Last week, after watching several people purposely walk into large unmovable objects, it was easy to tell that morale was low on campus and that we all needed a much deserved break. This break came at the best possible time, so let's all give Chris Columbus a big wet one for finding the Dominican Republic a full month before the Pilgrims found Boston. His timing was perfect. Unfortunately though, most of my friends had Fall Break two weeks ago when their respective universities celebrated the pre-Columbian era. Though virtually friendless, I was not going to sit home alone. Instead, I went to the mall alone.

At the mall I found some distinct changes had taken place since last break. Nowadays, the security guards carry mace and a generic six shooter. While I expected security to get beefed up, this was a Long Island mall, so I was shocked to see that the new artillery didn't even sport a fashionable brand name. Ralph Lauren Revolvers and Prada Pepper spray were some items of riot gear not issued. The guards were also wearing big round hats, and from what I heard by eavesdropping on two single mothers at a yogurt shop, by the next time I go to the mall the security cowboys will be wearing leather boots with spurs on them. Another addition to the mall was a 42-horse carousel, and since I met the height and age requirement to ride it, I grabbed a ticket and embarked on my first vacation adventure.

I had been on the ride for a couple of revolutions when I saw my prey. Things had been quiet on the first go around, and the second was equally quiet. As I crept towards a horse on the outer perimeter, the only audible sounds were those of the 40 three-year-olds around me burping up apple sauce. Also, I feared that the looping carnival music might give away my position. It was on the third time around that I had the best opportunity to launch my assault. I grabbed my make shift lasso and deployed the rope perfectly, successfully roping a Mall Security Freedom Fighter and displaying impeccable machismo. At that point, I would have ridden my faithful plastic stead into the sunset, but instead, on the fourth time around, the carni-in-charge stopped the ride and kicked me out of the mall. Apparently I had ruined the carousel experience for the other patrons, and messed up a shot in the Aragoni family's home video of their daughter.

Sitting home alone for the rest of the vacation with only my brother to hang out with, I found myself hovering closer and closer to those old bottles of Elmer's Glue. In fact, I had almost figured out the child safety mechanisms on the kitchen cabinets when my brother, Andrew, introduced me to, and subsequently got me addicted to, a computer game called "The Sims."

The point of the game is to design people (called Sims), then design their families, and their homes, and ultimately, make decisions for them and run their lives according to your own divine will. I started out by designing an extroverted male, wearing a blue button-down oxford and khakis, and then I named him "Brad."

For "Brad" I designed an eight bedroom home with a kitchen, a living room, a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, a few couches and chairs, an Olympic tetherball court and ethernet. Each room in the house had a full-sized bed, a desk, a computer, a stereo, a television and a dresser. After designing the house, I moved Brad in with seven of his good friends. Throughout the course of the weekend, I had Brad invite other Sims over to see him. "Slammin' Sara" and her roommates, "BigJuggz Jill" and "Lisa Labia," were just a few of the Sims that routinely came over to hang out with little Brad.

Like a Tomagatchi on steroids, Brad ran around his spacious house eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, showering, playing on his computer, watching TV, taking out the garbage, speaking to his digital vixens on the phone and keeping himself overwhelmed with work. After 12 hours of play, Brad developed "free-will." In the five-or-so minutes I left my room this vacation, little Brad managed to get himself in a hot tub with two of the female Sims. When I came back to the computer, I watched as other neighbors came into the tub too, including a blind Sim, an overweight med-student from Caribbean Medical College and a hoola-hoop designer named Leroy.

Some of you may be wondering how true to life this game can actually be. As a skeptic, you might say to me, "Brad, in the real world, 'Brad' would need a source of income."

This is true, and while the game does have an option to give Sims jobs … I figured that my Sims were so busy doing what they were doing that I would forego giving them real work and use the code my brother gave me: "CTRL+SHFT+Pare-nta-LWe-alth."

After that, I watched Brad battle with seizures of oniomania that caused him to buy everything in the Sim-catalog. Acting the part of a virtual deity, I watched Brad and the other Sims deal with life's dilemmas and trilemmas, and when all their non-work, digital playtime became too stressful for my Sims, I noticed that some of them purposely walked into large unmovable objects.

"What are you doing!" I yelled at my Sims, "you don't have that much serious work to get done, you're not in the real world! What, you think you could use a few days off? Go visit the Sim-mall? Waste your time roping security guards? I wish I had your lives!?!"

I left my Sims at home and haven't thought of them again since returning to school. For all I know they're still buzzing around my CPU dealing with their trivial matters and drudging through work that in the real world doesn't amount to much. As for me, it's nice to be back, buzzing around C.U., though I dread the weeks of hard work ahead. Life in Ithaca will get to me again, and when it happens I might need to leave this hill, rustle up my posse and head down into suburban territory, for a breather from the illegitimate stress that mounts up. So Happy belated Columbus Day, and don't worry about me, I'm sure you've got enough to stress over already
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