I Don’t Take It Easy

If you didn't play as the Grim Reaper, your inner child never had a chance.
An ancient artifact from a bygone civilization.

Like any productive member of society, I do my laundry around 2:50 am. It used to be for the silence, now it’s simple routine. I could change, but then I might pick up other self-destructive habits like sobriety or pacifism.

There is danger. Not the base danger that the irate homeless pose to the body (the world after 2:27 am is theirs), but rather threats to the mind. I recently had my sanity tested by an arcade cabinet. The arcade cabinet won.

Guitar Hero hasn’t been relevant in this decade, making the presence of a “Guitar Hero: Arcade” cabinet a pleasant surprise. I have pleasant memories of playing Rolling Stones songs with my only two friends until the sun rose (I’ve never really slept) and cast a judgmental eye on our sinful jobless ways. Better times. I suspect that the secret to happiness is parents capable and willing to support one’s inane habits indefinitely. In short, I support Universal Basic Income.

Libertarian/socialist/Reddit theory aside, I felt a flash of nostalgic warmth as I loaded three months of clothing into one beleaguered machine. As sparks and smoke flooded the room behind me, I watched the unattended machine select free play, the default personality-free avatar, and the song “Slow Ride.”

You might not remember the opening lyrics of Slow Ride. Behold:

Slow ride
Take it easy

That’s a lot to unpack, especially for my hippitty-hop withered millennial brain. The game went through this lyric about four times before the untended round ended. Though I had sympathy for the simple, catchy bass lick underneath, I knew that all mediocre things had to come to an end.

Except this one. Roughly forty-five seconds after the game failed to beat itself, it reselected captain generic, generic guitar, and the song Slow Ride. It failed. The song began again. My laundry had a half hour left in the washer alone.

At this point, I suspected I was fucked.

Never one to give up with a bright-eyed laundromat employee watching, I tried using the left controller. No response. Right controller. No response. “Idiot,” I thought. “You have to give it money. This is America, you’re not allowed to hold office or make eye contact with a doctor without money. Eventually, they’ll find a way to stop you peasants from pirating all that free Monsanto air.”

I tried feeding the machine a dollar. It didn’t want it, or any other dollar, or any size coin. The machine was dedicated to the slow ride. I needed to take it easy. The woman behind the counter gave me a knowing smile, and plugged her earplugs into her apple toy. I swore that before I killed myself, she would pay for that. Then Slow Ride played again. Or rather, the first thirty seconds of Slow Ride.

I knew I was fucked.

Still, I maintained a brave face. For the next twenty orbits of slow ride, I tended to my phone, untouched graduate school work, my phone, the copy of Reamde weighing down my backpack, and my phone. I only kicked the Slow Ride hellbox once or four times, and traded casual banter with other laundry folk that neither overtly mentioned nor hinted at violent murder. I was a model citizen.

God didn’t care. I was on the Slow Ride. I had to take it easy.

Despite my addiction to hyperbole, I usually have weak reactions. I have dull emotional nerve endings, as dates are fond of telling me during our last week or so together. Normally, I trend towards taking it easy.

But nothing makes it harder to take it easy then a game that was cool when trump was a verb asking you to take it easy while repeating the same three or four power chords with a guitar tone that can only be described as “dad rock’s dad rock” at a time of day when the sane world is dreaming of the important and fulfilling things they will accomplish instead of listening to the violent death throes of a franchise defeated by a rival with the brilliant half-idea of “let’s add drums that almost work” such as actually writing the half-baked piece of sci-fi trash I planned on working on tonight instead of having the words SLOW RIDE, TAKE IT EASY branded onto the useful part of my brain. It got old.

For a few rotations, I convinced myself that I loved the slow ride. I thought I could pull a “he loved big brother” with the rock track rejected by every Vietnam war film seeking an upbeat song to semi-ironically play over a helicopter scene. It didn’t work. I was angrier at the slow ride than ever.

I felt myself become less human. I knew that if I found a surviving member of Foghat, I wouldn’t simply murder them. I would have to construct my own Saw-style dungeon, where I held their eyes open and looped a bass-boosted, chopped and screwed Nightcore version of Slow Ride. The moral and financial cost would be steep, but my statement would never be forgotten.

I also noted that Foghat is an awful band name.

Eventually, I found a kind of acceptance. In time, the universe would die, and the heartless demiurge behind my pain would die with it. More importantly, Slow Ride would be contained to our reality, leaving the new universe the chance to be something better. Something new.

Then my laundry finished. Four days later, a licensed therapist said I might have Asperger’s.

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