Hi, I’m Bill, and I like to fly pretend airplanes.

So I’m at a party recently with my beloved other half. While I buzz the hors d’oevre table, she’s happily chatting up our friends, bringing them up to date on our latest hijinks and generally being her effusive and sociable self. She tells them that my freelance business is starting to take off. They seem impressed. I nod sagely and try to discreetly shovel in another shrimp puff when nobody is looking. Then it happens. A friend politely asks, “what is it that you do, anyway, Bill?” My blood runs cold. I hear a jackhammer pounding in my ears. I have to change the subject, but how? As I formulate a pithy comment on the weather, my dear wife breaks in. “He designs scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator,” she says proudly.

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a non-flightsimmer, then you know how the rest goes. The eyes of my audience glaze over as I try to give a polite but quick overview of what it means to create detailed 3D airports and environments for use within a computer simulation of aircraft flight. The response is either a dazed stare or a look of such abject pity that I want to crawl under the table. My favorite is a combination of both.

So consider this a form of therapy. I am now crawling out from my hiding place, kicking aside the cheese ball and climbing atop the table. My name is Bill, and I like to fly pretend airplanes. And not only that, I design scenery for this little planet in a pocket we call Microsoft Flight Simulator. There, that feels better.

Are there any pretzels left?

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