“I really like your earrings,” my passenger slurred from the backseat.
It was Sunday evening and I wanted to pick up a few more Uber passengers before shutting the app down for the day.
“No, seriously, they’re really good on you.”
“Where you from?”
Through the rear-view mirror I could see his wife turn to him, motioning him to knock it off with the questions. A Rolling Stones tune came on the radio.
“Maria likes the Stones. She can come up with us… yesss,” the husband said, louder than Mick could howl ‘Emotional Rescue’. The traffic light turned from yellow to a painful red. I leaned forward in my seat, hoping it would just as quickly turn green. Their hotel was only two blocks away, but traffic was almost at a standstill on Canal Street.
The wife giggled. And here I’d been hoping she’d be on my side, maybe even get her man to shut up for the rest of the ride to the hotel.
“You don’t mind this right? We’re just being friendly,” she said.
My heart sank.
Traffic moved again. Their hotel was a block away. One long block. I pulled the car over.
“Your hotel is up there. It looks like your husband is about to throw up and I don’t want to clean his puke from my car. I hope you understand.”
She smiled at me and reached into her purse, pulling out three dollar bills. They smelled of vodka and cigarettes.
Three bucks. Insignificant on their own, but maybe enough to pay the electric bills if I can piece together enough Uber rides.
Three bucks. The same amount I almost paid, by mistake, for a virtual miniskirt in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.
I thought about those hard-earned three dollars. The traffic jams in the French Quarter created by drunk tourists swarming the streets. How it took a couple of days to rid my car of the smell of sweat, vodka and cigarettes. I thought about the 14 hours of sleep I had the night after I left the couple at the curb, how necessary they had been for me to feel human again.
My hard-earned three dollars had almost added another—albeit thin—layer of padding to Kim Kardashian’s already fucking enormous bank account.
A couple months prior, I had watched a 30-year-old man play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood from a bar stool. That’s when I knew I had to write something about it.
The object of the game is to boost your avatar’s popularity until you make it to the ‘A-list’ with Kim. First, you’re urged to pick out a “fresh new look.” With a few taps of the screen, your style is set and you’re on your way to stardom.
The screen flashes.
“Go to Hollywood. Speak to manager about photo shoot.”
My avatar goes to Hollywood. The screen flashes again, points build up.
“You have a photo shoot. Pick out a great outfit.”
Points fly across the screen as you slowly build your credibility, climbing through the celebrity ranks. The only way to lose is to stop playing. It was the perfect game to play between Uber rides.
Like scrolling through Instagram, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood delivers immediate mental gratification.
Except, of course, when it delays that gratification. That’s when it offers you the chance to pay in order to climb the celebrity ladder in a more timely fashion. Just three bucks to earn more validation from Kim and her buddies by purchasing a ‘hotter’ outfit. Hell, I was nearing the C-list at this point!
I almost fell into that black hole. Almost threw away that three-dollar tip on a scrap of virtual fabric and some fictional self-esteem.
As I pressed cancel on my virtual order I thought about Kim, her fat bank account, the fact that there was a point in time when the world only knew her as the chick who got peed on by Brandy’s brother.
Kim Kardashian lasted a week on my phone. Android seemed to despise her as much as I do, my phone warning me repeatedly that the app was taking up too much space.
Just like Kim’s ass in a skirt.