I finally went to class again. Mr. Jenkins was at it again, and I was beginning to suspect that he was playing a bit of devil's advocate with us. However, I found that they had dropped the topic of sex. We'd moved on to the next best thing: violence. Recreational violence, to be exact. My notes amused me.
"It's an oxymoron, folks! Always has been, always will be. From the days of tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, the so-called Nintendo generation, the paint-ball arenas, the children who had grown up on online gaming to become serial killers, and from the first holographic first-person shooter; all the way to present day - and the SIM technology."
His arms were, indeed, flailing. In fact, he looked violent himself. I didn't catch all his historical references to things past, and I didn't care. My mind was elsewhere.
That's right. Her smile had enticed me, and we'd set a date. The two of us were going out. It was, after all, and much to my disappointment, quite the pick-up line.
"We went over this with Sister Hotke," Peter Landon spoke up, God bless his moronic ass, "care to give us something new?"
"Well, you all clearly did not enjoy my reading of The Child With No Parents," Mr. Jenkins recalled. "But I suppose I can come up with something."
He was referencing a short-story I had missed. The notes I copied from Katie-Anne told me it was about a young SIMmer couple who had decided to have sexual intercourse in the real world to see if it was any different. And because they were both so physically inactive and attached to a machine for most of their lives, it was by far the worst sex they'd ever had. Within a week, they had broken up. And the woman, who then became pregnant, knew nothing of where children came from. They got back together, blaming each other, and the child was raised by parents who didn't want it and preferred to turn their backs upon their child and spend time with their SIM units. And their SIMming not only excluded each other, it excluded their child as well, as much as legally possible.
"Will it be another isolated incident you thrust upon us as a generalization?" Peter asked, grinning broadly as if he'd just won a prize for reiterating yesterday's criticism.
Yes, she had a stalwart ally in him. Not because Peter agreed with her, though, but because Peter Jerkface Landon hated authority. Did I mention his middlename is Jerkface? Because it isn't. But it should be. Heck, maybe it is.
I knew by now that she was a diagnosed SIM addict. No matter how snarkily slanderous the stains on her reputation seemed, I came to accept them as truth. Truth that I didn't care about. At least, not enough to get in the way of her smile.
Our SIM expert went on, mentioning the merits of the story. All the non-fiction awards it had won. His wife had wrote it. It was only logical. Why wouldn't he defend it? Poor Peter. Subjectivity will go far on his next paper.
Mr. Roy Jenkins gave us a list. I marked them in my notes as bullet points. They were popular SIM 'realities' that thrived upon recreational violence. He asked us to put asterisks beside all the cross-overs between this list and its promiscuous counterpart. That was more than half of them. And as he described their differences, their companies, their development, I found myself looking over my shoulder.
Katie-Anne was smiling. That smile I like so much. Why now? She brought a hand to her neck and thoughtfully rubbed at the back of her neck, as if she had an itchy vertebra. Then I realized, That's where she plugs in.
Except that 'plug-in', thanks to SIM culture, had become a sexual euphemism. And now, as I turned back to look at Mr. Jenkins, I was the one with a grin on my face.
My right hand was scribbling frantically on my touch-pad, trying to put down as much detail as possible. About fictional worlds. How their participants lived in and out of them. The kinds of things that had influenced them. Some were ancient in technology. Others were futuristic, and existed as a world with mock-science and things we'd yet to invent. Others had naturally stylized hair and eyes. Some even had inhuman roles for participants.
I expected her to be making counter-arguments in her mind, about how it was all curbing ancient instincts within us. Giving us an outlet for hateful urges within us all. Violence without death. Sex without consequence. Diminished pain. Sometimes, I wondered, Where was the humanity?
When Mr. Jenkins was done, he told us that tomorrow he'd lecture us about more psychological things. Mostly, how the conscious minds of SIMmers never slept, and thus how they lived at a disadvantage because they could not dream. He told us they had closed a door to their unconscious minds and their processing of information was, hence, skewed.
I could already see, in my mind, a hypothetical visual. It was a chart about increased mental afflictions in SIMmers. A fair exchange for STIs and STDs? Not likely. So, it had piqued my interest. For the moment.
And so had she. For the moment.