I’m addicted, can’t quit, and can’t win a game.

Faye Crawford playing Free Cell in the dead of night. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
Faye Crawford playing Free Cell in the dead of night. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

I AM my own antagonist.

I indulged in a game that my friend played.

Let me tell you right away, she is a genius.

The temptation to match Linda’s cognition was a spontaneous challenge.

Similar to classic solitaire, the computer game contains empty cells and randomly scattered cards that simply need to be put in order. The object of this game is to arrange all fifty-two cards in accurate columns according to their suits.

Of course, I realized that it is common for everyone to lose the first game played. I am no exception. I lost the first game, the second game, the third game, and innumerable sequential games. Not one win did I have, but I came real close twice.

Did I quit?

You bet I didn’t.

The way I figured it, if I continued to play, I would eventually win. Three hours later, crossed eyes, throbbing shoulders, stiff neck, empty stomach, full bladder, right hand permanently attached to the mouse, my tenth mug of coffee in my left hand, I was still losing every game. I was feeling significantly ignorant, but I would not admit that this game (or my friend) was superior to me. It seemed to be saying to me, “Really?” “ You still think you can beat me?” I loathed being demoralized by a computer game.

I lost 175 consecutive games. I’m sure that score will go down in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I confess. I had a persistent compulsive aspiration to win.

Gerald, my husband, abruptly interrupted my concentration, ”Are you addicted to that game?”

“ You have a self-inflicted lack of productivity, and it is very harmful.”

I overheard him speaking to an addiction interventionist.

Realization hit me like a brick! “Wait a minute!”

“Are you preparing rehabilitation for ME?”

“I’m the reigning queen of time waste?”

“Leaving when?”

“Going where?”

“ For how long?”

“No visitors, you say?”

“ No computers allowed?”

“Oh, please hang up!”

“Give me a chance!”

“ I’ll be in control.”

I surrendered to his wishes.

I cleaned house, washed the clothes, and even cooked—for at least twenty-four hours.

I ascended to the pinnacle of withdrawal.

The time I waste is not wasted time.

Let’s play free cell!

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  • Linda Pirtle

    Yep. The best time to play is in the middle of the night. . . no interruptions from someone at the other end of the office asking, “What’s for dinner?”

    • Caleb Pirtle

      And no one to look over your shoulder to see if you’re winning or losing.

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