There was a very small period of time – when I first started dating Lynnette – during which Paul, Matty, Lynnette, and I were basically kids hanging out together. Paul was still at Damien, Matty was in his second year at Portland, and Lynnette and I were back on Oahu for good. We wore matching team shoes. We weren’t sponsored by Diesel, but still. I made the joke that we were “all on the same teammates” for the sake of comedy. The other three same teammates immediately called me an idiot or worse. What, you might ask, did our team(mates) do? So glad you asked. We tried to beat video games together.
This is kind of strange as none of us were really heavy into video games, though Matty comes the closest. In retrospect, I can’t even tell you why we picked these games or why all four of us thought it would be a good time to sit in my parents’ living room and mash buttons. I can only tell you that they were good times.
We played Super Mario World with the aim of total completion. I don’t think we ever got there. The thing I remember most is a particular level on Chocolate Island where the outcome within the level was determined by time. You had to get through the pipe at the end of the sequence in a certain amount of time in order to pass into the area where the big Yoshi coin was. It took the three of us a while to figure this out. I kept shouting “THE OUTCOME IS DIFFERENT, YOU GUYS!” before I understood what influenced these variations. Matty in his way, just muttered “Stupid…” Paul, because he is the most acerbic of us shouted back, “OK. WE GET IT.” Lynnette mostly just shook her head, perhaps regretting her choice to engage in a romantic relationship with me. In fact, the reason I’m writing this post is “THE OUTCOME IS DIFFERENT, YOU GUYS!” flashed across my brain two nights ago. I started screaming at Lynnette who offered no reaction. “Don’t you remember?” I asked. “Of course I remember,” she said. She shook her head, likely for the same reason all those years ago, but guess what? I PUT A RING ON IT.
Lynnette and I got pretty caught up in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I think we somehow read it together – as in simultaneously from the same copy. There was a passage which was inverted in print and required reading in a mirror to be understood. Lynnette and I rushed into the bathroom together to decipher it. Paul thought we were running into the bathroom to look at our reflections. “Oh my God!” he said. We explained and I was kind of hurt that he would think me so vain. Lynnette I understand, but me? C’mon, Paul. But anyway, we rented a copy of the video game from Blockbuster and beat it. I did the dirty work of moving through the game, Lynnette and Paul were the brains which solved the puzzles, and Matty was the guy who beat the buttons in the correct sequence in order to win the game’s physical altercations. It was a true team effort that highlighted our individual strengths. Obviously, I am a grunt, Paul and Lynnette both have two degrees, and Matty didn’t have to worry about reading because the button commands were color-coded with single letters.
The most fun we had, though, came in the four-player mode of Ultimate Marvel Alliance. It was a pure button-mash game that required virtually no skill and very little coordination, so even Lynnette and Paul could play. I remember being irritated by Paul and Lynnette because Matty and I would try to move ahead in the level but both of them were lagging behind. It wasn’t quite as bad as when I would drag ass with Matty in Contra (causing him to jump, then fall into an abyss. That was hilarious.), but still. I also distinctly remember Lynnette using Thor. The character would shout “By the power of Odin!” which Lynnette mistook for “By the power of Odum.” I corrected her multiple times, but by then she was saying it incorrectly just to mess with me. Screwed up, I agree, but it was an appropriate response to “THE OUTCOME IS DIFFERENT, YOU GUYS!” over and over.
Reminding myself of this time period sent me off on a binge of wistful nostalgia. Paul is a lawyer and has moved into his own place in town. Matty and Tanya are very close to becoming first-time parents. Lynnette and I will be doubly-bombarded with more responsibility sometime this fall. With all of these real-life obstacles to surmount, maybe finding time to overcome video game obstacles is the greatest of all. I can’t even imagine how it might happen, but I can tell you it would be a good time.