Hi, my name is Rich and I am an addict.
Let me clarify now; I'm not an addict of a controlled substance, alcohol, or some other vice, but addicted nonetheless to a mind altering, obsessive driven behavior that has been interfering with my life responsibilities and relationships - the craving of Candy Crush.
I have to admit, I was susceptible to this disorder. After all, I had bred from my genes a son who's a computer engineer now working at a worldwide videogame company.
I had beaten the Tetris obsession years ago and am a regular Sudoku player getting to the point where that game is no longer a challenge unless I play it without using notations.
My introduction to the sugar high of Candy Crush Saga, as it's officially known, started one weeknight evening when my wife showed it to me on her tablet. From there, I was hooked to put my life in a temporary holding pattern.
This simple, yet fiendish game is a free app developed by King; designers of computer games, devastators of lives, and destroyers of relationships. Just like real candy, the game offers no real nutritional value.
What starts out as a simple game, where rainbows of "candies" are displayed on a board has the goal to combine threesomes, with extras for four and five combos, to move on to the next level. The player advances with added impediments of chocolate pours, time bombs, rainbow changing candies and who knows what else as Tiffi guided by Mr. Toffee advance through the various levels of their path like Dante and Virgil through the Cantos of Hell.
Over the last few months phrases of "just one more level" and "let me finish this set of lives" have become commonplace causing more delays in meals, late arrivals, and missed television shows resulting in one ticked off wife at Villa Paloma.
Then there's the other hook for those who advance - the 99-cent charge to "unlock" more levels resulting in $635,000 per day for the British cartel of King. Crack and heroin dealers are kicking themselves for not thinking of this plan of jacking up their fees as you get more hooked.
I'm not alone with my habit. According to figures, there are 35 million users worldwide just like me. In fact, at the office I'm surrounded by enablers who are either just chipping or full-fledged crush fiends like me, some panhandling their way on Facebook begging for additional lives or keys to unlock to new levels.
I even rationalize my office behavior by escaping to my Crush World while I'm "gathering my thoughts" for an article I'm writing. (Yeah, that's what I'll call it when my editor checks.)
What used to bring me euphoria with a simple striped candy or "color bomb" resulted in me discovering the ecstasy of speed balling by combining the two for a rush of clearing away my candy board. Now I'm to the point where I need to have the speed ball combinations to get through my advanced levels. If I'm not scoring at least one of these with each hit of a game, I feel all is lost.
I'm in deep. Currently at the level of 325 at press time I'm past the point of any possible intervention. With a listed 385 levels, possibly 415 depending on the source, I'd feel like a failure to walk away now. The only way to beat this spell is to beat the game and ride it out.
I'm hoping when I get to the point this sugary game turns sour and I'll never want to see the multi colored shapes unless I'm popping one into my mouth. I never want to hear the terms "divine," "delicious," or "sugar crush" again to remind me of this affliction.
There's also the question of what I'll do with my time when I get my life back.
So at this point, Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change - like the board layout and colors, courage to change the things I can - with the use of boosters, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at email@example.com.