Autistic people have something called “special interests”. Special interests are like normal interests on steroids. It’s an obsession with a subject that others may feel is excessive and unnecessary. My special interest was The Minis, a video game made in the 90s.
Often seen as a capitalist simulator, the game focused on Minis – little people that lived little lives. You did everything from building your Mini's houses, to getting married, or witnessing their death. There were several types of players:
Perfectionist: Someone who made the perfect family with perfect relationships. This player micromanaged everything from the house they built to the skills the Minis earned in gameplay. All the Minis were conventionally attractive and heavily modified with programs that made the characters look even hotter.
The Humorist: This was the kind of person that made their Minis into goblins and aliens. Often, they make their friends in their games and burn their houses down, purposely making enemies out of the rest of the neighbors. Science experiments were always suspected. Even encouraged. Don’t be surprised if The Humorist raised a family of cold-hearted criminals.
The Storyteller: The one I relate to the least–making up interesting stories for your Minis. The Minis has several expansion packs as boring as doing your laundry to organizing the mafia. Do you want to play a single mother who dated a serial killer, and now adopts stray dogs? Do you want to play an astronaut that romances aliens? Do you want to play a sugar daddy that escaped prison? Have at it!
The Self Insert: Ah, the self-insert. This was me! This player inserts themselves into the game and lives their wish-fulfilled life. I might have been the overweight, glasses-wearing, freckled-faced weirdo in reality, but I can be a skinny fox in The Minis! Except for being a single, forever virgin, I can have a hot stud who I routinely “Yahoo” with.
I live in a cozy home on the shore next to my best friend, Alyxi. Just like in real life, we grew up together in a small town in Texas (which I equivalent to Greatsville in The Minis). We bonded over cartoons, aliens, and comic books. Allergic to cats in real life, I bought five and raised three little boys named James, Ace, and Liam. We’d have pet dates and go to the movies.
Carter, my husband, looked suspiciously identical to Tom Holland. In this world, my delusions of falling in love seemed reasonable. In The Minis I was likable.
My life was great in The Minis and I played the game after I did my homework until when I fall asleep at three o clock in the morning. Better yet, it was Summer. Outside of hanging out with my one friend, I could play the game endlessly. All to be reminded of how reality at twelve o' clock in the afternoon when I woke up for the last day of Summer.
The night before I had cried myself to sleep thinking about the first day of senior year of high school. Immediately I checked my phone to see if I got a text from Alyxi.
I got a message that said, "Woke up, wanna hang out? I'm bored."
I blinked, still groggy from the night before.
"Sure. Where?" I responded.
"My house, meet me in an HOUR!" she said, before signing off. An hour? Is she nuts? We're in Texas. She lived at least twenty minutes away, and I love my hot baths.
"How about two?" I texted back.
"Cool, see ya then!" she replied, before signing off.
After soaking in the tub, I put on a long t-shirt and jeans and had my brother drop me off. Thankfully, the ride was quiet as I stared out of the window at the rich neighborhoods of my suburb. As we made it north, the houses only got bigger. We stopped in front of Alyxi's white multi-storied house. A Tesla sat in the driveway. I got out of the car and rang the doorbell.
"Come in, I'm in the kitchen!" came a sweet voice. A girl with long black hair opened the door. "Hi, I'm Claire," the girl said.
"I know who you are, Claire," I said to Alyxi's little sister.
I shook my head and ignored her. Alyxi, a tall Venezuelan girl with two pigtails down her chest, was already sitting at her kitchen table. She motioned for me to sit down.
"Hey. Ready for school?" I sat down next to her, my hands on her polished, oak table.
"Yeah," she said. She opened her laptop and started typing in fairy core dress top, Dunk'n Donuts cap, and custom converse shoes.
"You have homework?" I asked.
"A few chapters. I finished most of mine last night."
"How was your night otherwise?"
"Pretty boring. We watched a movie and ate dinner."
"I cried myself to sleep," I said.
"Because school sucks and it’s tomorrow?"
"Yeah, but that's why we have Summer."
"I know, but I was thinking about how much I'll miss it."
We sat in awkward silence for a second. Her fingers tapped away. I wish I was as enthusiastic as she was about the endeavor.
"So, I talked to Sin last night," I said with a blush. Pressing my lips, I gave her a suggestive expression, flickering my eyebrows.
Sin, otherwise known as SinCityReindeerCow, was the closest thing I had to a boyfriend. We chatted exclusively online through The Mini's online chatroom. We both had a strong passion for how the franchise had declined over the years in its most recent sequels -- the original game being our favorite. One thing led to another, and we just sort of clicked. I might be a raisin in my social life, but online I gotta say, I was a bit of a wench. For the whole summer, we’d been sending flirty texts. It was a 2007 version of Greece.
"That's great!" she said with a smile as if she was encouraging me to go out and get a boyfriend.
I rolled my eyes. I was nowhere near ready for a boyfriend. The sheer thought of kissing a man scared me to my core. There's something about bumping orifices that creeped me out. I mean, in low res graphics, it was fine -- use your imagination, but once it came to the high-definition surface, my stomach turned. Alyxi's smile faded, and she looked at me intently.
"So," she started. "Jade told me about this new guy. You should go out with him."
My face bunched up.
"Is he cute?" I asked, trying to sound casual.
"Oh my God, he's freaking gorgeous!"
"No, he's not," I tested her
"Yes, he is!"
"No, he's not."
She stared at me, unimpressed.
"Look, I know you'll like him," she said.
"Show me a picture" She started typing.
"I'm not showing you any picture of him until you admit that he might be pretty," she said.
"Fine," I said. She turned her laptop and showed me a dark-haired, chiseled man – chiseled in every way. He's dressed in a dashing tuxedo. I stared at her. This was obviously the first thing she found on Google. She laughed.
"Yeah, give me his number," I said sarcastically.
"I'm serious. You'll meet him, he's a really cool guy."
"Whatever," I said. "So, Sin wants to meet me in person."
"Oh, you're desperate," Alyxi said as if it were a bad thing.
"He apparently lives in the area."
"That's how you get murdered."
"We've been talking for a while. I don't think he's going to murder me."
"Well, he could be dangerous. You should be careful"
"Don't worry," I said as if it was easy.
"Where are you going to meet him?" she asked.
"The arcade," I said raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, you should be fine. As long as you're not alone, he won't bother you."
"If I disappear, you'll know who did it."
“I won't like it, but I'll know."
"Fine, I'll text you his number." I took out my phone and typed in my new friend's phone number into hers.
Right around six thirty that night I got a text from my Mom that I should come home in preparation for school the next morning. I lugged myself home feeling the dread in my stomach. Only a few hours before I have to go to sleep and wake up at a whopping five o clock in the morning.
I already ate at Alyxi's house, so I went straight to my room and lay on my bed. On, my legs I propped up my laptop and logged into The Minni's forum. At the corner of the screen, I saw a little notification. Sin, my future husband, messaged me. Making a joyous wiggle, I opened it up and took a look.
SinCityReindeerCow: Hey, AngelRinoa, I am probably going to murder you tomorrow. I am a psychopath.
Angel Rinoa: That's not very nice
SinCityReindeerCow: Well, I'm sorry
AngelRinoa: How are you going to murder me?
SinCityReindeerCow: By getting you alone and stabbing you
AngelRinoa: That's not very exciting
SinCityReindeerCow: I know. I'll probably strangle you with a bow tie.
AngelRinoa: You're sick
SinCityReindeerCow: Yup. So, when did you want to meet up? I'll be at the arcade at like 4
AngelRinoa: See you there, stud
I giggled to myself. I couldn't wait.
AngelRinoa: You know what you should do? Send me a picture of yourself
He did. He sent me a picture of himself in a cheap tuxedo, his shoulders down making a sign with his hands. I wondered if it was real.
AngelRinoa: Send me a photo of your face
I waited, and waited, and waited.
SinCityReindeerCow: Fine, I'm sending you a picture of my face
A photo pops up. It's of his hand flipping me off.
AngelRinoa: Ha ha ha ha. I'll show you my face if you show me yours.
SinCityReindeerCow: Fine, fine, fine.
A photo of his face, eyes closed, eyebrows furrowed, and a crooked smile. I laughed. It was hard getting a good image of his looks based on the expression, but he didn't seem that bad looking. Going to the bathroom, I started fixing up my hair and lining my lips with lipstick. Doing the rest of my face, I made a duck expression in the mirror.
Yeah. I didn't look half bad. Taking the photo at an angle, I made myself look as thin as possible.
SinCityReindeerCow: Nice, you look good.
I frowned. That's it? I put in all that effort and not much of a response. I felt a little hurt, but I knew I shouldn't be too upset. After all, he could murder me tomorrow.
AngelRinoa: I need to go to bed. Good night. ;)
SinCityReindeerCow: Good night. ;)
AngelRinoa: *kisses your cheek*
SinCityReindeerCow: *blows you a kiss*
Oh my god. I didn't think he'd flirt back.
AngelRinoa: *kisses you on the lips*
SinCityReindeerCow: *blows you a kiss*
I could tell what I was typing was making him uncomfortable, but I did it anyways. I mean, I had to get a response out of him.
AngelRinoa: Sorry, can I kiss you?
AngelRinoa: Kiss me.
SinCityReindeerCow: *kisses you on the lips*
I smiled to myself. A real, honest to god smile. How far could I get away with this? I looked around my filth-ridden room. I looked at the door. It was locked. Good.
AngelRinoa: Just so you know, I am a virgin. So I probably won't have sex with you tomorrow. I hope that's okay
AngelRinoa: I'm sorry. If it upsets you, we can have sex after a few weeks?
SinCityReindeerCow: I'm glad you trust me
AngelRinoa: You can trust me, too
He didn't respond for a moment.
SinCityReindeerCow: Good night
AngelRinoa: Good night.
Giggling, I got ready for bed, turned off the light, and lay on the sheeted mattress. I stared at the ceiling and imagined meeting him at the arcade tomorrow. I'd walk in, my hair and face done, wearing my sexiest outfit. He'd be standing there waiting for me. Sin would be a good-looking guy, but not too good-looking. I was realistic, after all. Together we'd play video games and talk into the night.
However, he probably would get the wrong idea about me. Maybe he would anticipate sex even though I told him I wouldn't do it? Guys were like that. They expect something for their time. I couldn't allow that. Sure, I was meeting after school, but maybe I could leave early. I started splicing together a discussion to prove I really am a good person, and I just wasn't ready. I hoped it'd turn out well.