Ben Parrish Presents....

Infidel, reviewed by Robb Sherwin
By Ben Parrish


It was a day I sort of remember, but not quite, but it's common enough that I think I can tell you what I know, and you'll be able to fill in the blanks pretty well.  It was one of those "homestyle" Thanksgiving gatherings, like you might see on a TV commercial advertising a new brand of turkey or somesuch, pandering to those viewers not so captivated by the normal programming that they couldn't be persuaded to go out and stuff their gullet chock full of a nice moist Butterball.

Kind of a strange time, to be the age I was, because I knew I felt out of place at the "kids table", but still there I was, shifting the ass mightily on those damn plastic chairs (and what exactly kind of plastic is that, anyway?) trying to keep the other rats at the table quiet enough for me to at least put up a facade of not being totally miserable.

Anyway, Bobby, across the table, was playing with his mashed potatoes.  And I don't mean "playing" like running around the yard with a wiffleball bat and a sack of cooked spaghetti, I mean, he's playing it like a piano.  The boy was an artist with the reconstituted potato flakes, let me tell you. So then the big argument ensued :

   "Hey, you little freak, what the hell are you doing to those potatoes?"  
  "Quit shifting in your seat, you're gonna ruin it."
   "Ruin what, you little sack?"

Okay, the brat didn't actually use that word, but I was embellishing, based on what I knew he meant to say, or rather what he was THINKING, but hadn't yet developed the grey matter to elucidate upon it.

Fast-forward from the rapscallion and his spuds, to the release of Infocom's sub-masterpiece Infidel.  The day before it arrived in our mail, the whole family had gone out for a rollicking good time at the local (or as local as we could get) amusement park.  Another oddity.

Walking along the midway, we saw the rows of trite little stands selling their various overpriced puke-inducing swill.  The most popular stand, as might have been expected, was the candied apple stand (or "stall", for the Brits).  And what a concept that is!  Candied apples!  Two great tastes together at last?  Well, I couldn't quite accept that.

Candy: thoughts of dressing up for Halloween.  A bowl of lollipops from the dentist after a successful checkup.  Freaking out your friends with Pop Rocks and having a rollicking good laugh afterwards.  Apple: health, maturity, that damn skin stuck in your teeth for three hours, and those frickin' tree-hugging hippies.  Even conceding the fact that there are those out there who actually LIKE apples, it seems odd to then mix these two very different ENEMIES of taste like that.  Candy is great.  Apples, while not great, are at least pure.  Candy apples ruin them both.  Needless to say, I left the park in tears.

After several weeks of playing Infidel, I happened upon an anthill while walking down the street to visit some friends at the local convenience store (hey, it was a difficult time in my life, and I'm none to proud of it, so I'll thank YOU not to stare!)  The anthill was large, but obviously had undergone some "renovation", as part of a large sneaker-print could be seen on one side, disrupting any hope the ants might have had of keeping their home remotely symmetrical.  It seems silly now, of course, but I looked at that sneaker-print for hours, and it made me very sad. All I could think of was death, destruction, the futility of our existence on this planet, the false God of love, taunting us with its open treasures and hidden traps, and all the crap we all have to go through every day, until finally release comes in the form of a hideous, torturous, slow, agonizing death at the hands of whatever disease happens to be all the rage at the time.  I felt bad for the ants, and I feel bad for us.  Ah, bollocks to that.

Years later, I ruminated for quite a while on that special time in my life. Not the happiest of times, to be sure, but I will always remember it.  And in the cold, desolate wasteland that is our shared human condition, maybe our memories are the best we have.

I give Infidel a 7 out of 10.

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