Growing up, we had very little money. We didn't have fancy toys and brand new bikes. Most of our clothes were hand-me-downs from some stranger somewhere else in the city who'd bought the clothes new, wore them until they had holes, and sent them to the second-hand store. We were never those kids who would walk to the store with their friends to buy treats, or stop the dickee dee man when he heard him coming down our street with popsicles. It was the norm to not have money, it was what we were used to, and before you go feeling sorry for us, we actually had a pretty fun childhood, and were raised to be thankful, grateful people.
This one Christmas, my parents were feeling anxious, as I'm sure they did every year, about what on earth they could possibly afford to buy for us. They entered their name in a draw at the local video store to win a brand new Super Nintendo. And yes, you guessed it, they won! :)
That Christmas, was the most glorious Christmas in the whole wide world. We for the first time ever, had a super cool thing of our very own, that we didn't have to borrow from someone else, or send back because we couldn't afford it, it was ours, to keep.
My sister and I became obsessed with Super Mario World. We became obsessed with passing the entire game, finding all the secrets, getting the most lives, and generally, becoming Super Mario pro's, that no one could measure up to.
For me, along with this obsession for Mario, came an unhealthy outlook on life. I had become, an addict. Priorities were out of whack. Life stopped. Nothing mattered anymore, if it didn't involve passing a level, winning or playing. I started viewing Mario as a real person, who was my friend. I'd become angry with my friend if he chose to not jump quite high enough to reach the last coin, and fall down a hole and die. I'd also be elated, and thankful for his friendship when he decided to win the level, find that secret we'd been so desperately trying to find, or kill that last boss that took us 10 tries.
I would often get in trouble, for yelling at the tv screen or throwing the controller if Mario wasn't listening. My parents would ask me to go play outside, or for the love of God, do something, anything else. But on that spot on the carpet, I stayed. It was my home.
One night, when my dad was working the graveyard shift at Mac's, he said his goodbyes to me, as I sat on my claimed section of carpet, around 10 pm, only to find me in the exact same spot, the next morning at 8 am. He asked if I'd slept, I said no. In his tired state, he went off to bed, and I carried on, taking over the world one level at a time.
Then came the ever embarrassing day, that no one in my family has ever let me live down. Sitting in my claimed section of carpet, obsessed with one particular level that I'd tried to pass but failed, over a million times, I just knew, I was about to pass it, I could feel it. Around the same time of feeling uber confident in my skills, and knowing that my friendship with Mario was on good terms, was the same time that nature started calling me towards, the bathroom.
Now, I can't fully say what went through my mind. I was sick. I had a problem, a disease, I was an addict. I was almost done the level, I knew I could do it, I couldn't let anything stand in my way, I just couldn't. I couldn't let Mario down like that, after all he'd done, so, I went. My little claimed section of carpet, now became a big wet circle of shame. My parents obviously gave me all kinds of shit, and my sister obviously pointed and laughed until she was blue in the face, but it was worth it. I passed that level, and I felt better.
Years later, I still have an addictive personality. When I find a new favorite food, I eat it, until I overdose on it, and never want to see it again. When I buy a new favorite shirt, I wear it, like as if it's the only shirt I own. I wear it until there are stains and it gets discolored. I wear it until I can't stand to look at it, and hide in the back of my closet like a dirty secret. When I find a new song, I listen to it, until I know all the words like the back of my hand. I listen to it all day every day, until it's the most annoying song in the world, then I move it off my play list and pretend it never existed. And finally, when I got a Facebook account, my real world came to a crashing halt.
I've learned that getting angry at video game characters and peeing on the carpet is not socially acceptable. I've learned to keep a tight lid on my real thoughts when it comes to things I'm addicted to, in fear of being judged as a freak. I'm still an addict. I've learned to stick to more socially acceptable accictions such as smoking, shopping, eating, changing my hair, all as ways to get a fix for the addict inside me. I've gotten better at becoming a functioning member of society, where the world continues to spin, whether Mario is a part of it or not.
Now I bring myself to today's point.
My son has become a world renowned vidiot.
Vidiot: (vih-dee-it) video game + idiot. Noun. Origin: Nin
My son is obsessed with playing video games. He'd blow you away with his Donkey Kong skills, his Mario Kart ability, his hand-eye coordination with a mouse and a keyboard on a computer, his Playstation skills, his know-how for his sister's Nintendo DS, and recently, his passion for good old Super Nintendo.
Some days I wonder if I'm raising a monster. A carpet-peeing, control throwing addict. I wonder if I should just bite the bullet now, and cover my couch and carpet in plastic. I wonder if he'll grow up to be a weirdo, who's friends want to go bike riding and run through a sprinkler outside but can't seem to drag Daniel out of the house to play. I wonder these things, and wonder if maybe, just maybe, I should take away his video games, to at least give him a chance at a normal life.
But then, I remember how fun it was to become a Super Mario pro. I remember how amazing I felt when no one could beat me at Mario Kart. I remember that even though I was once that little girl who peed on the carpet, that I've grown up to be not such a bad person.
I also remember, that my son is a freak, who's obsessed with constantly moving, talking, yelling, singing, throwing, goofing off, bugging, touching, breaking, and generally being the busiest and craziest person I've ever met in my entire life.
And when I think about those things, I give him his Gameboy, I smile, and I thank God.