Tony Tonyson and the Teenagers

I’m playing The Sims again, and it’s not like I remembered

Megan Bidmead
Silly Thoughts

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Behold: the dying breaths of a fragile relationship

You know those people who say ‘You have to really invest money in something if you want it to last?’ Yeah, I don’t like those people. After years of buying super-cheap everything (boots, glasses, clothes, cookware) because that was all we could afford, it grates slightly when someone suggests that, in fact, you could save money in the long run by buying better quality.

But they’re right. At least some of the time. And so, we found ourselves ‘investing’ (ugh) in a decent laptop. One that is not going to die after two years. We put it on the Argos card, spread over twelve reasonable payments (by which, realistically, I mean six slightly more urgent and panic-stricken payments). We justified the expense via my job, for which I could really use a computer that doesn’t do this every five minutes:

Oh get lost with your sad face. (Also sorry about the messy wardrobe. It was a failed Marie Kondo experiment.)

But, also, a very small, miniscule, infinitesimal part of me was quite excited to buy a laptop that can actually run games. So while I waxed lyrical about having a better version of Word to write on and how I can have twenty-five tabs open at once without it slowing down, I was patiently waiting for a decent amount of time to pass to casually buy some games as though that wasn’t my plan the whole time.

So I bought The Sims 4.

The Sims has moved on quite drastically since I last played it sometime in the early noughties. So it’s taken me a few practice runs to figure out what I’m doing. Finally, I sat down to create a new family. Only they’d be friends. Friends that live together! Roomies! I’d give them an impossibly lovely home in a prime location that they could somehow magically afford, and then watch them interact with each other. Just like Friends.

Only I accidentally made one of them a young adult and the other three of them teenagers.

Ah.

Day One

I’ve totally screwed up the dynamics here. Instead of having four interesting young adults managing the world of work, I’ve got one unlikely carer of three helpless teens. Tony Tonyson is extremely introverted. I pictured him locked away in his room writing all day long (yes, I gave him a job as a freelance writer. Think of that what you will). Instead, Tony has to run around the house trying to get away from everyone. They follow him around like little baby chicks.

Tonight, he went to bed, utterly exhausted, only to have them all congregate in his room doing their homework. One of them sat on the end of his bed while he slept.

This is not going to go the way I planned.

Day Two

Getting to know my sims and their various personalities. Peter Orangebottom is a sporty outdoorsman with a reduced awareness of personal hygiene. Joanie Polpo is a sensitive arty type who has already written a children’s book, thus making her more successful than her supposed carer. Linda Sausage is sociable and likes to cook.

(I might have a problem with naming people.)

It’s enjoyably stressful managing all these people. Yesterday, it was total chaos. Linda tried to grill some hot dogs (fittingly) but accidentally set the barbeque on fire, and was freaked out by this for the rest of the day. After that, I vowed to make Tony learn how to cook. He promptly set fire to a frying pan whilst making grilled cheese sandwiches.

I don’t know what kind of screwed up adoption agency placed these kids with Tony Tonyson. Presumably the same adoption agency that the McAllisters used in Home Alone.

Day Three

We’re actually getting into a routine. Whoever is up first in the morning cooks breakfast — no fires since the first day, and they’re all gradually levelling up their cooking skills. Tony stays in bed until the teenagers have gone, thus avoiding human contact, which makes his introverted heart happy. He then cleans up their mess (seems realistic) before sitting down to do his freelance work. He spends a happy few hours pottering around, trolling teh forumz (can’t tell you how much I hated typing that), posting on his ‘Simstagram’, and playing Blic Bloc. Then he cooks the teens dinner while they do their homework together.

This might actually work!

Day Four

Crap. I’ve just realised Tony Tonyson is a romantic, and he’s desperate to flirt with someone. Anyone! The only problem is, the romantic part of him is really happy when he flirts, but the introverted side becomes desperately unhappy. Any social interactions involve the two sides of him clashing violently and usually leave him feeling confused, flirtatious, and exhausted.

I invited a woman round to see Tony. He met her at the gym (he took the teens on an outing there the other day, much to Peter’s joy). They seemed to get on quite well, and he needed someone on which to test out his new skill (‘Recite Love Poetry’). She walked through the door, stormed upstairs, and sat on one of the beds. When I sent Tony over to say hello, she started shouting at him about crabs. It ended in a passionate row of which I could understand nothing (something about explosions). I got Tony to use the toilet and then ask her to leave.

Day Five

Tony just had his first book published! Success. Linda Sausage had a terrible day at school involving some kind of ritual humiliation on the bus. Peter Orangebottom has gone to catch frogs, taking a cloud of stink with him. Joanie Polpo has let a strange woman into the house for some reason.

A bit later, Linda went outside to find Peter and they had a little chat. They even took a quick selfie together and had a hug. Think they could potentially end up together in later life. Although thinking about it they’re kind of foster siblings, so that’s completely wrong.

Day Six

Sent Tony Tonyson to the library to pick up women. (I know, it’s disgusting). He immediately met a very cute librarian. Slyly clicked ‘ask if she’s single’. Result! She is.

Tony has strong opinions about the police. Actually, he has strong opinions about most things.

Can’t get enough of watching Tony’s face as he both enjoys flirting and desperately wants to be alone. At one point, a small child approaches the librarian and waits patiently to ask a question. After several minutes, he gives up and wanders off. Soon, she might be out of a job, at which point I might as well take her in too.

Tony Tonyson and The Librarian are officially in a relationship by the end of the day. Tony both loves and hates this, and when he gets home, he lets out his feelings by kicking over the outside bin.

(I make him pick it up, which he does, I imagine begrudgingly.)

Day Seven

Dramatic day in my Sims household. Tony gets a phone call from The Librarian (whose actual name I can’t remember). ‘Wanna go on a date?’

Unfortunately, Tony decided to ditch the teenagers just before he was about to cook them dinner. When he returns (with The Librarian in tow), Peter and Linda both smell and are starving, and Joanie is attempting to cook for everyone.

It obviously ends in fire.

Everyone points to the stove and dances around in horror. The flames spread to the next kitchen unit, and the next, and the next. I have lost control, and can’t click on anything or do anything useful. In a moment of pure heroism, The Librarian leaps into the kitchen in a blur of floral print, whips out a fire extinguisher from inside her cardigan, and puts out the flames.

That’s one way to get in with the family.

Everybody is in a bad mood about the fire. The Librarian curls up on the sofa to go to sleep, while Tony goes to bed (charming). Joanie stares listlessly at the TV while Peter, still ignoring his stinkiness despite other Sims visibly gagging when he comes near, decides to go for a run on the treadmill.

Cannot persuade Linda to go inside for anything. She is standing on the pavement, gesticulating wildly and jabbering. Would love to get her to go inside, shower, and sleep, but she won’t. Wonder if this will be the state of poor Linda, and perhaps everyone else will leave school, and get careers, and get married, and have babies, and grow old, while Linda just stands there on the street, ranting.

Day Eight

Tony is bored with life, it seems. He’s chatting away to Peter when up pops the option of ‘start preposterous rumour’. Of course, I make him do it. Peter’s eyes look as though they might pop out of his head. Tony rubs his hands together in sadistic glee.

Decide to buy the Seasons expansion pack to shake things up a bit. (Well played, EA: I can see myself spending a fortune over the next few months.) I buy a weather machine, which is excellent.

(Notice that Joanie’s mood is ‘very tense’, which is exactly how I feel when I take my kids to the park.)

Joanie creates a thunderstorm of such epic proportions that my Sims are jumping out of their skin every five minutes. Decide to send Tony outside to try and fix it, at which point he is hit by lightning. For the next few days, he wanders around the house with a dazed expression and his clothes and skin are scorched.

I think I’m going to like this expansion pack.

Day Nine

Seasons introduces holidays for the sims, and it’s Harvest Fest! Apparently. I buy a group of gnomes and put them in the garden, because that it what the game told me to do. Suddenly the gnomes are in the kitchen.

I try clicking on the gnome in the business suit, and several options appear, including ‘Appease Gnome’. I try to appease him by giving him a pie, and he zaps my Sim with lightning. Decide to avoid them for the rest of the day, but they keep creepily appearing around the house. One of them is dressed as death.

At one in the morning, they congregate threateningly around Peter’s bed while he sleeps. I was genuinely concerned that they might kill him, but they vanished at 2am, leaving a few puddles of water, several broken appliances, and some packets of seeds behind them.

Day Ten

The Sims is slowly taking over my life.

‘You working tonight?’ Chris asks, as I boot up the laptop.

‘No. Just checking on my sims.’

‘You know they don’t exist when you don’t play the game, right? It’s not like they carry on without you.’

Day Eleven

It’s Linda’s birthday! If someone makes her a cake, and she blows out the candles, she officially ‘ages up’ and becomes a young adult.

Feeling quite sorry for Tony. I make him buy Linda a present, and in my mind, he rolls his eyes and tuts about the expense, but secretly wants her to love it. I buy her a mid-priced camera, and Tony presents it to her. She doesn’t like it. Tony walks away, clearly crushed.

Gutted.

Day Twelve

It’s Joanie and Peter’s birthday today. I plan to bake one cake and get them both to blow out the candles (because who wants to go to the effort of making two cakes?). I get Tony to invite The Librarian around, although their relationship has cooled slightly. Maybe because Tony is a total idiot who can’t be bothered to text or call and forces her to sleep on the sofa.

The Sims is a bit like real life(not the ‘can’t be bothered to bake’ thing, although, thinking about it, I’ve given up baking my children’s cakes and now buy them instead, so maybe I’ve got something against birthday cakes in general). One minute your children are babies (or, you know, teenagers) and the next minute they’re blowing out the candles on their eighteenth birthday cake and leaving their childhood behind. It’s enough to make you cry. (Not Tony, though. After his experience wasting money on an expensive camera for Linda, he gave both Peter and Joanie some flower seeds each, leftover from the gnome fiasco. They’re inexplicably delighted.)

The moment Joanie blows out the candles — marking the end of the teenage years altogether — it snows for the first time. All my sims drop what they’re doing to run outside and point at the snow. It’s quietly magical, and I find myself feeling all nostalgic and emotional.

Perhaps I need to take a break from The Sims at this point.

Or you know. Maybe I need to buy more expansion packs.

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