Some people have said that the high point of evolution thus far is the human race, but I disagree. I think it’s shrimp. I love shrimp. I once wrote a poem about shrimp that I styled after She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron; the first line was “They swim in yummy, like Brad Pitt.” If a genie appeared before me and offered to make me live forever on the sole condition that I never eat shrimp again, I’m honestly not sure if I’d say yes or no (though this scenario is highly unlikely, as I never polish my lamps). They’re just that delicious.
My weakness for the delectable decapod crustaceans will occasionally lead me to do things I would normally never do. For instance: one night my friends and I were at a restaurant sharing a platter of coconut shrimp. Now, I love my friends. I do. They’ve made me a better person and life without them would be a joyless wasteland. But I really wanted those shrimp. They were little curls of perfection in a crispy beer batter, and I wanted them all to myself. I would love to say that I wrestled with, or at least acknowledged, this ethical conundrum, but I didn’t. Instead, I said this:
Little Blind Girl: Hey guys, I read an article the other day that called video games the most interesting and provocative artwork since Picasso went blue. What do you think?
Here’s why saying that makes me a rotten person: half of my friends think video games are the primary cause of moral decay in modern society. The other half of my friends love video games the way I love shrimp. I knew this, and I made the statement knowing that it would immediately plunge my friends into an argument so fervid and fanatical that they would lose all track of the world (and the seafood) around them. This is an excerpt from the transcript:
Friend 1: No! You did not just compare Picasso’s Guernica to Call of Duty! Picasso created an enduring portrait of devastated innocence! I’ve watched you play Call of Duty, and the only thing you do is shoot people, die, and start over again!
Friend 2: Guernica and Call of Duty both make you think about the role of the individual in the face of violence and destruction!! And Call of Duty makes you take an active role in the process!! All you can do with Guernica is stare at it!!
Friend 3: Guernica confronts us with uncomfortable truths, whether we accept them or not!!! The most uncomfortable truth a video game will confront you with is that your reaction time is sub par!!! That isn’t art!!!
Man At Next Table Over: Didn’t Warhol say that art is what you can get away with?
Friend 1: OH REALLY? WELL, I BET I CAN GET AWAY WITH STABBING THIS FORK THROUGH YOUR HAND! SOMEBODY CALL THE LOUVRE!
You’ll notice that my name doesn’t appear in the transcript. That’s because, while my friends were vehemently debating the artistic merits of Grand Theft Auto, I was eating my way through the entire platter of shrimp. I took my time; you don’t rush culinary masterpieces like that. Plus, I knew my friends would keep going for at least 20 minutes, so I savored my spoils and enjoyed the show. I finished before they did, and they were all a little surprised to find the platter empty:
Friend 1: I don’t care what you say, no video game that lets you earn “star power” has any true artistic merit. (Glances at the table) Wow, have we eaten all the shrimp already?
Little Blind Girl: Looks that way.
Friend 2: I can’t remember eating any at all. Funny how you lose track of things sometimes.
Friend 3: I don’t know about you, but I’m still hungry. Let’s order another platter.
Little Blind Girl: Really? Well, okay, if you want to. Waiter!
(For those who are curious about the title: Here’s a link to Confessions Part One.)