The Guy On My Couch gleefully cackled as he boasted, “MY daughter got dysentery!” I glared over at him, jealously, and said under my breath, “ass,” which I soon followed up with, “Are you going to leave her behind or sell a wagon wheel?”

“It’s my DAUGHTER,” he replied, “Of COURSE I’m going to leave her behind.”

I glowered into my Tiny Tower, angrily naming my spa, “Facial Cum Shots,” which normally would’ve netted me at least five seconds worth of giggles, but I was too bitter to even enjoy that particular gem.

I remember the day that our class was introduced to a dull row of depressingly beige computers, their monitors a blank black, the words on the screen a delicate green flower. “This,” our librarian announced proudly, “this is what we’ll be working on next.”

We’d been doing a unit on the California Gold Rush – I’d even gone as far as to make a terrarium scene with rocks -n- shit that I’d carefully painted gold with one of those markers you can snort and get high – and we’d taken a trip to the Old West-Themed Portillo’s* in Naperhell. What, I wondered, glowering a bit at being taken away from the books I’d so treasured, was so awesome on a computer?

My classmates may have been thrilled by the usage of the row of dingy beige machines, but I’d practically teethed on computers. My father, a certified geek-a-holic had been certain to own some of the first home computers – to this day, my brother and I have an unspoken agreement that whenever either of us gets a new gadget or computer, we’re sure to show it off to my father. He, in turn, immediately goes out and one-ups us – if I have the newest, pimpest, 17-inch MacBook pro, he’ll get a video card worth 2K to put into one of his 37 home PC’s. After all, who wants to be outdone by his children?

(answer: not my father)

Anyway, I teethed on the keyboard of the computer’s we owned. My dad lovingly taught me to tell time and use a clock using various combinations of bendable floppy discs that he’d have to insert quickly, then remove, while the screen hummed a nice green color.

Computers, well, they were not exciting to me. They performed a perfectly functional task; I used them when I needed them, and I was just as happy to write it out by hand, although, I must admit that half of that has to do with my father, who insisted that we go through haz-mat decontamination procedures before we grubbed up his precious computers.

So when the librarian sat us down and had us turn on our computers, I was nonplussed. I’d just spent an hour in the book stacks working out how my 5 BFF and I were going to be JUST! LIKE! THE! BABYSITTERS! CLUB! books. I called dibs on Claudia but I’d been summarily outvoted.

While our computers took the normal fifteen minutes to boot up, I sat there, giggling with Ryan, the guy who sat next to me alphabetically, about making our calculators say “SHIT” if we turned them upside down. He was in the middle of demonstrating how he could make his calculator say “FUCK YOU” when the computer finally popped on.

There it was.

Oregon Trail.

Each week, we’d get to play our game, learning that those who rode the Oregon Trail were really fucking pixelated. I was thrilled to learn that my characters could both get sick and die. I began naming my characters after particularly hated teachers and hall monitors, and being all, “Ford the river with my wagon – missing a wheel – and weighing 837229 pounds? WHY NOT?” Then they’d die, and I’d end up back at square motherfucking one.

Oregon Trail became the benchmark all other video games were measured against. It’s why I never got into games like The Sims, even though, I’ve been informed by my girl Crys, one can similarly name people after loathed enemies and make them depressed, so all that they do is wander around looking for cats to pet.

When I saw that I could download a version of Oregon Trail for my iPhone, I was nearly ecstatic. While the number of people that I’d avidly disliked had decreased since age eight, I could imagine a few people I wouldn’t mind leaving behind after a particularly vicious snake bite. Fuck selling a wagon wheel – let ‘em rot in the sun!

What I found disappointed me. While I could “fish” or “pick berries,” not a soul died on my expedition to Oregon, a place I’d actually visited (and found to be sorely lacking in bathrooms)(fucking hippies).

So when The Guy On My Couch found and downloaded the same game for Android, I was smugly superior – “You won’t like it,” I nearly sang. “No one dies.”

Except his daughter. And his wife. And several of his ox.

Apparently, the Android version of Oregon Trail was more gruesome, as he happily pointed out.

I went back to my Tiny Tower and sulked because I couldn’t change all of my pixelated people to be named “Dirk Diggler.”

By Saturday, I realized I was getting sick. No worries, I told myself, like I always do – it’s probably allergies or rheumatic fever or something similarly unglamorous. I made myself a Green Death Flavored NyQuil cocktail and passed the fuck out, certain I’d wake the following morning full of piss and vinegar.

Over night, I’d gotten up a few times and noted that there appeared to be water running. I, in my NyQuil stupor, assumed that it was someone taking a bath or doing laundry, because that’s what normal people do at 2AM, right? They bathe and/or run the sprinkler?

The following morning, I groggily dragged my ass out of bed, cursing my NyQuil hangover, and schlepped off to the couch, joining both The Guy on my Couch and The Daver who were in an avid discussion about something that did not involve coffee or donuts – the two things I was most interested in.

The sounds of running water filled the living room, and eventually, I stopped their discussion about the merits of deep fried food to ask the question: “What the fuck is that sound?”

Daver and Ben both sighed – “The water heater went out,” they replied, in the sort of creepy unison that happens when two grown men live together in an intimate environment.

“Oh,” I replied, nodding, as though I had any fucking idea what that meant.

“Already called the plumbers, they’ll be out tomorrow,” Dave replied.

“So wait – can I flush the toilet? Take a shower? Water my plants?” I asked.

“Nope,” again in unison, the replied.

“It’s like Oregon fucking Trail,” I replied, still in my NyQuil stupid stupor. “We should trade in a wagon wheel or something.”

They just stared at me.

The following morning, I woke up and wandered downstairs, grumbling about wearing pants and coughing up what appeared to be a rainbow in phlegm form. Daver, head in the computer, looked up as I walked into the room.

“Jesus,” he said. “You sound like a whale just sat on a baby seal.”

I just nodded my head, which made my ears pop unhappily, bracing myself against the dining room wall.

“Go to the doctor,” he commanded. “We’ll have running water soon.”

Too sick to protest, I made my way to the doctor where I was diagnosed with the dazzling trio: bronchitis, sinus infection and double ear infection. One more illness (I was hoping for Pink-Eye) and I could’ve been entered into a lottery for a chance to win a bubble to live in.

I returned home to find that Dave had paid the plumber with a wagon wheel and some rattlesnake meat, and I curled up onto the couch, wheezing softly.

“Three days,” I said to no one in particular. “I’m setting us behind schedule three days.” I fell asleep, visions of fording a river dancing in my head.

*a Chicago-style hot-dog joint

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

15 Responses to Dysentery. It’s Always Fucking Dysentery.

  • Mae says:

    DUDE. I don’t know what shit version you got but I had Oregon Trail for iphone and my people died all the fucking time! My daughters were ROUTINELY taken by eagles. I was given the option of stopping to look for them or not. I usually chose not because it made the food last longer.

    But I never got to trade a wagon wheel for jack shit.

  • Chooplah says:

    This post drummed up way too many repressed memories. Love it. Also, I loved the Babysitters’ Club, too, except for that diabetic chick always bitching about how she couldn’t have birthday cake.

  • Coleen says:

    Bought this shirt for my husband for his birthday. It works on several levels: he loves video games AND he’s from Oregon. We’ve avoided explaining what it says to my 4 year old, since she would get all melodramatic about someone dying…

  • Kat says:

    Hey now, I can’t help it if you were too stupid to find the bathrooms! Sheesh!

    And we didn’t get to play the computer….we played an RPG version complete with dice and a big table. All we needed was costumes to turn into these guys

  • Cindy
    Twitter: WalkerCynthia
    says:

    I still haven’t played angry birds. I’m such a loser.

  • No Good says:

    You’re so good you can turn an ear infection into a hilarious blog post.

  • Carol Anne
    Twitter: NJdreaming
    says:

    I have dysentery? Damn!

    See I just knew those wine glasses at the Olive Garden were dirty.

    LOL

  • Jolie says:

    When you get sick, you go all out girl! :( Been to Portillo’s – kids loved some chocolate cake shake thing they had. By kids I mean my kids and of course, moi! Good stuff all around their menu. Hope you got good meds and get to feeling better soon!!! ?

  • Scroogy says:

    Holy balls, I hated Oregon Trail days. I always died right away. It was hell.

  • chrisinphx says:

    Suddenly Im back in the Computer Learning Center at Mark Twain Elementary School in Wheeling IL learning how to do a cold and warm boot on that dinosaur Apple II E.
    I havent thought about that in a loooooooooong time! Good Memories today AB, thanks…Hope you feel better soon snot face

  • Marta
    Twitter: marta28
    says:

    I couldn’t even finish the post before I got my iphone out and started downloading an Oregon trail app. Here’s to hoping someone gets dysentery!

  • Kate says:

    Good God, how old are you really? Did you have Ben when you were fourteen, cuz I share ALL of your pop culture memories. It’s weird. Also awesome. I loved Oregon trail. I’m too cheap to get any phone requiring data, though, so that’s bullshit.

  • Grace says:

    I was about to share the awesomeness that was The Guy On Your Couch leaving his DAUGHTER behind when I discovered that my husband HAD NEVER PLAYED OREGON TRAIL IN SCHOOL! Damn I hate being the older spouse. He’s only 4 years younger but he grew up in California where they were more high tech and shit than Podunk, Montana. Oh well. I always died in the first couple minutes with that game.

  • Vesta says:

    I don’t think the current or future generations will be able to appreciate how fast things go with technology, especially boot-up speeds. I remember the first times I used a computer, it was slow as anything but I did not notice or care. That and one of the first games I remember playing was on a floppy disk and was obviously in 2D but I didn’t give a crap because it was kind of awesome to be on computers.

    Have to say, I also downloaded the iPhone version of Oregon Trail and was sadly disappointed at the lack of 2D graphics, death, etc etc. It is not the Oregon Trail of my childhood where I played it on a Mac that was really old but reliable and still at the school for funding hah.

  • Britt says:

    I know you don’t live in Oregon but I figured you’d love this Becky!
    http://www.oregontraillive.com/

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