I’ve been playing 80 Days obsessively this past week. On the bus, in line at Walgreens, in the elevator…I begin a new journey as soon as I finish the previous one.
I want to crack the code that is Phileas Fogg, goddammit.
I paid only distant attention to him before, taking more interest in the man dressed as Death in New Orleans, or the determined Mongolian engineer on the train in Russia, than in my master’s better welfare. I kept him alive, of course, but I cared little for his constant sniffs of disdain, or his eyebrows lowered at me over the top of his newspaper as I returned from some back-alley watering hole smelling of spices and mystery. He just seemed like an aristocratic wet blanket. And, okay, he is that, but…
Once I, Passepartout, woke to find him (admittedly, unnervingly) staring at me whilst having sleepwalked to my room on a boat somewhere in the Indian Ocean. That was creepy, sure, but more charming was his discomfiture at my offer for him to stay, if he were so rattled, and I would put on a light and he could read or something. Your relations deteriorate slightly at that, but his discomfiture was news to me.
Another time–and this is new content, so if you haven’t played much since their big update, STOP READING–he spoke with sudden and utterly out-of-character joy of his grandfather the explorer. “You admired him?” Passepartout suggests, and Fogg corrects you: “I wanted to be him.” He used to enact his grandfather’s tales of derring-do as a child, and that was what made him so uncharacteristically excited to head to the North Pole. Desires! Fervency! From Fogg!
And of course there was that lovely moment at the bottom of the ocean when everyone expects to asphyxiate, stuck at the bottom of a trench as you are, in a submersible, with neither food nor water left. He can be quite sociable in near-death situations. Okay, so that was more camaraderie than romance, but at least it’s indicative of him having a heart in there somewhere, under the layers of cravat and waistcoating.
First I tried being a superior valet, never complaining and always tending to him, but that appeared not to work–he became annoyed with my constant chipper attitude (aren’t I familiar with that, sigh…I’m looking at you, workplace) and treated me solely as the provider of tea and starched shirts. Lately I’ve had more luck with risking the occasional heartfelt aside like “This is rather an inhospitable place, isn’t it?” which prompted a shared look and fervent (fervency again!) agreement from the usually opaque Fogg.
I am determined.
I would not be surprised if you cannot get closer than these occasional brief moments of intimacy, since the divide between master and servant and the social mess embroiled there is one of the points of the game. But I can hope. And I can deliberately avoid looking up a yea or a nay. Damn you, Fogg, I will figure you out. People are the only puzzles that interest me and I will find something other than distant regard behind those eyes!