Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How I Saved a Real Princess—A Nintendo Story

When I was a kid, I made some mad money by selling personalized stationery door-to-door in my various neighborhoods. At age 8, I used some of the sales proceeds to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System. I played Super Mario Bros. until I could save the princess every time, almost with my eyes closed.

I bought a few other games, too—Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a couple of others. But Mario was where it was at.

At first, my mom barely tolerated having the Nintendo in the house. She said it was rotting my brain. But I wanted her to understand why I liked it so much, so I coaxed her and coaxed her to try playing Mario until she gave in and tried it.

To my delight, my mom actually enjoyed playing Mario. I was amused and pleased that she had finally come around to seeing things my way. We even played it together sometimes. It was fun at first.

A few weeks into her newfound interest, I noticed my mom would sometimes play Mario for hours. Sometimes I would try to get her attention, and she would get angry at the interruption. Other times, she could barely even hear me. There was Mario on the screen, doing his little back-and-forth dance, jumping on a Goomba, hitting a flag pole—and there was my mom staring at it.

My mom was disappearing. The princess needed saving. By observing her, I realized how pathetic I must have looked to her before she herself got sucked into the game. How vacant. It became clear what I had to do.

So at age 10 or so, I took it upon myself to sell that whole piece of shit—Nintendo, games and all—to a video game shop, and I never looked back. I got my mom back, I got myself back, and I had an actual childhood.

Today, I'm grateful for actual memories. Memories that smell like a rotten knothole holding up part of my fort in the woods, that grease my skin like baseball sweat at dusk, that take my breath away like the time I landed on my back while doing a double flip off a swing set.

I'm writing this in front of a computer screen. Hmm.


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