Monday, September 17, 2012
It was Christmas 1989 when I received one of the coolest gifts an 11-year-old could have gotten that year: a Nintendo Entertainment System.
That’s right; we’re talking the original Super Mario Bros. video game with the Duck Hunt bonus, complete with a gun that was ready to take out some clay discs and a gaggle of waterfowl.
In a word? Awesome.
I was a typical girly-girl growing up in that I loved my Barbies, but at that age, nothing held my attention more than my Nintendo. I played it non-stop, much to my parents’ displeasure, since we only had one TV and I was now monopolizing it with my obsessive game playing.
Once I (soon) conquered the original Super Mario Bros. and it no longer presented a challenge to me, I made the natural transition to Super Mario Bros. 2 and eventually 3 – all within a two-year-span.
My personal gaming claim to fame came one dreary Saturday in the fall of 1991 when I sat in front of the television and played Super Mario Bros. 2 ALL DAY LONG, only pausing to eat and occasionally use the washroom. (Go play outside, you suggest? What 13-year-old should be doing that? Ahem.)
On that lonely Saturday, not only did I complete the entire game, but I did it without warping ahead (i.e., I intentionally played every single level without skipping any), and I didn’t die even once. Seriously. My avatar was the Princess, and she and I totally kicked some Birdo butt.
I remember being elated but also going to bed that night with the worst headache. When I closed my eyes, I could still hear the game’s theme music and see the different levels progressing in my mind. It became very clear that both my health and my sanity were at stake, so I opted to take a break after that and momentarily walk away from my video game addiction.
Luckily, this wasn’t difficult for me to do, given that I was getting older and having to work harder to maintain my grades in school -- which, of course, meant giving up whatever free time I once had after classes let out.
Fast forward past high school, university, marriage, and becoming a mother, and you’ll see that I never did fully regain that free time I once enjoyed at the end of the day. But then a few weeks ago, my husband and my 18-year-old nephew (who’s been living with us for over a year since he moved here from Florida) decided to set up my beloved Nintendo once again. (Yes, I’m a borderline hoarder, and I still have my original Nintendo and all its games.)
Twenty-three years later, and it still works wonderfully.
So. Totally. Awesome.
My husband and I began playing this past Friday night after we put our daughter to bed, and we quickly lost track of time, going to bed ourselves long after midnight. (Given that my usual bedtime is ideally around 10pm, this was practically an all-nighter for me.)
It was so much fun to be engaged in Mario’s exploits again that we continued playing on both Saturday and Sunday nights as well. Everything was going smoothly until we heard our daughter cry out from her room Sunday night.
“I want Mommy. I need to go pee.”
Conscious of the fact that she is a master at stall tactics and will say anything, ANYTHING to get us to come up to her room at night, we were sure this was a ploy on our daughter’s part. But could we take the chance that this was a bluff and just let it go?
No, we could not. Our daughter is newly potty trained, and to ignore her request to use the potty would be an absolute parenting fail.
So my husband dutifully went upstairs to tend to her needs while I, naturally, continued playing video games.
Ten minutes later I heard a very excited, “Hi, Mom!” from my daughter and a less than enthused, “She did NOT have to pee,” from my husband as they both walked down the stairs toward me.
Okay, so it was now 11pm, and our daughter was up. Should we stop what we were doing and instead read to our daughter or somehow coerce her back into a deep sleep? Ummm, no, that’s what GOOD parents would do! Instead we opted to keep playing on the Nintendo while she toddled around and half-heartedly played with her own toys.
(See above regarding ABSOLUTE PARENTING FAIL.)
About 30 minutes later, my daughter finally turned to me and said, “Mom, I need to go to sleep,” as she began making her way back to the stairs.
Our video-game trance was broken long enough that both my husband and I finally got off the couch and lovingly escorted our super-awesome daughter back to bed. We figured she deserved at least that.
(But then we giddily proceeded back downstairs and continued our Nintendo game where we left off. SCORE!)
Moments later, my nephew returned home from his night out and proceeded to go straight to bed himself, given that he had to work early the next morning.
(Dang, the KIDS knew their limits and were trying to get some sleep that night, whereas we – the supposed adults – would have happily stayed up all night with Mario and Luigi.)
“What’s wrong with us?” I finally asked aloud. “We’re 34 years old! What are we doing?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry in advance that tomorrow is totally going to suck for us at work,” my husband replied.
And, yet, we continued on, deciding to pack it in more than an hour later. (Okay, that’s a lie. The truth is we ran out of lives and had no choice but to turn off the Nintendo.)
As we tidied up downstairs, my husband commented that we should bring our video console with us on the Caribbean cruise we’re taking this weekend.
“Think about it – we have three At Sea days. What better way to spend those days than playing Super Mario Bros. in our suite......?!”
On that note, if we end up returning from our vacation in paradise still looking pasty and white, then you know what happened.
Curse you, Mario Bros.! Curse you for being so delightfully addictive!