You Can Hardly Stand It Though By Now You Know

I am a reasonably accomplished young man. At 22 I have a good degree and am on track to coast into a good Masters without too much sweat. I have all the Ben Folds albums. I can put on my clothes in the morning and take them off in the evening. I can now shower on my own without incident. In theory I could cook for myself and do my laundry and I know how to wire up TVs and that sort of a thing. I have it as much together as one could hope at my young age.

But one problem I can’t quite get over is my total lack of ability to finish things. I can start well in something, gaining an advantage over my peers or competitors and soon reach a passable level of aptitude but then it will all go into decline until I can’t even be bothered to turn up to whatever it is I am meant to be doing. Even if that thing is sleeping. I inevitably quit.

So I am going to list some of the things that I constantly fall down on. Perhaps you already do the same things but I think it might be of benefit for you all to read these cautionary tales so you can overcome whatever genetic curse (or previous life sins) that lead you into being a well hidden moron who doesn’t tie your shoe laces because 90% dressed is dressed enough for you.

If anything you will learn that it isn’t a good idea to turn up to your driving test having learnt the road rules, understood the functioning of the engine, were expert with your transmission and diligent in every area of motor navigation except for the brakes which you thought you would get around to sometime in the summer.

The majority of the adult population and the vast majority of the adult population that matters, women, recognise that computer games are things that we grow out of. They are like wearing blue tracksuit bottoms, a white polo shirt and a yellow polyester tie. Only kids think that is cool. It’s the kind of mildly embarrassing phenomenon that is classified with trying to base your life on the A-Team character Templeton “Face” Peck.

Those sensible people rightly deduce that of all the hobbies, computer gaming is perhaps the most pointless. There is very little real skill involved, no face to face interaction with people and very little chance of every impressing a girl with it. I know a guy who used to play Quake for Ireland (I am not messing) and he wasn’t beating them back with a stick. Also, that guy looks like a model in a Versace magazine ad and he is the most one-linerist person I have ever met. Only Quake could convince a girl not to bed him immediately.

Anyway, I was not wise enough to recognise that Quake doesn’t transfer easily into the real world and I would be much better off spending my recreational time playing soccer or learning chess or hanging around with con artists. But I didn’t heed that voice.

Instead I launched myself into games with abandon. I spent hours, whole nights, hunched over my PC in the dark room trying to conquer whatever imaginary world was distracting my attention from finding a cure for cancer in the time. However, the whole never-following-through thing hit me again. I didn’t pay enough attention to the Masters Of Gaming when they were instructing me in their arcane ‘g80s art. Instead I learnt about the keyboard and the mouse and the monitor and the modem doohickey and then thought I knew everything.

Tragedy followed. I didn’t know everything and I ended up playing the kind of game that Quake nerds look down on: Championship Manager. This is a game whereby you pretend to be employed as the manager of a soccer team. You buy and sell and train your players and develop tactics for your team. Then you send the virtual eleven out onto a pitch and hope that your combination of statistics and strategies would defeat the computer’s attempt.

The “game” is represented not by players running around a pitch but by flashing text alerts like “Ronaldo passes it to Zidane”. Playing a full season probably involves twenty hours of effort- or enough lecture time to do a college module. The players are generated with a probability factor that means that if you develop a successful team once then you can repeat it infinitely in all game scenarios. I recognise all these flaws but do I still yearn for the delicious statistics? Yes. Do I still get a kick out of buying a 16 year old for 45k and then selling him ten years and 400 goals later (or about 200 hours in real time) for 45 million? Sure I do. Pathetic.

I should have paid more attention and done things properly but I skipped ahead and stopped paying attention and when I next looked up I had wasted three years of my life and had put on seven stone in weight.

So learn from this fatal failing of mine. When you start to do something, whether it is seducing a lady or planning a coup, remember to stick around until the end because inevitably, that is the place where the good stuff is. There is no point in missing out on the jackpot because you forget to fill out the eight necessary lottery numbers. Or worse, like me, choose the jackpot numbers exactly right for the last three weeks running but somehow never get around to submitting the card to a lottery agent.

So buck up. Tie your laces. Follow through on the girl who is now rubbing your arm and throwing her head back every time she laughs. Don’t play computer games and always remember to end your writing with a concl--

Your Correspondent, Who Is Not Going To Stop Until You Wise Up.

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