Somewhere in the backwoods of California, in a cabin with 5 cats and little contact with the outside world. Locked away with nothing but a PC, a guitar, and an near limitless supply of spam. A small yet courageous man works day and night in order to make sense of humanity's greatest secrets. Using his abilities as a skilled video games player, amateur musician, and wannabe film connoisseur, he manages to keep himself busy with his work of saving the world through his studies of Heavy Metal, Silly Pop Culture, and Raccoons.
I was young when it happened to me, maybe 4 or 5, I can't remember exactly when. Some of the images are fuzzy now, but there are still things that time will never erase. I've learned to live with the memories, but I've yet to forgive those involved in scarring my mind and forever changing my life, and probably never will.
I guess the full story goes back to before I was born. My parents fell in love quickly and did not take long to marry. They were an incredibly happy couple until one day, My dad introduced my mom to a "friend" of his. He told my mom that he was in the plumbing business and how much fun he was. My mom was very much intrigued with his friend and they quickly hit it off.
Mom hung out with similar friends before. She remembered her old friend Harry who unfortunately died in the jungle after falling into a tar pit, and that one girl with the Pink Bow on her head that popped pills and said she kept seeing ghosts. But of course this new friend was different. No one quite like him had the charm and experience that anyone else had at the time. He was a well known and established figure by then, but was still humble about where he came from.
Mom, Dad, and the plumber were always getting together to have a good time til eventually, I came along. Once I was born, my parents priorities straightened out which meant less time with the plumber. It wasn't long after that Dad started to lose interest in the plumber altogether, which only made Moms relationship with the plumber grow and before they knew it, she was spending almost all her time with the plumber.
Of course my dad grew jealous and he attempted to find new friends to sway her attention. There were plenty of great contenders, like his elf-like friend who liked to wear green, or his masculine hairy friend with the red tie and faux-hawk. And while mom did find mileage in these newer friends, none of them quite lived up to the same standards that the plumber had placed.
Unfortunately, while she was always happy to spend time with the plumber, she did not quite have the patience and they never actually made it all the way. She continued to spend time with the plumber on and off through the years til one fateful evening.
My parents did good to try and keep their friends secret from me, fearing who knows what kind of influence they would have on me. Knowing their own behavior and feeling towards their friends, they decided to wait til a more appropriate age to introduce me. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep it secret enough.
I remember going to bed early and laying there tossing and turning trying to fall asleep. I'm not sure what kept me up but perhaps it was fate that I happened to not fall asleep that night. As I stared into faint darkness, I suddenly heard noises from downstairs in the living room. At first I could not make out what it was, til then I realized it was my mom. I could not hear what she was yelling, only that it sounded strangely frustrated yet joyful at the same time. I creaked open my door and tip toed to the top of the stairs where I could finally make out my mom's words.
"Dammit Mario, Jump you fucker!". Mario? Who was Mario and why was my mom angrily yelling at him to jump? "
Get out of the way you Bitch! Ah Fuck!". At that point, I had seen my mom yell at people, but not with this level of ferocity
"Yes Finally, Almost There". Almost where? Of course my youthful innocence couldn't picture the risque scenarios that could've been taking place.
At this point I could no longer just listen and had to see for myself what could possibly be happening. Slowly crawling down the stairs, I crept through the kitchen into the living room. Skulking behind the couch as to not be seen, I peered around the corner.
And that's when I saw him...
He almost looked like someone out of my dreams. The Mustachioed man in Blue Suspender Pants, (Which I happened to have several pairs of at the time.) and the big M on his Hat. It was nothing like I've ever seen. He ran back and forth across the screen, jumping to and fro. As he kept running towards the right, a turtle walking upon hind legs appeared, to which he jumped on his head, grabbed his shell, and threw it across the screen.
It was unlike anything I had ever seen, the world was colorful and beautiful, and the music was catchy and amazing. I had never seen Pixel Art before and was immediately drawn to the style. No cartoons or movies or in fact anything at that point were remotely close to what I was witnessing.
Then I remembered what brought me there and looked at my mom. She was unaware of my presence and completely enamored in what she was doing. I then noticed in her hands was some strange thing with buttons that had a long cable connected to it. As she kept pressing buttons I kept looking at the screen and finally put it together that she was in fact controlling Mario's actions. I was in shock and awe at what I saw. Interactive TV? Being able to control what's on the screen? The very Idea was almost too much to handle.
Still cussing to herself, she was completely focused on the screen almost immersing herself in the game. When Mario would run right, she would start leaning right and every time Mario jumped, she would jerk the controller upwards as if she was having an effect on the game. Finally, Mario shot across the screen and through the goal at which my mom jumped from her seat in a heat of excitement. She had been playing for years at that point was finally near the end of the game.
As she settled back down, I finally decided to come out of hiding so I could inquire about what I had witnessed. I stood and walked around to the front of the couch, startling my mom and causing her to jump. I inquired about what I had just seen, and knowing that I wouldn't let up til I got an answer, she explained to me how she met Mario and that she was going to eventually introduce me. Of course I was still in awe of what I saw and didn't care about why she didn't tell me about him.
Finally she sat me down next to her and let me try it. She started me on the first level and taught me the controls. I was frustrated at first taking me several tries just to beat the first level, but once I got the hang of it, then it was over, I was hooked. Of course I wouldn't give back or put down the controller and after my mom left for bed finally, Mario and I stayed up nearly all night. Before she left though, she turned to me and told me "Just don't let your dad know".
The next day, I spent nearly all day with Mario, pretty much only getting up to eat and use the bathroom. By the end of the day, I had managed about half way through the game. My mom who was impressed decided to let me help her on her save file. By the third day, me and my mom were taking turns trying to beat the game. When we finally got to and beat Bowser. My mom hugged me with both a sense of relief on her part and a sense of pride on mine. I'm proud to say the first game I ever beat was Super Mario World with my Mom.
My mom introduced me to all her other games after that. I quickly likened up to them all and many of which I still enjoy to this day. The next year my dad got me a computer which opened me up to a whole other world of games, but I still continued to play my SNES. My mom has since moved on and while I still occasionally get her to play as well, she now finds joy by herself playing solitaire and browser games.
Would I enjoy games as much as I do now had I been introduced to them differently? Who knows. My parents, though they don't really play them any more, are still both fascinated by video games so It's likely inevitable that I would've learned to love them eventually.
Of course though, I'll never forget that my mom was the one that started it all. Her and that filthy plumber.