People to See, Places to Go, Butterflies to Save


I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and like most people, the more I have to do the less willing I am to actually do even a tiny bit of it. If I have 30 things on my list to do in a day, I can do 27 of them. But if I have 3 things to do, I can barely make it from the bed to the kitchen. And forget about washing out my coffee cup.

So at this point, when I’m dealing with just having moved into a four-story house where nothing is on the proper level, learning the San Francisco transit system, publishing a book, learning Marketing 101, mastering new TV remotes, and trying to figure out what those big bulbous green vegetables are that are selling all over Chinatown, I’ve made it my Number 1 priority to save butterflies.

Not real ones. That would actually be worthwhile. I’m saving colorful, sparkly pretend butterflies on Bejeweled on my iPad.

When I got my iPad, I hesitated to put games on it, because I have a history of video game abuse. I almost lost my middle class lifestyle and a couple of toddlers over Tetris back in the ‘90s. But enough time had passed, I thought I had outgrown some of my obsessive behaviors. I was an idiot. I haven’t changed a whit since I was 10.

I started out playing regular Bejeweled. Zapping colored gemstones was satisfying enough, but then when I was working out a hand cramp, I stumbled across the other modes. 

You would think that Zen Mode would be soothing and mentally nourishing. Wrong.  The sounds are waterfalls, trickling stream and other stuff that made me want to go to the bathroom behind a big tree in the woods. At the bottom of your screen flash encouraging spiritual reminders.

I will meet my healthy weight.

I like long walks.

I let fear pass me by.

I am up to any situation.

I love courageously.

I deserve abundance.

The Universe is safe and friendly.

Being a former fan of TM, I have my own mantra. I can’t tell you because it’s a secret and if I told you, I’d have to kill you in the most peaceful Zen Buddhist way possible. Like slowly strangling you with a 100% silk pastel scarf.  But I relied on the soothing reminders of my self worth, since it’s kind of hard to repeat your mantra when you’re zapping colorful jewels. Things catch fire and explode and stuff. 

Zen Mode also has a heavy breathing option. I get to choose the speed from the slowest - Darth Vadar breathing that sounds like someone on oxygen who may not make it – to the fastest - my dog mouth-snoring when she’s dreaming of chasing a raccoon.

But enough about Zen. Let’s talk about Butterfly mode, which makes me a super hero.

There’s a big black spider at the top of the screen. If a butterfly gets to the top before you can save her, she is eaten by the spider and the game is over. There are strategies and points and levels and badges, blah, blah, blah. I care about one thing and one thing only when I’m playing Butterfly mode: How many butterflies I can save.

I’ve made up more incentives for me to do a better job saving the butterflies by creating a story in which the Spider cabal is holding millions of these colorful butterflies prisoner in their lair. Every time I play a game, I get a number of them released onto the game board and I have a chance to save a bunch. If a game ends with fewer than 100 butterflies saved, the spiders’ power increases. But if I can save more than 100 butterflies in a game, I start to shore up power and the evil spiders start to weaken. If I save 200 butterflies the spiders’ ability to catch more butterflies starts to wane. Once I topped 300 butterflies saved in one game and I was so excited I almost got myself a tattoo and a tiara. In real life.

I love to torment that rotten spider. As the butterflies get closer to the top, they start to shake. The spider, that asshole, hovers nearest the one that is closest and it fidgets around. You would see its mouth water if it was a real spider. (Although if it was a real spider I would smash it with a big shoe and that would be the end of it and all the peril with these beautiful butterflies.) I love to play my jewels so that a butterfly gets almost within reach and then I make a big play and save it and seven of his friends. 

“That’s right! Suffer you stupid vulture!” I mutter in the dentist’s waiting room. The fact that everyone else is on their iPads reading Maya Angelou and The Iliad is beside the point. I’m saving freakin’ butterflies here!

When my movers were moving things into my house, I sat by the doorway and checked numbers off a Bingo sheet. In between, I played Butterfly mode Bejeweled. 

The mover I had nicknamed The Professor saw my iPad and said, “Bejeweled?”

“Yep,” I answered.

“My wife is addicted to that game,” he said. 

“Well, she sounds like an amazing woman,” I said, matching up a glowing fiery yellow stone and saving five butterflies.

“Yeah, she sits on her iPad all day playing that game. I swear she’d play it in her sleep if she could.”

“Perhaps your wife would like to join forces with me and together we can shut down these nasty ass spiders once and for all,” I said, my voice rising. There was a pause. Then a more awkward pause. And then another mover walked in with a box strapped to his back and said “Yellow 228!” I put down my iPad and picked up my Bingo sheet and colored in the box. 

The Professor was suspiciously absent the next day when the crew came back to unpack. 

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