Happy Valentine's Dave

Dave was practically born and raised on the Streets of Sim City.  He
had a lot of things going for him in a lot of ways, and he usually
fucked everything up anyway.  His dad said to him sometimes, Dave, if
you put half as much energy into just about anything besides fucking
everything up, imagine where you could be.

Dave disagreed, but didn't tell his dad so.  Dave was kind of a quiet,
incommunicative guy.  His dad more or less was too, aside from giving
him shit.  Dave's only escape was the Streets of Sim City.  He would
spend hours making a map then import it into the game and fuck
everything up.  He loved how free-form it was.  He got it down to a
science, practically.  The game wasn't even that good to be quite
honest.  It had basically flopped, it was an awesome idea that fell
far short of delivering.  Dave made up for the shortcomings of the
product in his own mind.  That little pixellated bullshit could be a
hooker, for example.  He just figured that would spice things up
enough to hold his interest.  It didn't really, but he enjoyed fucking
up the map anyway.

Dave took to that game like a duck likes water.  He played the shit
out of it.  His dad was pretty upset with him for doing not a damn
thing else most of the time than play this game.  He could spend a
whole day making a map in Sim City, then half a year on its virtual
streets, not even really adhering to what the game offered, just doing
whatever he wanted.

Dave fucked a lot of things up, it really had to be acknowledged.  His
dad was getting pretty frustrated with him, sitting there fucking
everything up.  He spent a lot of time on AOL looking for people to
play the game with, but he almost never found anyone interested in it.
Occasionally he would find someone, but they were always such
incredibly weird people.  Dave didn't really think about himself that
much, but these weird fuckers who would play this game, it was so
weird.  Dave spent probably...  Well how many hours are in a
teenagehood?  Dave spent his life on this game.

He had probably one friend.  He would look at his buddy, the guy must
be his best friend.  Dave didn't think too much about himself.  He was
usually thinking about this game.  He would skip class to play the
game, he would fuck up social engagements to play the game, and his
buddy would try to bring him along, like, Dave, let's go to the mall,
we can check out some other games, like, Dave, you know there's more
in the world than this game right?  Dave always thought his friend was
a super weird guy.


The years passed.  Dave had a really hot girlfriend.  Actually more
than one, at different times.  Dave wasn't a player.  He really loved
those women.  He would really draw them in somehow.  It didn't make
sense when Dave got older, he thought back on it, like...  how had he
managed that?

His friend went off to a different college, far away.  They sort of
kept in touch, but Dave wasn't very communicative still.  He wasn't a
player, but he probably hooked up with these beautiful women just by
lying to them and a little bit of luck.  Dave probably missed his
friend in downright latent homosexual ways.  Dude was a bit of a
fruitcake, deep down inside.  He wouldn't have ever thought about
something like that.  Dave was always focused outward, not inward.  He
didn't think a lot about himself at all.

He gradually forgot about that game.  Somehow he played it less and
less.  He flunked out of college.  Everyone around him was flunking
out on drugs or popular games.  By then he had learned not to ask
anyone if they wanted to play Streets of Sim City with him.  He kinda
kept to himself mostly, but it stopped being so fun to just play the
game all day.  He felt he had to hide the game, really.  His
girlfriends never knew about his obsession with that game.  Gradually
it faded on its own.  The girlfriends left him, one by one.  They
eventually noticed the same thing his dad always said.  He was a
fuck-up.  So Dave flunked out without even playing a cool game, he
lost interest in the only, rather stupid thing that mattered to him,
and he moved back in with his dad.


His dad was like, "ok, Dave.  You're my son, I accept you, you just
gotta help around the house.  I can tell you're starting to get it
together.  It's a huge step that you're not playing that game anymore.
College really helped you even though you flunked out." He said that
kind of thing.  His dad had clearly grown a lot also.  Something just
didn't add up, though.

Dave was pretty sure his dad was fucking one of his ex girlfriends.
He didn't even care that much.  Dave just kind of lost interest in
anything.  He slept a lot, he didn't help around the house like his
dad said he had to, and things gradually went to shit.  Dave stopped
showering, brushing his teeth.  He used to be such a neat freak.  One
day he caught his ex girlfriend right there in their home.  So that
proved it to him.  He didn't even flip out, she did.  She was like,
"Dave..." She figured it was her fault.  She was completely shocked at
what a mess he had become.  She broke down in tears to him in apology,
saying she never meant to hurt him, his dad was just sexy as fuck, all
kinds of stuff, sobbing.  Dave just stared at her kinda, it didn't
occur to him to say much, he was just his typical self, as far as he
was concerned.  He knew it wasn't her fault.  He probably should have
pointed that out, but he just kinda stood there completely silent,
smelling and looking like a homeless person.  His dad threw him out.


Dave somehow ended up in a group home instead of just homeless.  He
didn't think about it that much.  In the group home there was this
really weird guy.  He had to be the weirdest person Dave had ever met.
Dave wanted to just poke the guy, like, is this guy real?  Turned out
the guy was on all kinds of drugs.  Dave couldn't even remember his
own history with drugs, it hadn't really been a thing for him, but it
was always kinda there.  He had tried all kinds of drugs, he would try
some drug and just be like, whatever.  Like, people enjoy that?  He
got thrown out of a gathering once, where everyone was on some
stimulant.  Dave had done it along with everyone else, and gotten
completely pushy about the Streets of Sim City.  It had not gone over
well, and he had left under quite a threat.  Drugs just never were his

The thing about this dude in the group home is he listened to Dave
about that game.  Dave didn't even have a computer in there, he didn't
have a way to show the game to the guy, but he would listen for hours.
Dave spent almost as much time talking to this guy about that game as
he had ever spent playing it.  He couldn't even remember that guy's
name now.  The guy would talk to him for hours too, about something or
other.  Dave never listened back.  Dave thought about that.  Later
when he would remember, with a glimmer of introspection, it eventually
occurred to him that maybe neither of them had been listening to the
other at all.  Was that guy even real?

In the group home they had Braveheart on two old VHS tapes.  How many
times did they watch that?  Dave couldn't remember a single thing
about the movie.  They pretty much just had that for a movie
collection, and watched it over and over, and for some reason Dave
couldn't remember a single thing about it.

Social workers would come to the group home occasionally, and ask Dave
weird questions.  They would try to get Dave to go see some kind of
head doctor, and Dave would kinda play along, usually not showing up
for any appointment.  He would get out of it one way or another.  He
would get on the bus to go, he would tell everyone he had gone, and
they never really checked.  Where did Dave even go when he wasn't at
the appointments?  He couldn't remember.  Maybe he did go to the
appointments after all and just didn't remember.  For some reason that
didn't make any sense to him.

Seems like Dave would often end up at a park, maybe.  He would take
the bus to the appointments, without much intention, and he would
always end up at this one park.  The park was in the middle of a road,
kinda.  It was like one long park in the middle of the road.  The
weird guy from the group home would meet him there.  There were a lot
of bums and addicts in this park.  Always some kind of shenanigen or

There was a small pond at one end of the park, with some ducks in it.
Dave took to feeding the ducks like he took to playing that game.  Now
the weird guy and him had something in common.  They would talk about
the ducks to each other.  Like, Dave was on the same page with someone
else about fucking anything for once.

One day in that park, Dave bumped into that same ex girlfriend.  She
mistakenly assumed he was doing a lot better.  The truth was, in the
group home, they just told them when to shower, brush their teeth...
Dave played it off really well.  He explained to her he was, yep,
things were going really well.  He had moved out of his dad's place.
Neither of them really got into that awkward subject much further.  At
the end of the conversation, the girl seemed to want to continue it.
Dave didn't really want to or not want to.  The girl pointedly said to
him she hoped to see him again sometime.  Dave agreed, and said it was
great to see her.  For some reason, Dave never went back to that park.
He avoided it like the plague.


After that day in the park, Dave started to just go to the
appointments.  He figured it was kind of gay of him later, but he
thought of that male doctor along the same lines as those girlfriends.
The dude really dug for him to say stuff though, it was hard to keep
lying.  Dave took to spending time at the group home writing stuff
down.  He would write notes about what to say to the doctor, prepare
himself.  He got kind of creative at it.  He would go to a session and
judge the doctor's reactions, and make minute adjustments for the next
visit.  He wasn't sure what he was even going for.  It was aimless,
but fun.  He built quite a story for the man.

Sometimes he could tell it was all starting to crumble, and Dave would
start crying.  He would just start bawling there right in the doctor's
office.  It really was sad to Dave.  The thought of his psychiatrist
seeing all the way to the bottom of his soul, the thought of the story
collapsing in on itself, how angry and upset the doctor would be...
Dave would just start crying like a baby.

At the bottom, of course, was that game.  Dave didn't want to have to
explain that to anyone.  The game, sure.  He knew enough not to ever
mention the game to the doctor.


Dave knew a little bit about programming.  It had never really
occurred to him in a more general sense than making that game do some
weird thing or another.  He wasn't really what you would call tech
saavy, even.  He was so fixated on this game, it never occurred to him
any application beyond the confines of some little universe of a Sim
City map.  He was actually good at it too.  The company that made that
game would have hired him, they would have paid him for what he ended
up with.  He really improved that game tremendously from the market
flop it had always been.  It didn't even occur to Dave it was like, a
skill.  He didn't think of himself as a programmer at all.  He never
looked much further than that game.

He had a rough understanding of what various types of software were.
There were like, the various parts of the game.  He understood the
main program somehow, probably better than its designers.  He didn't
think of it in any terms like any programmer would.  He wasn't a
programmer, he was a Streets of Sim City-er.  He was really good at
it, too.

That doctor never knew about any of that.  Dave told him some complete
parallel story.  The doctor said Dave had never gotten something he
needed from his parents.  One day Dave went in to the doctor and it
all fell apart for him, in the best way imaginable.  At the doctor's
office was Dave's dad.  Dave's dad had been clearing some things up
with the doctor.  The doctor expressed surprise with Dave, like, how
come you didn't mention you were so gifted, Dave?

For a moment Dave felt caught, like he had been caught doing something
quite bad.  His dad and the doctor laughed it off, or something.  Dave
wasn't really following all of the nuances now.  Dave felt bitter
inside.  He felt resentful.  He tried pitifully to keep the story for
the doctor going, but it was all over.  He was outed, and it wasn't
even an issue.  It went better than Dave had ever expected it could
have.  After the doctor's appointment, Dave's dad drove him back to
the group home.  He said to him he had his computer for him, with the
game on it.


The weird guy in the group home was impressed.  Dave finally poked
him, like this was the moment of truth.  The guy didn't even mind, he
understood that.  He poked Dave right back.  So they each knew the
other was real, and things were coming back around for Dave.  Things
were looking up.

That weird guy had still been going to that park.  Maybe that's how
Dave ended up there the first time.  Well.  The guy had brought home
one of those ducks, back to the group home.  The staff were pretty
cool there, they were like listen you guys can keep this duck if you
take it for walks and stuff and don't let it shit everywhere.

Dave figured the weird guy was fucking his ex girlfriend.  He didn't
even care.


Dave got into the game in ernest.  He played like he had never played
it as a teenager.  He lived and breathed the game again.  The doctor
and his father were both impressed.  The weird guy in the group home
was actually listening to him about stuff.  He quit drugs even.  The
weird guy sometimes played the game with him.  Dave's programming got
better.  He still didn't agree with the doctor, who tried to play it
off like he had always known.  Dave knew deep down inside he had won.

They would walk the duck and Dave's work with the doctor had led to
better and better communication.  He actually listened to the weird
guy, sometimes anyway.  It turned out that guy related pretty much
everything back to Braveheart.  It made sense, in a way.  Dave still
didn't get jack shit about Braveheart, but some scenes stood out in
his mind.  Well, only two scenes.  The part where the hero's girl gets
killed, and the part where the hero gets killed.  The weird guy tried
to explain some metaphor back to the drugs, and Dave kind of
understood now.  This guy was so weird, but he got him now.  The dude
was just really into Braveheart.

The weird guy couldn't have been more different than anything Dave
took away from the movie, but the man insisted it influenced
everything he did and said.  He said Braveheart was like a metaphor
for how everything worked.  He tried to relate it back to the game,
and that's about where Dave drew the line.  He said no, Braveheart is
nothing like that game.  If you played the game enough you would
realize.  He tried to focus on Braveheart to see the man's point, and
he just couldn't understand what he was saying.  They couldn't be more
different concepts.

One day the guy was talking about that scene, where the hero's girl
gets killed.  For the first time, Dave saw him start to cry.  He
gathered himself, he didn't cry.  He was like Dave, man.  I've been
fucking your ex girlfriend.  I really love her.  Dave said he knew.
He knew all along.  He couldn't be happier for them.

The guy didn't get it though, he really started to cry.  He said he
would make it up to Dave, who couldn't have given less of a shit.


The doctor said one day he had someone he wanted Dave to meet.  Dave
was a bit perplexed.  That seemed weird to him, but whatever.  So in
walks this girl.  She was as hot as any of Dave's ex girlfriends, but
there was something different about her.  Dave looked at the doctor,
like, you're introducing me to a woman...?

The woman was beautiful.  She had thick glasses on.  None of Dave's ex
girlfriends had worn glasses.  She said to him just a few words, and
he knew she was his soulmate.  She said the doctor had told her that
he played Streets of Sim City.  Suddenly Dave was completely sick of
fucking everything up.