When we last visited Aileen and Shu, they were both on a quest for self-discovery, and ended up discovering other people along the way.
In fact, this mother-son duo plays a certain game-within-a-game so often, we named it: the Sleepover Standoff. The rules are simple. Sim families can only have one additional partner stay overnight at a time. Should there, hypothetically, be two Sims with extrafamilial romantic interests, it can come down to the wire on whomever asks first, or whose date interrupts the conversation for a pleasant jog around the neighborhood. Thankfully, this implementation only has two players.
Player One: beautiful, successful, invigorated Aileen—she of sound body, mind, and spirit—is recovering spectacularly, thankyouverymuch. She has reinvented herself thrice over; everything that does not serve her is gone, and everything remaining is an act of self-love. She can even have a civil conversation with Bernard. Sometimes, in the few moments between running between the office and the gym, thoughts surface like no one ever loved you or you’re going to die alone, but once Aileen’s brain gets something to focus on—poof! Gone. If she gets enough juicy endorphins during the day, she can quiet them long enough to pass out. Even so, it’s better than not sleeping at all.
In addition, while Aileen’s working pec minor, receiving critical acclaim for her Middle Earth romance novel series, giving TED Talks on how to be a motivational speaker, and experiencing samadhi, there’s something she’s not doing.
Watching Shu. (Player Two.)
In all fairness, Shu is a model kid. He comes home, does his homework right away, cooks, cleans, practices instruments, and goes to bed. There’s no harm in leaving himself to fend for himself for a couple hours while Aileen goes to the gym, or works on her next novel. It’s a bit worrying that he has a girlfriend—
—who wasn’t there a second ago. Chantel just materialized next to Shu, and, judging by the look in her eyes, he’s on the Popcorn setting and should be done in 1 minute 39 seconds.
Fine; you get your date.
Aileen takes the opportunity to chaperone. Nothing inappropriate can happen when Mom’s around!
Maybe it’s cute he has a little girlfriend already. What does Aileen have to worry about? They’re young and inexperienced. They’re probably going to send each other kiss emojis, or share a milkshake at the sock hop. It’s not like—
Let’s review the story so far. Three days, two dates, and Chantel decides “yep, he’s the one.” This is a crap idea for non-simulated humans. Chantel, though, she’s a Sim, and thus subject to Aileen’s Theorem.
Theorem 1 (Aileen’s Theorem): Let T be a town; there are no good men in T. (Proof outline: Take your best girlfriends to brunch and order a lot of mimosas.)
From Chantel’s perspective, Shu’s looking like a counterexample. She lives in a world where unlimited fame and fortune hang mere inches from the ground, ready to be plucked by anyone with an iota of motivation, but most people prefer to watch their opportunities fall and rot. Place yourself, a teenage girl, in this world, and suppose you run into a cute boy who dares follow this linear path to success. He is closer than anyone you have ever met to achieving the dreams everyone has, but that no one bothers to pursue. He has done more as a young teenager than most Sims will before they’re taken by the Reaper. He has the answer. He is the answer. What do you do? Lock him down. Immediately.
In short, he may turn out to be a polyamorous disaster, but she saw him first.
During the course of a normal day, Aileen usually exercises and works on a book, Shu goes to school, and one or both of them do something else. Today’s something else is Xiyuan suddenly remembering he has shared custody and Shu enthusing about trains over cards with his recently-resurrected new stepfather.
Shu uses these visits to make sure his dads are properly sanitizing the bathroom cabinet handles and doorknobs. Also, all the crevices on the mirror are so fun to polish!
We can at least clear up one mystery about Xiyuan and Bernard, which is why they have a second bedroom in their apartment. It’s Shu’s room.
The painters wandered the house while Shu slept, demonstrating the stark contrast between the painstakingly crafted actions dictated by a type-A supernerd creator who considers time management a hobby and the “does anyone know how to adulting lol” impulses of the AI. In case anyone reading this still demonizes Bernard and/or makes fan content implying he abused Mimsy or killed her on purpose, here he is eating cereal-O’s:
Luckily for these disasters, Shu fixed the sink and cooked them a proper breakfast before he left for school.
The bubble blower is an odd object. If someone uses the bubble blower, all Sims in a 10-foot radius drop everything to denounce them for using it, even if they are using it themselves at the exact same moment. Shu knows public shaming goes best with a snack. That, or he’s very curious about blowing bubbles himself.
Charlie is also at this outing, because it’s Shu’s job to get Charlie out of the house. Shannon is here for obvious reasons. Aileen wasn’t invited, but she came anyway because this outing could turn into a date—and she definitely needs to be there for that.
Only one thing to do!
Ultimately, this turned out to be a friendly outing, and nothing interesting happened besides basketballs refusing to obey the laws of matter. Shu took Chantel out the next day on a pool date.
He doesn’t typically go to the pool, and the autonomous demographic choices might help explain why. Today we have one normal guy, one kid, one alien, two teenagers, and five old ladies with the same haircut.
Chantel at least got the attention she deserved.
After she finally left, Shu took the opportunity to fix something that was bothering him.
Meanwhile, Aileen’s mind-grapes are working full throttle on the Bestselling Author aspiration. Working on the Bestselling Author aspiration looks like this:
At least she doesn’t have a blog. There’s something uniquely dystopian about watching a Sim playing a computer game or blog while you, yourself, are gathering content for your own Sims blog. If my escapist fantasy were watching someone use a computer for 8 hours, I would have secret cameras in my office and bedroom.
The sharp Xiyuan-mincing edges of Aileen’s writing had dulled. Rather than grinding the axe, her essays focused on the little joys of life (look at how shiny this handcrafted axe is!), about living in the moment, about the benefits of stopping to just BREATHE. She led by example, waking up each day to a perfect balance of exercise, creative work, socialization, outdoor time, macronutrients, and gratitude for the universe.
Balance. What is balance? If you want to balance on your right leg, you first become aware of the right foot, distributing your body weight evenly along the heel, ball, arch, and outer foot. You then connect the muscles in your foot to your center of gravity, activating a line of connective tissue that travels through the calf, knee, quadricep, hamstring, to the muscles of the low back, the spine, the core. You then allow your left toes to lift off the ground, shifting the small muscles in your right foot to counteract small perturbations in your stance, never drawing awareness away from the connection between the right side of the body and the ground. Balancing is rewarding, invigorating, one of the best ways to hone mental focus—and the best part is, anyone can learn it.
Except if they’re missing a right leg.
What if someone were missing a right leg, and no one noticed? What if everyone around them were acutely aware of their failure to balance, and kept feeding them platitudes based on inapplicable experience? (“Just balance, it’s easy, watch!”) What if they saw other people who were crashing slowly start to get better, until their posture was indistinguishable from the naturals, while they continued to fall every time? What if, despite their best efforts, they were still missing something fundamental, something everyone assumed they already had? What if they had deeply internalized the idea that anyone can learn to balance, so it became a part of themselves, and became convinced that their failure to learn was, in fact, their fault?
So how do we tell who can learn to balance and who can’t?
If there’s one thing we do know, it’s that people who spend decades practicing balance can claim expertise. Legless or not.
What’s that lil’ rascal up to?
Shannon has the second-most chemistry with Shu. Her traits are Vegetarian and Hot-Headed: not ideal, but the Vegetarian one gives her frequent gas, which is at least accurate. Hot-Headed is a fantastic trait for one of your girlfriends to have if you’re planning on dating several people at once.
Whatever! Teenagerhood isn’t the time for measured sexual decisions.
Shu politely asked Shannon if she wanted to mess around, which she responded to by grabbing him and fucking slamming him against the closet with a tremendous thud. So, uh, enthusiastic consent, check! The door closes, the half-ton coat house is ripped from its wall reinforcements as it shakes uncontrollably, and, at one point, enough force is applied to leave a Shu-shaped dent in the wooden doors. Ten minutes of hearts and fireworks (so many fireworks!) was little reassurance after 50 minutes of Shu being flung around like a ragdoll. Which suggests, oh god, Hot-Headed people are his type.
This will end well.
In what is possibly the dirtiest, most explicit thing I have seen in a Sims game, Shu left the closet and immediately washed his hands.
We’re going to visit Shannon at her house, because she, uh, she seems fun.
I don’t understand the Bheeda household. It’s a premade playable household claiming “Jesminder and Arun Bheeda have a baby on the way… something something wacky hijinks that can ensue as a result.” So if they knew they were having a baby why do they have only one fucking bed
A red relationship-minus-minus sign appeared over Shu’s head while he was sleeping. It might have been from Shannon’s dad, who seems to not like Shu for some reason.
Shu eventually returns home to his first love. Homework never really left his to-do list, it just took a backseat to several people.
Elsa was the first girl Shu tried to flirt with, and he just… didn’t. He stared off into space for O(10) minutes before walking two steps away and cancelling the interaction.
Seven Charisma points, two girlfriends, the Great Kisser reward trait, and two surprisingly violent hookups later, he is barely recognizable as the same person and puts the moves on her right away.
Derrick’s also here. Know what that means? It’s time for the inaugural…
Aileen and Derrick take the early lead, or they would if the Sleepover Standoff were an actual race, which it isn’t.
Aileen has the advantage of being able to ground Shu, which—oh wait, nope.
Derrick is showing his true colors. We know he never misses leg day, because that’s what he does instead of talking to Aileen. When he remembers his girlfriend exists, crossfit funfacts surge endlessly from the protein-shake-hole on his smug punchable face. He traded in his sexy uniform for size XXS Bikram yoga shorts and a backwards hat from the 90’s.
I’m so sorry, Aileen.
Maybe Shu actually does have the answer. By this point, Aileen is out of everyone’s league. She can’t get what she wants without doing some juggling of her own.
Props to Elsa, though. Shu got up early to make her pancakes, and her reaction was “why would I want pancakes when there’s a perfectly good lava cake right here?” So Shu ate his pancakes while Elsa had chocolate cake for breakfast. She’s a genius.
This installment ends at the biannual meeting of community instrumentalist club Mr. Liu’s Play Big and Jam (PB&J). Shu was invited to take the last available slot (BECAUSE NEPOTISM) and starting a club gathering will stop everyone from whining, so here we are.
While Shu engages with an actual line of adult women waiting to talk to him (are there any police in this town? Hello? Hello?), Aileen has a coincidental stroke of luck.
It’s Matt Stevenson! Matt (Romantic, Bookworm, … something), created by emmajayne72, is another soul who moved to town long ago to counteract the effects of Aileen’s Theorem. Aileen went on one date with him, but he was kind of salty, so she gave up and moved to Derrick.
Maybe Aileen’s “soulmate” hinges on an appreciation of variety, an assorted set of men whose strengths and weaknesses balance each other out in a beautiful rainbow of diversity.
Or maybe she’s hopping around on one leg.
Next: Aileen and Shu rack up the partner count until everyone is uncomfortable.