Zen and the art of Rice-mobile maintenance
I awoke with a start. It was the middle of the night. I could hear itâ€¦ calling for me. I turned on my computer. There it was - Need For Speed: Underground.
It all came back to me. I spent perhaps an hour tweaking the aesthetics of my vehicle of choice â€“ the Nissan 240SX. Finally, the choice was made. For the most part, she was the sweetest deep metallic blue. Her spoiler and rims were a fine, golden-orange colour. Her windows tinted the darkest of black. The vinyl? A roaring, flaming dragon covered her exterior. But all these were secondary to her greatest feature of all â€“ pulsing yellow neonâ€™s.
I had called her Theresa.
I had wasted the previous three days taming this beast. I out-drifted this, I out-ran that. An endless number of challengers left in my wake. There was no challenge.
I was death, destroyer of worlds.
But one fateful afternoon, all this changed. I had hit the wall â€“ challenge 72. I could not dodge the traffic, nor could I handle numerous corners. My competition would blow me away, leaving me a hollow, empty shell of a man.
I am no stranger to gaming stress. In earlier years, I had tackled numerous titles which slowly ate away my sanity. X-Wing, Monkey Island 2, Mechwarrior 2 and others. Eventually, I had bent them to my will.
With this in mind, I faced my demons.
Come , I was still facing them.
Now it was â€“ the demons were now laughing at me.
Oh my, 4am. Now they were baking cookies.
No more, I had decided. It was time to unleash the fucking fury.
I ignored my competitors, and took to learning the course in every way possible. What was the best speed and angle to take a corner? Where were all the shortcuts? At what point was it best to use NOS? Where was the best place to â€˜introduceâ€™ my opponents to the incoming traffic?
It was time to put all of my theories into practise.
Teresa had pulled up against her rivals. A Mitsubishi Lancer, a Honda S2000, and a Subaru Impreza. My hatred for EA Games was matched only by my disgust for their sickening paint jobs. The engines roared into life, the counter went down.
Within seconds I had taken the lead. Every corner taken perfectly, no shortcut was missed. I had weaved through the traffic with impunity.
After three laps I had left my opponents behind. All, that is, except for one.
That fucking Subaru.
Despite my immense efforts, I could not shake it. It matched me at every corner, every evasion. I could not rid of it any sooner I could my own shadow.
I needed something special.
I summoned all the concentration I possessed. I took everything the car had to give. I had to become the car. I acquired the calm serenity of its blue paintjob. The fire of its golden-orange spoiler. The deep pits of its tinted windows.
I had become the very dragon adorning the car.
This Zen-like state changed everything. I succeeded every corner because I desired it so. I no longer dodged traffic â€“ it dodged me. By the very last corner, I had acquired a marginal lead. This was it â€“ nirvana.
Then I hit a van that looked like it belonged to the A-Team - MR T HIMSELF HAD DENIED ME MY VICTORY!
I placed second by a mere half-second. As you can no doubt guess, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why, after all this time, and after achieving a feat that I will never pull off again, could I not win?
Why had God (MR T) taken this away from me?
I said farewell to my Teresa, purchased a Honda CRX, and won challenge 72 without breaking a sweat.
The moral of this story?
Do not underestimate a V-TEC engine.
I apologise if this is a rambling, inchoherent mess. It's 6am, and I'm still rather cranky about it.