THE BLOG
07/25/2008 11:44 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Stop Me Before I Play Again

Hi, my name is Ken and I'm a Free Cell addict.

For years I blamed my assistant. She was the one who introduced me to the game. But over time I've come to realize I have to take responsibility for my own actions. I still should have fired her sorry ass but that's not the point.

I'm the addict. I'm the one who can't turn on his computer without playing just one game. And as you all know, one turns into two, which turns into ten, then twenty, and before you know it you're out in the street living in a Maytag box.

Oh, it started off so innocently. "What's that?" I asked my assistant Luciferita. "It's Free Cell," she said casually, drawing the helpless moth to the flame. "It's kind of like a Solitaire game. You like Solitaire, don't you?" I admitted that on certain social occasions I had imbibed in a game of computer Solitaire or two. "Well, this is better," she said. "Let me show you how it works."

I should have known better. That's the same thing someone said to me about Tetris. By the time that was through I was eating Hamburger Helper right out of the package.

At first I had a little trouble getting the hang of Free Cell. Little did I know that that degree of difficulty, that "challenge" was what made the game so insidiously addictive. Anyone could win METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS, but Free Cell -- the triumph over that game produced such a greater high, a euphoria that few have ever known.

But that high is somewhat transitory. It's usually gone in one second, two if you've trained yourself to really savor it. So you must have more. That window pops onto your screen. "Would you like to play another game?"

In the background you can hear your kids say, "Daddy, come out here. The lunar-eclipse is about to begin. It's the last one earth will see until 3052." "Be right there, guys!" I call out. But that little window beckons. "Would you like to play another game? Would you? WOULD YOU??! Sweat beads form on your forehead. You try to resist. You're almost up from the chair when...

"Aw hell, one more game."

And now I can't stop. Emails pile up. I haven't checked my Nigerian bank account for months.

And eventually it's not just winning the game. You need more kicks! How many in a row can you win? How fast you can win? How few moves do you need to win? How long can you go without peeing?

Obviously, I need help. I can't control this on my own. I just found out today that Hillary's no longer in the race. So hopefully, with all of your support I can rid myself of this destructive habit and return to the light. I have a sponsor assigned to me. I just got an email from him introducing himself. For the first time in months I'm starting to feel there is a way out. One quick game and I'm going to write him back.

You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com.