Thursday, June 21, 2007

We got Wii'd

First Daughter, looking appropriately abashed (after some coaching) and taking responsibility

It had to happen at some point. We're not the first.

A pleasant April night. A spirited session of Wii Bowling between 9 year-old First Son and 7 year-old First Daughter. The boy is up by 9 pins, in the 8th frame. First Daughter is trying mightily to beat him. Wii games can be played from your chair, with nothing more than your wrist -- but where's the fun in that? Maybe the accelerometer can tell how much you want to win if you swing it very hard...

She was wearing the wrist strap, we're pretty serious about that. The Wife and I had heard the stories, we always made them wear the strap. But we didn't always check that the cinch was tight. Oops.

A mighty throw I witnessed. A throw of authority, recklessness, enthusiasm and maybe a tinge of desperation. And then, it happened.

Psychologists who investigate trauma describe the ability to minutely observe dramatic events as tachypsychia, an abnormal perception of time. From my perch on the couch I saw the follow through, and the unfortunate release of the controller. "No problem", I thought in the briefest sliver of assessment, "she's wearing the wrist strap."

And then I saw the strap seem to dilate, slowly expanding to slip the bound of her wrist, and finally slide past the fingers, the controller and the strap now assuming a ballistic path. The unhindered controller flew arrow-straight, the wrist strap whirling gleefully like a thin, grey flag of freedom behind it.

In the time it took to travel the six feet or so from its launch point to its final impact, I had time to realize the error in not tightening the cinch, become briefly angry that this event I was witnessing was occurring at all, calculate its trajectory, realize with a dawning horror that the TV was about to be hit, think for a moment, "Naah. That's too silly to be true," recheck the projected impact point to see if it was going to hit the cabinet, and finally realize that this was happening, the impact was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do about it. I actually became briefly interested to see what was going to happen, and only flinched when I remembered that televisions can sometimes explode.

The Kubler-Ross stages of grief and tragedy, all flickering by in a third of a second.

Then, time resumed its normal course, and with a comic book CRACK! the Wiimote struck the screen of our Sony WEGA 43" rear-projection television, at the time a little over 7 years old.

Surprisingly, at the time, little to nothing happened. After a brief assessment, the First Daughter fled the scene for the darkest recesses of her bedroom closet accompanied by a dopplering fury of wails of decreasing pitch and tears, sure that I would be furious. I was, briefly. But the TV kept going. Closer inspection revealed a stellate series of cracks in the lower right corner. But this is a projection television, the screen is reflective and there is no high-vacuum tube to explode, as a standard TV would. The surface glass was cracked but with minimal distortion of the image. It took much less time to realize our TV had, um, acquired personality but would continue to serve than it did to coax the girl out of the closet.

It's impressive how perspective changes things. I'd been wanting to upgrade our standard-defintion TV downstairs, but previously had no reason to do so. I got a good story without much in the way of real damage. And First Daughter was so distraught that other than a moderately stern warning about using the cinch on the Wiimote wrist strap, I couldn't bring myself to punish her. Accidents happen, this one won't happen again.

The TV still works, I don't know how or if we'll fix it. A simple replacement of the glass should work, but we haven't called anyone about it yet. The new part probably costs more than the value of the unit, and it doesn't really interfere with the function of the thing. Having the crack in the middle of the family room also is a silent reminder to the kids that unplanned events can and will occur, and a modicum of preparation and consideration in your life is probably wise. Reminds me of that, too.

A minimal price to pay.

The crack


Troy M. Stirman said...

Great Ballistic Play-by-Play!!!!!

I'm rolling in my office.....sorry, I had to tell someone!


Mike Riley said...

There's actually a very good sermon contained in that last paragraph.
Congratulations on surviving such a trauma!