Don't leave me at the controls

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By Tommie Kendall

While there are some things I can manage to control — organizing a basketball game, planning a party, finishing off the leftovers at the dinner table — there are some things I should obviously never, ever be in charge of. Just ask my wife Sandra.

Here’s what happens, in order, when you leave me in charge for just a few minutes: I do flips on the couch; the baby plays in the toilet; the bathroom floods; the house catches on fire; I try to put out the fire; the fire gets bigger; the neighbor catches on fire; another neighbor steals my baby; I try to put out the fire again; the fire gets even bigger; the wife comes to the rescue; and I’m left dazed and confused. Now, let me explain.

For the second year in a row I bought Sandra a Sims computer game for Christmas, and for the second year in a row I accidently purchased the expansion pack so my present was useless without an original Sims game— two strikes for me. This time around, though, we decided to buy the Sims game after Christmas to fix what I’ve been messing up the last couple of years. As it turns out — though it was more popular a few years back — Sims is one of the greatest games ever invented.

Really, it’s genius. You can create your own family, move into a town, buy everything you need, get a dream job, make new friends and go out partying without ever leaving your “real” house. And the best part is, if you mess up, you can just start back over or not save the game. It’s what I’ve always wanted in life — a reset button.

I just didn’t know I would need it so soon.

I’ll admit, it was supposed to be Sandra’s present. But I wanted to create the family — me, Sandra and our baby girl Emma. I wanted to pick the house. I wanted to buy the furniture. I wanted to meet the neighbors. And I wanted to choose what we did. It’s all fun and games until someone burns down the house.

The first mistake I made was making my look-alike have his No. 1 objective as partying, while Sandra made her No. 1 objective the family. As it turns out, when you do this all the person wants to do is go out and meet more people, plan parties and do flips on the couch for hours at a time. I will say that my look-alike is similar to me — especially the flipping on the couch — but I usually know when enough is enough.

With myself in front of the screen, I ignored (the computer-animated) Emma’s request to go potty so she ended up flooding the bathroom after splashing in the toilet. And I ignored my wife’s request to get cooking lessons, which results in a small fire when I ordered her to go fix some lunch while I was talking to a neighbor.

Within minutes, the fire had spread throughout most of the kitchen, I couldn’t put it out when I finally figured out where the extinguisher was, I caught my neighbor’s butt on fire and another neighbor came in the animated house and took Emma away — I’m still not sure what that was all about.

Just when the house was about to go up in one big, full flame, when my neighbor was about to stop, drop and roll and when I was about to give up on trying to put out the blazing fire, the “real” Sandra came to the rescue.

Of course by then the fire was too big and we were hopeless. I was in charge for just a few minutes of actual game time and I had already managed to mess up everything we had worked so hard for. Sandra decided to turn off the power without saving the game, restart the computer and get a fresh start — with her in control this time.

It was fun while it lasted but I’ve decided to ban myself from Sims. It’s just not worth the confusion and craziness that comes with me being in control. Who knows what my look-alike will be doing now that Sandra is in charge?

While she was playing the game a few nights after my debacle, I had the urge to take the controls once more but fought it off. I did hear my look-alike jumping and yelling on the computer screen — he sounded like he was having a good time. At least she still lets me jump on the couch.

Tommie can be reached at sports@hclocal.com.