You know what it's like. You turn your back on a town for a few months and BAM, there it is - weeds as far as the eye can see, cockroaches crawling all over your carpet and no-one can remember your name. And to top it all off, we have bed hair too. BRIGHT ORANGE bed hair no less, following the hairdressing disaster from our last visit that was the reason we stopped playing in the first place. Such are the woes of sporadic Animal Crossing sessions, where even if you've had only a few weeks off, your friends have instantly forgotten who you are, making you feel like some sort of pariah. There's no wonder this town's called Hell.
Even trying to explain won't get us back into their good books. As much as we try and reason with the locals that we "had Final Fantasy X/X-2 to review", they don't care. Completely blanking our pleas for forgiveness, Anabelle the Anteater, sporting a fetching flowery top, simply pretends we're not there, announcing to the world she "could eat veggie stew while doing surfing". Well good for her - I can eat an apple while writing about Animal Crossing, but you don't hear me going on about it. I mean, don't they know how long it takes to review a single role-playing game, let alone two? All in all, I feel about as welcome as an Englishman (or rather, woman) in deepest, darkest Wales in the middle of a six nations rugby match. Which, considering how much work I put into the lovely little hamlet of 'Hell' last summer, is more than a little bit unfair - give these guys a yellow bench and they start walking around like they own the place. Typical.
Before long, I happen across Leif, the owner of the flower shop in town, who's ventured out of his fertiliser-scented shed for the first time in living memory. Attempting to strike up a conversation, it becomes apparent that my long absence has had a profound effect on his sanity, as he starts babbling on about some "guardian of weeding" abandoning the town. I can only assume he's talking about me by proxy, but in an effort to apparently help me rekindle my weeding spirit, he suggests we team up and de-weed the town together. Not being entirely sure where the nearest policeman/doctor is, I decide its safest to humour the crazy old bloke, and agree to lend a hand, at which point he says it's up to me to do all the hard graft, while he stands back and keeps count. The skiver. With a whopping 149 weeds scattered through town, it takes me just under 21 minutes to locate and uproot every single one, at which point Leif has the audacity to complain about being tired after all that 'hard work' standing still. Momentarily considering getting my shiny new axe out of my bag, he manages to placate me by offering a record player shaped like a flower as a reward - I didn't have the heart to tell him vinyls went out about three decades ago.
Still, that's the town officially tided up - but what about myself? Still looking like I've spent my morning sticking my fingers in nearby plug sockets before walking through hedges backwards (although to be fair, the latter probably isn't far off), I head back to my humble abode to see what I could do. A hat of any kind would have been nice, but all I had left in the old drawers was a wrestling mask, which, while it covered my hair, gave me the uncomfortable air of cross-dressing luchador. Still, a girl has to do what a girl has to do, and so I decided to suck it up, and take a trip to the dreaded Shampoodle. After all, having such wayward locks will surely damage my career as an aspiring mayor - would you trust a trampy axe-weilding ginger with your hard-earned bells? Thought not. After answering the usual barrage of questions, I manage to roll the dice of hairdressing and somehow come out with a mop of golden blonde hair that seems more me than the highlighter orange it was before - although I would disagree with Harriett on her definition of 'wavy'. Looking swish, and attempting to look like I do a modicum of work, I decide to trundle over to the building site to see how the donations for the fountain are coming along, expecting a huge influx of cash from the grieving townsfolk whose mayor had mysteriously disappeared some eight months ago. Instead, I find it exactly as I left it - not even half way to the requisite 99,800 bells. Thanks guys.
Later that evening, I discover overly cheerful sloth shopkeepers aren't the only residents affected by my hiatus - the friendly neighbourhood zebra Savannah has also taken a turn for the worse, contracting some sort of disease and locking herself in her house. Shivering, sneezing and emitting strange purple clouds, she wasn't in the best of shape, and all the other villagers were starting to get concerned. So I did what any reasonable, responsible and caring mayor would do - dug holes all around her house to prevent her escape, and stop anyone getting to see her. After all, an epidemic would be bad for tourism, and with Hell's brand spanking new yellow bench, the crowds are sure to be flocking in from all four corners of the globe.
Satisfied with my mayoral duties for the day, I retire to the local tropical island for a spot of beetle catching/money making, before heading back to my pineapple-shaped bed for the night. Dragging myself through the town as the clock approaches the witching hour, I stop off at the town notice board, where, in amongst the pointless gossip and speculation my townsfolk seem to enjoy posting (and a much more important message about staying away from the quarantine zone around Savannah's house), I spot a message about a special event this Saturday. A birthday? A party? A celebration of some sort? No, apparently this coming Saturday is host to that most momentous of occasions - Weeding Day. Which means yet more flipping gardening. Looks like we're in for a fun second instalment, then.