I remember when my father brought home our first NES game system. How excited I was. I remember holding that controller in my hand and listening to the electronic introduction music. I saw my character in position, pushed the ‘GO’ button and… all the lights went out and smoke poured out the back of the console. Yep, I blew a fuse.
Something you may or may not want to know about Mr. Ohh! that I think is important, and a bit strange. You see games, all games, especially electronic ones, and I don’t get along. I am probably the only person who could lose an air-hockey game and not even have a challenger. I was going to play a five-year-old and thought my chances were pretty good, but after I put in the quarters his mom called him back. I didn’t want to waist the money so I batted the puck around by myself. The open unguarded goal and the side walls beat me six to one. Enough said about that.
The reason I’m telling you all this is my sons both play video games competitively, and they want me to play. I can’t. The thing is, as their dad I’m supposed to join in with their stupid crap, and teach them good sportsmanship. Right? No not right! It’s a load of BS. I tried to nurture my brood into good citizens and I failed. What more do they want from me? I was planning to sit back in my easy chair, wait a few years, and try again with the grandchildren. Hey I can accept my mistakes.
Then the unthinkable happened. Because of their abilities, my sons were invited to a national video game competition. As their father I wanted to teach them self-reliance and told them to go find a ride, and went back to my nap. Then my wife got involved. You see, this event was in Columbus, Ohio, and someone was going to have to take them there. What could I do? I believe in democracy and I was out voted four to one. Even my daughter, my princess, voted against me. She later told me she didn’t really want to vote that way, but if it’s a choice between being nice to me and getting rid of her brothers for a weekend, well I found out where I stand. Thus, began my weekend pilgrimage to nerd-ville.
Now, I have always thought I was close to my children and we had good lines of communication open. But not for this little jaunt. We got in the car and barely pulled out of the drive before my sons started speaking in tongues. I understood not one word. Well there was one word. Every so often the word “Chips” entered the conversation and I knew this was my cue to pull over and buy more snacks. A long time ago a wise man said, “No man can be lonely who is surrounded by his children.” Well that’s a load of crap. With them laughing and blathering in their strange video game language, I wasn’t part of this trip at all.
Thankfully, we made it to the hotel and I needed a rest. But no, we had to find the convention center, in a strange city, in the middle of rush hour, while the driver, me, was dog-tired, so they could check in. They couldn’t do it in the morning, because all of their on-line friends would be checking in tonight. So, I got my butt back in the car, drove for another half hour and got them to the place. That’s when it got weird.
You see the people who come to these things like small stuffed animals. More accurately, they’re crazy mad in love with them. They wear them on their heads and shoulders. They cuddle and kiss them, and the worst thing is they dress up like them. I was suddenly accosted by hundreds of human-sized furry monsters. The ones that weren’t dressed as monsters had odd colored hair and large numbers of tattoos and piercings. I normally consider myself pretty open-minded but three minutes in this place and I was suddenly more conservative than our president, polishing his gun and reading Breitbart news.
Then my sons checked in. This took exactly ten minutes, but I was stuck at the den of weirdness for over four hours. They had to meet all their best friends which they have never met before. Yep all the on-line people they have played against over the years had to be connected with. The thing is no one knew any one’s names. Imagine the trouble trying to find, Fire Dude 451 when absolutely nobody was on fire. Not a soul was even smoldering. How he got his name I have no idea. when we found him, he was wearing a blue shirt and had brown hair. He did however understand the strange language my sons spoke, so at least that’s something.
The next day was game day. Fifteen hours of electronic warfare broken only by the speed with which you could beat your opponent. As a parent I had a few very important jobs which were never told to me. First, I was to be moral support. My sons came to me after every match with stories of victory and defeat. I never played the game! But I was supposed to understand everything told me and offer guidance on strategies for the next match. How was I supposed to do that? Fortunately, BS runs high in my family so I was able to nod effectively and create enough smoke and mirrors to bamboozle my progeny. I wasn’t proud of it, but it was working so I let it go.
My second job was much more difficult. Apparently, I was supposed to provide sustenance for the day, in the form of sugary drinks, salty snacks and chocolate. I was unprepared. Did you know a soda from a machine at the Convention center is three dollars? That’s just crazy. I wasn’t going to pay it, until I was ganged up on by both my sons with their weepy eyes. I guess you could say I caved. You could also say I went in full dad mode, melted into a puddle, and gave up my next three months mortgages. I didn’t however sell their sister for snacks so let’s just stick with caved, thank you very much.
All this being said the biggest part of the weekend was boredom. Of course, I had forgotten a book, or anything else to keep my mind occupied, so I sat. I sat for approximately an hour, was rushed for snacks and support, I said a few words, then the boys left for the next match. I was left to sit again, amongst the cups, candy wrappers, torn chip bags, and shattered dreams of what might have been a wonderful weekend.
I tried to call my wife several times. Sadly, she and my daughter were out shopping and eating out. She informed me, since I was bonding with the boys, she was getting some mom-time with the girl.
Frankly, I never realized Bonding consisted of sitting by one’s self, bored to the point of insanity. I mean, Who Knew?