The following letter was sent to the Editors of Canada's Globe and Mail, who in their wisdom have not yet seen fit to publish it ... but you may find it amusing!

Dear Sirs:

I regret to advise that after many years of faithful readership, I am entertaining serious thoughts of abandoning our relationship. No doubt you are alarmed at this sudden development and because you have given me so much, I do feel that I owe you an explanation. Besides, my confession may be the first step to recovery; it might empower me to take back my life rather than following the path of the fallen woman.

Although computer literate, I am somewhat of a novice in cyberspace. A DOS devotee for years, I have only recently decided to do WINDOWS and to overcome my aversion to fondling a mouse. But I drew the line at computer games. Never, I vowed, would I succumb to the cyber sirens.

A few weeks ago, I did find myself wandering into a software boutique. It was easy to avert my gaze from the seductive packaging of the plethora of bells, whistles and games. But, out of curiosity and a certainty that they would only improve my skills - in anticipation of real life encounters - I did purchase Bridge and Scrabble.

Computer Bridge and Scrabble provide safe, respectable, auto-intellectual stimulation. In the unlikely event that I became addicted, there was no risk of coming into contact with a carrier of the virtual reality virus. They may have GUI, but they are not gooey games.

I do have an open and enquiring mind - and a fax/modem. So to assure myself that I wasn't missing anything, I have opened the doors to the on-line games at my local BBS. I even downloaded a few of the "shareware" game files. But, I only looked, I did not play.

Why would I want to play? Why would anyone want to play? I could not fathom this attraction to hard-core simulated violence. My immunity remained intact.

What a difference a day makes. Jim Carlton's article (Cyberpuzzle, May 28) did arouse my curiosity. If Tetris is good enough for Hillary Clinton, I should at least take a look to see what all the fuss is about. Perhaps I could determine the secret ingredient and, for an appropriate compensation, offer to provide the formula to Nintendo - or the highest bidder.

Even though I am a grown woman, I am somewhat atypical in that I have no craving for order. Those who have worked with me will testify to my need to have an untidy desk. This, combined with my previously tested immunity, would surely prevent me from sliding down the slippery slope into Tetrabuse.

In my customary, calmly, curious manner I logged on to my favourite BBS, for a frolic in the files. A brief keyword search told me that Tetris was there for the taking. To download or not to download, that was the question. It would take less than a minute. What harm could there be? I could always delete it from my hard drive as I have dispensed with its predecessors. Just wash that game right out of my hair, and send it on its way.

Then I logged off, fed the cat, folded the laundry and poured myself a glass of wine. Hmm, what am I in the mood for tonight? A game of Scrabble ... perhaps a few hands of Bridge? Or dare I tempt fate and try Tetris? Try it, I told myself confidently, you probably won't like it.

I threw caution to the winds and abandoned myself to the momentary thrill of unzipping the file. Is that all there is? It looks like every other game file to me - not that I've seen so many, you understand. How could this be an instrument of endless pleasure?

Nothing captivating about this. Oh, the colours are pretty enough, I suppose. But it's nothing more than an instant jig-saw puzzle. To its credit, though, it doesn't take as long as a jig-saw puzzle, and there are no on-screen explosions nor any evidence of virtual violence. But there must be more to it. I'll play a few more rounds.

While my fingers do the walking, my mind will compose a letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail castigating those who chose to publish Carlton's alarmist (sexist?) hype. I'll fax it off to them tonight and maybe they'll even print it on Monday. Of course, it would be a first, they've never published any of my previous missives (with the exception of a few of my submissions to the Globe Challenge).

Ah, I think I've got the hang of it now. I'm at Level 5 and I'm scoring over 1000. But it is getting late, I really should go now. Well, maybe just a few more rounds, just a few minutes more. Ohhhh, that was niiiice ... almost like bidding and making a Grand Slam or playing a seven-letter word in Scrabble.

So why didn't I tell you sooner? It's obvious - I'm Tetrified. I didn't have time because I was too busy considering (between rounds) what I could reasonably sacrifice in order to support my Tetraholic habit. Something will have to go so that I can make time in my life for Tetris. I think you do bear some responsibility here. If you hadn't published the article, I wouldn't have read it; so, if I do decide to leave you, it's really your fault.

I'll fax this to you after I've had my fix.

Yours unfaithfully,

Hilary Ostrov

P.S. If you do decide to publish this, could you withhold my name? I wouldn't want my friends to know that I've become a fallen woman!

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Revised October 19, 1997
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