Monday, January 2, 2012

If You Buy A Kid an Xbox

(A children's story in the tradition of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.)
If you buy a kid an Xbox (360), the guy at the store will tell you that the old XBox games will work on it.

If you bring the Xbox (360) home, you will find the old games only work if you buy a one-hundred and thirty dollar external hard drive.

If you are a high school teacher who doesn't want to spend one-hundred-thirty more dollars (after the $375 you already spent on the game system), you will decide to hook up the old Xbox along with the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. (This will require a degree in engineering or a lifetime of experience with cords and plugs, the latter of which you fortunately have.)

After you do this, you will find out that your TV room is too small for the "Kinect" that allows game play without remote controls. For a moment you will consider whether you really need the garage that lies beyond the confining wall. You will also wonder whether you could make a small doorway into the garage, so the kids will be able to back up far enough. Your kids will suggest standing on the couch to play. You'll consider this, as well, and then get a hold of yourself.

You will then consider moving the TV into the bigger living room, which is currently book-filled and electronics-free, by careful design. But you will consider this because you love your kids very much.

Still, you will try an Xbox 360 game that your wife bought you for Christmas -- one that does not require the Kinect, but only the slaying of dragons with button-presses.

Sometimes, you feel like the old man.
When you try that game, you will see that it was made with high-definition TVs in mind -- you will see that the text is unreadable and, so, the game is unplayable.

When you see that the game is unplayable, you will realize that the period of being being the last person in the United States without a high definition TV -- something of which you were secretly proud -- is at an end.

You will then, after already having exceeded your Christmas expense limit, order an HD TV.

On New Year's day, you will spend the hours between eleven in the morning and eight in the evening moving your stereo and game systems and TV cabinet (which is exceedingly big and heavy, but you will refuse to call your brother-in-law, who lives only a few houses away, for help because . . . that's just what guys do) into the living room. You will sweat. You will crawl under the house looking for cable connections when you find the new TV doesn't seem to be getting a signal. (After which, you will discover, only after an embarrassing call to the cable provider, that your addled brain forgot to put the TV on "channel 4.")

And, at six in the evening, you will drive to the store to buy two HDMI cables ($60). You will bring the cables home and (in a completely uncharacteristic blunder for you) you will cut clean through one of the cables with scissors while attempting to open the package. You will drive back to the store and drop another $25 on a cable. While in the check-out line, your son will ask for a bottle of water. You will ask him if he is crazy -- if he thinks money grows on trees.

Finally, you will go home and hook up the last of the components. When the high-def glory is exposed to the children, the pyjamad cherubs will say: "I liked it better in the other room."

You will then consider suicide, but then realize that "the Everlasting hath . . . fixed his cannon 'gainst self slaughter."

If you buy a kid an Xbox, it will ultimately cost you approximately one-thousand four-hundred and thirty-six dollars and twenty-seven cents and about two-thirds of your sanity.

(I do think this story would go over great with the kiddies. If anyone is interested in illustrating it for free, let me know.)


  1. This sounds remarkably like my experience with buying an Xbox, only ours predates Kinect by about a year and I think we're both still scarred by the "replacing the TV part." In our case, our less-than-10-years-old TV was actually incompatible with the box -- the two items simply wouldn't work together.

    I shudder to think about what upgrading to the Kinect will involve.

  2. I would gladly illustrate this book for free.

    (However, I imagine that to compete in today's market it would need to be Hi def 3D images with a sleek robot main character with a movie soon to follow).


  3. Wonderful, horrible post - it's the time that's been sucked out of my life, more than the money, that I regret in similar situations.

  4. 'nora -- I hope you upgrade goes more smoothly. In order to prepare, you might consider knocking out a few walls . . .

    Squidward -- There must be a way to further digitize my story. And I could easily pass for a robot, so that part is done. (Some free clariniet strains would be nice as well.)

    Z -- It is a crushing blow when technological things eat up one's time instaed of freeing it up like it should. You're right: it is, in fact, the time that is the biggest problem. The problem is, for me, at least, that I'll start throwing money at just about any problem to save that time . . .