“I’m Missin’ You Like Candy.” -Mandy Moore

Honestly, I never saw this coming. Yes, I’ve been infected by the Candy Crush.

This makes me want to cry.

This message makes me want to cry.

My first introduction to Candy Crush came a few months ago through my students. “You play Candy Crush, Mister?” a few of them asked. “No,” I said. “I think you’d like it,” they’d say. “It’s like Bejeweled, but better.” And perhaps this is where my disdain for Candy Crush began. Bejeweled Blitz is near and dear to my heart. I’ve played it so often for so long that one day one of my students looked at my rank and asked, “Is that for real?” I mean I guess it is.

I tried a few rounds on my students’ phones, but did not understand the game play. It did look very similar to Bejeweled Blitz, but it moved more slowly. I didn’t understand what the specials did. I didn’t understand the objectives. I am a simply guy, and that’s what’s always appealed to me about Bejeweled: you just blow up gems. That’s it. Candy Crush seemed to require a kind of thought that Bejeweled did not, which again, is the exact reason I fell in love with Bejewled Blitz in the first place.

But I had seen this kind of trendy app before. Temple Run. Fun Run. Something about sharks. These games are all the rage for a few weeks, then no one plays and it becomes a wasteland. But since the makers of Candy Crush figured out the best way to ensure continued play: make a bazillion levels.

This is actually worse than the "no lives" screen. At least that bad boy tells you when you'll be able to play again.

This is actually worse than the “no lives” screen. At least that bad boy tells you when you’ll be able to play again.

I had played it sporadically since then. It all came to a head the other night. Like so many misguided choices I’ve made throughout my life, I found Candy Crush in a moment of boredom.

I actually sat there, tried to figure out how to play, then passed a few of the easy levels in sequence without losing a life. I wasn’t hooked yet. I got to a point where a particular level stumped me and I ran out of lives. Now I was hooked. I had to wait for more lives, and I suppose it works on two levels. For a moderately competitive person like myself, no f*cking game is going to tell me I’m not good enough, no matter how many times I run out of moves. Secondly, there is a real elation when I complete a level that has been particularly challenging. I compare it to the rush I get from grading a stack of essays: It’s over. I did it.ย 

I have an addictive personality, a trait Lynnette discovered long ago and loves to point out whenever I go out of my mind obsessing about things like Candy Crush or the Mets or sushi or Coke or Chinese women. In the space below, I would like to relay a few highlights – lowlights, really – of my brief (so far) infatuation with Candy Crush.

Most humbling moment: Because I had spoken ill of Candy Crush for so long, I set myself up for a lot of shit talk once it got out that had started playing. Initially, I only loaded the app onto my phone so that Lynnette could send herself lives from my account. So, on Tuesday when some of the seniors stopped by my classroom after picking up their diplomas, I spoke to them tail in hand, hat between my legs. “Hey, um, look. I know what I said. I just need you guys to send me some tickets on Candy Crush so I can get to the next level.” There was a beat of silence, and then mockery. “Oh, wow. *imitates my voice: DON’T SEND ME CANDY CRUSH REQUESTS, THAT’S NOT ME, THAT’S MY WIFE. I WON’T ANSWER!” It’s true. I said all of those things. “Yeah, but still,” I said. “I never ask you guys for anything… non-class related. Just c’mon.” They told me they would do so shortly. I knew they were lying. It took like 20 minutes. If this sounds akin to the way drug addiction is portrayed in popular culture, I am not surprised. Believe me, there was real shame in my voice as I begged for those tickets.

Moment I realized Candy Crush was going to be a problem: Easily, it was the moment that I realized that my account was synced through Facebook and kept track of my progress, with the added bonus that each electronic devices provides its own set of lives. Now, am I the kind of man who plays Candy Crush on his phone, iPad, and computer(s) in a rotation? Yes. Yes, I am.

Worst things I’ve said which were caused by and/or related to Candy Crush (in no particular order):

1. (To students talking in the minutes before their final exam) Hey! Keep it down! You’re ruining my Candy Crushing.

2. Why does Candy Crush hate me?

3. (Immediately after failing to complete a mission) Don’t you show me that crying heart… (sees crying heart) C’mon, sack up, crying heart! Four minutes! That’s an eternity!

4. (After checking phone in bed) I love you, Lynnette. *kisses beautiful wife, who then asks “What was that for?”* You gave me the most wonderful thing a human can give another human being… *Lynnette shoots puzzled look* …the gift of life. *Lynnette squints, then realizes I’m talking about Candy Crush, then scoffs.*

Finally, thank you to everyone who answers my prayers by sending lives and tickets, especially my uncle Reyn and my aunties Joy, Deb, and Corinne. I promise I will always send stuff out when I get notices. Most of all, thanks to Lynnette who will have to live through another of my intense (though probably short-lived) obsessions without inquiring about the possibility of a divorce.

I’m proud of myself. I wrote this entire entry without checking if anyone has sent me the tickets I need to advance. I mean, hey, I can quit any time I want.

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