The college session is over and we plan to write together during the Christmas holiday. Here is vhapter 25 in the meantime, in time for Christmas!
My life so far, episode 16: Portal
Letters : 16824 Words : 3149
In this episode, Julie plays portal for the first time. In the real life, I ended up showing my daughter how to play, but she didn't do as well as Julie did.
One of the longest episodes, but it's also a lot of description of a video game, so we thought, my daughter and I, that we shouldn't cut it in half.
Carter was the one to fetch me. It was raining a little more, but it didn't seem to bother him.
"Hello Mrs Kylie, I was planning on teaching your daughter how to play Portal at Clara and Peter's house. It's a video game. Lucy and Mindy are already there, starting it. Do you mind if I borrow your daughter?", he says in a weird hyper formal tone.
"Not at all young man, but just call me Kylie", mom said, smiling.
"Sure thing. Oh, and Clara invited the four of us for lunch, and said you and your husband were welcome to come if you wanted"
"Can you thank her for me, and tell her that I will let her know once my husband is awake. Have fun"
"Thank Kylie", he says, nodding, but then, waiting for me, silently.
"Borrow a towel from Clara, kiddo. If you bring one, it will be all wet"
I thanked her and ran to Clark.
As we walk, and he tells me how excited he was for me to discover the game, back in his teenage voice, I ask him what that tone was.
"Oh, that's my mother-in-law's speech."
"When a boy picks up a girl, he needs to look all proper, there is a sort of hidden protocol between the boy and the girl's mother. Did you hear her call me young man?"
"That was a way to remind me of my place. Politely, but then, she told me to call her by her first name, so she signaled she trusted me."
"But I am not your girlfriend"
"Doesn't matter. Any single boy who picks up a single girl, gets the treatment."
"So you are like that with Lisa?", I ask, about Lucy's mother
"Oh yeah", he says as we make it, even more wet, to Mindy's house.
By the door is a pink umbrella.
I look at it, and while he knocks, he tells me that it's Lucy's
"Almost all of her clothing is light pink,'' he says, smiling.
As it turns out, it is her who answers the door, with two towels.
"Clara is busy and told me to give you towels", she says, smiling and then, asked me if I had a good night
Clark starts with his feet, so I do the same, but then he gets inside, and keep drying himself, while I answer Lucy
"I did. What about you?"
"Always. Here I sleep like a baby, No too freaked out by Robert?", she whispers to me
"He told you?"
"No, but I ain't stupid. I can put 2 and 2 together Ji. Listen, if you need someone to talk to, I am there for you. I'll leave my number to your parents, call me anytime."
"Really?" I reply
"Hey, sisters have to stick together", she says, but she lifts her wrist, with the pinkie sticking out.
Stunned, I do the same and she hooks our pinkies together.
"Sisters for life", she whispers to me.
Stunned, I follow her to the living room, where Mindy is playing the game.
"Hey Julie, I'll reset it for you", she says, pausing the game.
"No, keep playing", I tell her.
"No, today is all about you, discovering it", says Mindy.
Ok, so she is sending back the elevator. Nice.
Mindy was sitting on the floor, on a towel which was wide enough for two. She hit the excess fabric a few times and I sat next to her.
Clark sits on a towel, on the couch, and Lucy goes to cuddle next to him.
I got the controller.
"What are the controls?", I ask
"The game will teach you", says Mindy
I nod, and press the new game button.
For you, it's a very old, archaic game. For me then, it was an old game I missed. I was not much of a gamer then, but I could manage.
I held controllers in my hand before, so I am not completely newb.
The game does hold your hand, so I follow along, learning the basics, when Clara comes with a tray with crackers and cheese.
Before leaving, she whispers to Lucy and Clark, trying to be discreet, but I can follow along while playing.
"Kids, I don't want to sound like old cranky woman. I don't! I think you are a really cute as boyfriend and girlfriend and I am happy to have you in my home. Truly. I think you are really good influences for my daughter and I hope you see you again soon. But, would it bother you a lot to, like..."
"Be further apart?", says Lucy
Lucy moves just far enough to no longer touch Clark.
"No worries Mrs Clara. There are different ways to live naturism, and I fully respect yours. It was inconsiderate of us to be so close in your beautiful house. You've been such a good host. You will not need to repeat your request, not today, not ever. Be assured that we fully respect your values."
"I thank you, Lucy. Perhaps I am a little old-fashioned", says Clara
But I saw her cuddling with her husband about 24 hours ago.
Oh, her husband. Lucy and Clark are not married. She even opened up with girlfriend and boyfriend.
That's the difference.
They do say grace at meals, even if I didn't put more importance in my story.
Nevertheless, she still leaves us alone, and as I am still in the second level, I tell Clark.
"So Lucy is as good as you with parents?"
"Are you kidding me? I am an amateur. She is a professional".
"Please. I don't get paid. I am just an expert", she says, laughing. It's one of those laughs that illuminate a whole room.
I didn't need help so far, but I really love it when I move from a portal on the floor to a portal on the wall.
Mindy turns to ask a question to the young couple.
"Can I ask what the intervention from my mother was all about?" Mindy says.
Lucy laughs, and then, Carter explains.
"There are two main ways to approach affection in a naturist setting. No, wait, 3. I guess it's two, but one of them is in two flavors"
Lucy interrupts him.
"Mindy, some schools allow couples to kiss in the hallway and others don't. Do you get that?"
"It's the same with people. Some are turned off by public display of affection and others don't mind"
"They mind their own business", says Mindy
Lucy laughs. "Wow, you've got spunk. Yeah, they do. Now, if I am at a friend's house, and we are watching the TV with them, most won't mind if I cuddle Carter. Some wouldn't even mind if I sat on his lap, and I often do."
"Yeah, and when you get a boyfriend, sometimes you will"
"If you say so", says Mindy
"But in your home, I would never even think of sitting on his lap. Ever"
"Why?", asks Mindy
"Because we are in a naturist setting. When a girl sits nude on a boy's nude lap, it's not the same as when wearing clothes, and no, I will not explain if you don't get it"
But Mindy does, and I do too.
"But cuddling", says Lucy. "Well, some people see that as fine even when nude, and others don't see it that way"
"But my mom frequently cuddles my dad, and they are almost always nude in the house"
"Perhaps, but it's her house, not mine."
"Is that why they don't hold hands at the resort?", ask Mindy
Lucy laughs. "Older naturists have problems with people holding hands, and the place is filled with them. I think that in 20 to 30 years, naturist resorts will accept hand holding a whole lot more than today"
"So it's a rule?"
"Well, I don't know for this place, but it's certainly good manners.", says Carter.
"Thanks guys.", says Mindy and they return to me.
I feel observed, but I don't mind. It's rather fun. I feel like I am wasting way too much time everywhere exploring, but when I comment on it, they tell me that I am fine.
"It's a 4 hour game, no need to take that long, but it's okay if you do", says Carter
"But you speedrun it much faster"
"Yeah, because I know the game inside out and I can optimize every move. I even have a few skips"
But the game isn't that hard. I can see why a second run would make it faster, it's just a matter of knowing what to do.
When the conservation of movement test comes, I am actually even more interested in the game.
And getting the portal gun with both orange and blue makes the game so much better.
"From here, a lot of skips are possible.", he says
"I don't doubt it"
"Oh, she just said I will be missed", I tell them about the narrator, but all 3 laugh. I guess she won't.
Soon, she offers cake.
"Wait, is that where the comment the cake is a lie comes from?", I ask
"We won't spoil it, but yeah"
There is a chamber where a spark needs to be guided to next to it, and it's tough. I need a few minutes. Carter proposes help, but I refuse and get it, but then, it just gets more complicated.
"Will this chamber ever end?", I say, frustrated with one of the challenges, but I am reassured.
Mindy however, had a plan. She wanted to take the opportunity to ask questions to the teens.
"Are you naturists from birth too?", she asks, which is a cool question: It allows to build some closeness and shows that she was.
"Oh yeah", says Lucy. "Second and half generation."
"And a half?", says Mindy, surprised.
"My mom discovered naturism from a friend, when she was my age. Her parents were worried and ended up joining too, but they didn't raise her and her siblings initially. But now, most of my family is."
"That is cool", says Mindy
"If you think that's cool, ask Carter", Lucy says, in a happy tone.
"So you've been a naturist all your life too?", says Mindy
"Yeah, 6th generation", he says
"Wait, shut the front door. How is that even possible.", says Mindy, who turns to look at him.
I admit, I am interested too.
"That is cool"
"It is", says Lucy
"But with FKK, it's not full time like you, it's more like an activity. Well, at first. My ancestors went with their young kids and raised them in FKK. They raised their kids too, but then, in 1933, these clubs were banned. Some of the family just gave up, but my great-great-great grandfather and his wife fled Germany and came to the USA. They of course arrived in New York, everyone did, and they discovered the Sky Farm, from the American League for Physical culture"
"I heard of it! First naturist club in the USA", says Mindy
"Indeed. Mostly from German immigrants like Max and his father. Georg if I recall"
"Yeah, Georg, without an e at the end. It struck me", says Lucy
He laughs. "But the ALPC had already been renamed the American Sunbathing Association and while Georg enjoyed social nudity, he didn't like the way the Americans did it"
"What do you mean?", says Mindy
"I have no clue. It's what my father tells me, but honestly? I don't know more, and he doesn't either."
"Fair enough", says Mindy
"But we kept being naturists. Max had two boys, including Klaus, my grand-father who still lives in a naturist resort full time with his brother and his kids. Well, each in their place"
"Of course", says Mindy"
"It's a nice place, even if it's a little far away. He has adorable cousins", says Lucy
"My father grew up at one, but my mother made him compromise. We would be nude at home when possible, visit resorts and activities, but live in normal society. She wasn't born a naturist and feared isolation"
"Me, it's my father who felt the same way", says Lucy. "My mother however, never lived in one, just visited. I am not certain if she would have wanted it."
And I reached room 16, which has killer robots.
No, killer turrets... Which are robots.
I ask for my first hint, which Lucy provides. "You can pick one from the back and hit the others from the side"
Of course. I can pick up stuff.
"So how did you meet?", asks Mindy, going bolder.
Lucy laughs, again, filling the room.
"We always knew each other"
"Oh yeah. My mother sort of... dated Robert for a while", says Lucy, letting her voice trail off.
"What?" says Mindy.
Even I turn away, and Lucy is a little red in the cheeks from the shame.
"Only for a few weeks", says Carter. "They were both teenagers going to naturist activities and for Lisa, naturism was only a few years old, you know? The had a crush, dated for a few weeks and realized they didn't have much in common apart from going to naturist activities"
"But they remained friends, and were bridesmaids at each other weddings", says Lucy
Now, that is cool.
"My father was in a college social nudity club and that's where he met my mom.", says Carter.
"The way she tells the story, she went just to get more comfortable with her body, and found her husband.", says Lucy.
"Pretty much", says Carter.
I succeed with the turrets and get a companion cube.
I listened, and said. "Wait, do they speak? Are they alive?"
"It's a common fan theory", says Carter
"That room is a nightmare to navigate when you don't know it.", I say, in frustration.
"Even when you do", says Carter.
I forget my cube twice, but I am reminded, once by Mindy, once by Carter, to bring it.
Room 18 is a complete nightmare, but I am told I am almost done.
Sensing my panic after dying twice, Lucy, Carter AND Mindy guide me until I can wrap my head around it.
It's only when I am almost done with the chamber that I notice the dots. To do the platform with one 1 first, and then, with 2, up to 4.
But the ending, of my God! You need to ascend platforms.
And yet, I fall, but feel like I am almost there, so I refuse help.
While I work, Mindy grows bolder.
"How did your relationship start?"
"We aren't sure.", says Carter
"How can you not be sure?"
"Apparently", says Lucy. "We decided in first grade that we were dating. Apparently, it's common in kids, and we drifted in and out of it. I mean, we never stopped being friends but it's not like we can pinpoint a clear moment when we decided, this is it"
"Even by the time we first kissed, it was clear there was something between us for years.", says Carter
"Some people think it's because our parents always hung out with each other, but the reality is that we kept asking to be together, apparently. Like, they were friends, but friends in adulthood don't do everything together", says Lucy
I knew that, as my parents saw their friends once in a blue moon.
And finally, the final room, with a moving platform, a green ball of energy to juggle, but when, when I succeed, there is fire in front of me
"I have nowhere to go"
"Just portal out", says Carter, as I die.
"There is not white surface!", I say, frustrated
"It's red from the fire"
"ooh, ", so when I restart, I portal out... and I get in the maintenant areas.
I am almost standing up. I even get in a tube. It's incredible, the most fun part of the game so far.
It's a lot of exploration, and many tricky parts, but slowly I make it. Twice, I am told I am going backwards, which doesn't help since the computer keeps telling me I am going the wrong way.
The worst was the piston to portal out. That took me a moment, during which Mindy kept shifting in excitement, so she didn't even ask more questions.
"Wow, so many pistons. How will I even climb! Wait, I can portal up!"
"This game is genius", I say
"The second is even better", says Mindy
"It is, but it's much longer. It's funnier thought", adds Carter
"Stephen Merchant is brilliant in it", says Lucy
I have more turrets to kill, and then, get on a factory floor with heavy portal jumping to do.
But soon, there is rocket launcher, which kills me, but then, I use it to destroy 3 window panels, and later, when Carter clues me in, a tube for cubes
The music changes, and I feel like I'm getting near the end.
There are turrets in little doors in the giant room, but I slowly, one by one, get them, with some pointers from my three friends.
I jump up, and walk long corridors, where I find the computer, and with some hints, burn a ball that fell from her, but it starts a 6 minutes countdown, and I struggle too much, and fail to finish.
"I didn't succeed either the first time", says Mindy.
"The time limit is annoying"
"Want to try again?", Says Carter
"N'ah, do it", I tell him
And so, I see him finish it with minutes left! He is so efficient.
He knows exactly where to place each portal for maximum efficiency.
Once he beats her, the screen fades to white, and you find yourself outside.
"So we get out?" But then, we see a fly by, or fly in, of the facility... and the cake!
"No, she goes back into suspension for the second", says Mindy
"Can I see the speedun?", I ask Carter, who still has the remote
He starts to play, and so far, it's similar, but every move is optimized, quickly however, he makes skips, like room 3 where he shoots the ending from the portal, skipping the whole room, same for room 4.
Room 5 goes so fast that I can't even follow up.
And it's like that most of the run!
Of course, then, I had no idea what he was doing, but after trying to speedrun, I could appreciate it.
Mindy was thrilled, and held my arm a few times in excitement.
Lucy reminded Carter of a few parts, but he stayed silent.
In the middle of it, my parents come into the room, with Mindy's parents.
They talk about the weather, not loud enough to other Carter, but enough to prevent Mindy's interrogation of the teens.