I turned 13 in late May of 1995. For the occasion, my girlfriend got me a computer game called Chop Suey (playable online for frees here now) that she said reminded her of us a little. It was an atmosphere-driven, point-and-click exploration game about a pair of sisters superbly named Lily and June Bugg and their various, Harriet the Spy-style escapades around their small, working class Midwestern town after they eat too much chop suey and fall into a daydreamy haze.

The girls explore the bedroom of their aunt Vera (who they absolutely love because she's so full of life) and try on her "glamorous" outfits and makeup, pretend they're angels and fly to New York, and discover items that tell of her past as a Rockette on Broadway (including a particularly hilarious video clip where the video quality is so bad that the various Rockette's upper and lower bodies appear to shuffle onto one-another). You meet her son Dooner, get to hear his music and read his diary about his relationship to his girlfriend Monica, explore the carnival, step in shit, and visit an awesome shop called Cupid's Treats run by a tattooed biker-looking type who has, among other things, a live human hand in a jar. You also get to clothe Mud Pup the dog, listen to a bunch of legits amazing songs (my favorite being the one sung by the trio of pickles), read fortunes, play bingo, and get stalked by a black cat who turns out to accompany a witch at the edge of town who's baking a guy. Stuff like that. It's pretty funny and clever. It's a simple, anarchic slice-of-life type game with no real sequential order of events or traditional gamey challenges, but lots of personality and loads of stuff to click upon and explore, stress-free, for the simple sake of curiosity. It dares kids...and adults...to be imaginative and take risks. That's essentially what it's about.

We spent about an hour on it that evening. We went back to it several times thereafter in 20-ish minute plays whenever we'd visit one-another's houses. Just under a month later, her family moved away. I never saw her again. That's how it is in the town where I live: over time, people tend to leave. They don't move in. The game's lead creator, Theresa Duncan, killed herself 12 years later.

That all strikes me as sort of like the mood of Chop Suey itself: bittersweet. The characters in the game, and indeed the town itself, have problems (like Aunt Vera, for example, has three ex-husbands all named Bob), but there's also an aura of joy amidst the pain. Like my real-life town, Chop Suey's is one that doesn't seem to be doing so great, but who's residents find happiness nonetheless. I love my town in that same sort of way too. Chop Suey reminds me of my first love, and of the end of that love at the same time, and helps me put my relationship to my past and to my community back in perspective a little by reminding me to find the joy that's there in the midst of the suffering that life entails, like you did when you were young. And to always stay curious about life.

Just thought I'd try and explain a little about why this game always appears near the top of my favorites lists today. Part of it's objective and part of it's personal.

Last edited by Jaicee - on 28 September 2019

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That's a really touching story Jaicee. I wanna ask a question or two, but I'll just leave it be.



Chinese food for breakfast

 

COKTOE said:
That's a really touching story Jaicee. I wanna ask a question or two, but I'll just leave it be.

You can ask!



Jaicee said:
COKTOE said:
That's a really touching story Jaicee. I wanna ask a question or two, but I'll just leave it be.

You can ask!

Okee. :) So, losing contact with your girlfriend after she moved away...Is it one of those things that "just kind of happened"? Did you want to call, but didn't have the means to do so? It was a different time for sure, and you were very young. Just curious. I lost contact with people, 2 good friends who were brothers, that moved at that age as well, and they only moved about 7 miles away, literally to opposite end of the city I live in.



Chinese food for breakfast

 

COKTOE said:

Okee. :) So, losing contact with your girlfriend after she moved away...Is it one of those things that "just kind of happened"? Did you want to call, but didn't have the means to do so? It was a different time for sure, and you were very young. Just curious. I lost contact with people, 2 good friends who were brothers, that moved at that age as well, and they only moved about 7 miles away, literally to opposite end of the city I live in.

It was substantially a distance issue. There wasn't Facebook or anything similar back in 1995. We actually did call back and forth a number of times after that, and at one point, about a year later, were even planning out an opportunity to meet again. It kept getting pushed back though and I think after a certain point she just didn't want to talk about it anymore because she had moved on with her life, so she just stopped answering my calls.



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Jaicee said:
COKTOE said:

Okee. :) So, losing contact with your girlfriend after she moved away...Is it one of those things that "just kind of happened"? Did you want to call, but didn't have the means to do so? It was a different time for sure, and you were very young. Just curious. I lost contact with people, 2 good friends who were brothers, that moved at that age as well, and they only moved about 7 miles away, literally to opposite end of the city I live in.

It was substantially a distance issue. There wasn't Facebook or anything similar back in 1995. We actually did call back and forth a number of times after that, and at one point, about a year later, were even planning out an opportunity to meet again. It kept getting pushed back though and I think after a certain point she just didn't want to talk about it anymore because she had moved on with her life, so she just stopped answering my calls.

Oh my god Jaicee. That's so sad. I would have preferred to hear that evil forces were conspiring to keep you apart. I suppose that vast majority of us have dealt with situations like that, but I'm a soft touch. It's why I avoid sad movies.



Chinese food for breakfast

 

It's cool that you have a story attached to the game like that.

I've found that so many of our memories of games of the past are less about the games and more about the people we played them with. As it should be.



Thanks for sharing, Jaicee. Visiting these keystone moments in our lives, and especially our childhoods, is always a mystical journey. It's funny how you can look back on a single summer, for instance, that seemed like an entire lifetime. And as we recollect on it it even seems to continue to exist in this other place and can be revisited just the way you remember it. I do love that we grew up in a time where phones were mostly attached to walls and cords, and distances truly meant something. And just hanging out with a friend was enough. You were there entertainment and they were yours and if you were enjoying something you were enjoying it together. Nowadays when you're hanging out with someone you know they're constantly in another place, whether waiting for a certain text, an email, the news, or whatever. I myself struggle with "being here now" for the people I care about. It just seemed so much easier then...or maybe that's just revisionist fantasy. Who knows.



super_etecoon said:
Thanks for sharing, Jaicee. Visiting these keystone moments in our lives, and especially our childhoods, is always a mystical journey. It's funny how you can look back on a single summer, for instance, that seemed like an entire lifetime. And as we recollect on it it even seems to continue to exist in this other place and can be revisited just the way you remember it. I do love that we grew up in a time where phones were mostly attached to walls and cords, and distances truly meant something. And just hanging out with a friend was enough. You were there entertainment and they were yours and if you were enjoying something you were enjoying it together. Nowadays when you're hanging out with someone you know they're constantly in another place, whether waiting for a certain text, an email, the news, or whatever. I myself struggle with "being here now" for the people I care about. It just seemed so much easier then...or maybe that's just revisionist fantasy. Who knows.

To be honest with you, I often feel the same way about the role of technology today in my own life. It feels like it's taken over too much. I split my own concentration way more often than I used to for sure.



COKTOE said:

Oh my god Jaicee. That's so sad. I would have preferred to hear that evil forces were conspiring to keep you apart. I suppose that vast majority of us have dealt with situations like that, but I'm a soft touch. It's why I avoid sad movies.

Well, my deeply conservative parents would certainly have conspired to keep us apart had they known the depths of our affections for sure, and they counted as kind of evil to me back then. There were other relationships more akin to what you're suggesting that I experienced in my high school years.

You know, speaking of movies, I can be a wimp myself, tbh. Titanic makes me bawl like a baby, let alone Carol. But then I feel cleansed and kind of glad that someone else knew how I felt.