Memoirs

I Was A Teenage Videogamer.

The Summer of 2011:

I sit in the basement of our home at 8 o’clock in the morning–perhaps even later–and stare at the screen as I play a game on my X-Box 360. Mind you, I used to think this was the best present I had ever received on Christmas morning.

The game might be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or it could be Lego Star Wars. I fluctuated between those two quite a bit during that summer–and the summers following.

I care less what the game is, so long as I am playing the game and fulfilling myself.

Upstairs, on the kitchen counter, is a list of chores scrawled in blue pen. Mine range from scooping dog crap to finishing my laundry. My sibling’s chores–around the same categories. Simple chores, really; each of them, and more, can be accomplished in two hours or less.

But I am a sixth grader whose sole purpose is to shoot down baddies and collect Gold Bricks. A little known fact: when you enter into middle school, your brain goes into total shutdown. All of you can think of, all the time, is yourself and the things that make you happy; self-centrism I blame on hormones.

The chores…the chores are not finished that day.

The Summer of 2013:

I sit in the basement of our home at 10 o’ clock in the morning and stare at the screen as I  play a game on my Playstation 3. Now, I can’t quite remember if my siblings were playing with me; however, they were probably screaming at each other in cooperative computer games.

Beside me is a bag of Doritos from which I scoop a handful and stuff in my mouth. These chips are not a snack. Oh no, these chips are my lunch. My breakfast was a slim bowl of Frosted Flakes. My actual snack consists of two large Oatmeal Cream Pies that I unwrap as fast I can so I can return to shocking idiots in Infamous, or was it Infamous 2?

Upstairs, on the kitchen counter, is a list of chores scrawled in red pen. Mine range from cleaning my disgusting bathroom–as of late, I have moved into the basement bedroom–to wiping a wet rag across the baseboards of the whole house. My sibling’s chores–around the same categories, with the exception of my sister now having to finish her laundry. Simple chores, really; each of them, and more, can be accomplished in two and a half hours or less.

But I am an eighth grader whose sole purpose it is to zap electricity at baddies and gain new superpowers.

The chores…the chores are almost finished that day; yes, almost meaning thirty minutes before our parents come home from work.

The Summer of 2014:

I sit in the basement of our home at 9 o’ clock in the morning, and I turn off my Playstation 3. From there, I head to my bedroom and lace up a pair of Asics sneakers–without so much as a healthy breakfast, I leave the house and run three and a half miles.

I return at 9:40 in the morning, breathing hard; and yet still I stretch and drink copious amounts of water. My siblings are in the office and are staring at their computer screens as they team up with one another in a game of Roblox.

On the kitchen counter is a list of chores scrawled in red pen. Mine range from completing several loads of laundry to doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. My sibling’s chores–around the same categories, with the exception of my brother now having to finish his laundry. Simple chores, really; each of them, and more, can be accomplished in three hours or less.

And I am a freshman whose sole purpose is to ensure the list is checked off.

The chores…the chores are finished that day, and only because I nag at my brother and sister to get off their butts and start cleaning.

The Summer of 2016:

I sit in the basement of our house at 4:30 in the morning and write the next chapter in my first novel, This Sudden Apocalypse. The rest of the house is still fast asleep–it is a wonder I can be so awake without so much as a cup of coffee.

At 7:30, upstairs, on the kitchen counter, there is a list of chores scrawled in red pen.

I don’t even have to look. I know what needs to be done.

Simple chores, really; each of them can be accomplished in an hour and a half or less.

And I am a junior whose sole purpose it is to ensure the list is checked off before I have to attend Cross Country practice at the high school.

The chores…all the chores are finished that day.

The Summer of 2017:

I stand outside the office of our house at 7:30 in the evening and watch my brother fight his way through a couple matches of Mortal Kombat X; and, all the while, I am encouraging him to get that punch, or kick him there.

Then, while scrolling past other games, he sighs, puts down his controller, and says, “Actually, I think I have some important things to do right now.” And he turns off the Playstation 4 and leaves the office, the controller still warm on the desk.

I have graduated school, and he is an eighth grader.

I pat him on the back and say, “Look at you, Mr. Responsible…”

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Memories From A Strawberry Shortcake Roll

Forgive me, Dear Readers, if this post is the teeniest bit unusual. As I am writing tonight, I am working under a haze of heavy doses of Benadryl and a bunch of other weirdo drugs–just your average trip to the Emergency Room. So, knowing that, let us proceed with the post:

I was at Wal-Mart the other day with my mother; in fact, I believe it was yesterday–who can know with this scrabbled mind? We were getting food and more food…and more food, and we had made it to the checkout aisle when this little girl came into the aisle with us.

At first I thought she was lost, since she had that mystified glaze over her eyes, the type of look kids give you when they’re pondering some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. She would stick her thumb in her mouth, glance over the various impulse purchases beside us, then take out the thumb and do that little “kid stretch,” where they bend slightly backwards until it looks like they’re about to fall over; however, they always stand right side up again within a moment, a new curiosity about them. Did anyone see me, they think. Am I the focal point of attention yet?

Her mother came into the aisle a minute later, a stressed look over her face. It was the kind of face you see on a mother who is quite obviously fed up with their kid’s crazy antics. It’s like if in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we got to see the parents’ reactions to Ferris’s antics–let me tell ya, they’d be wide-mouthed gapes and the slightest irritated wrinkles beneath the eyes.

I smiled at the little girl, who was giving me the who-the-hell-is-this-stranger look; and then, while the mother was herself perusing the impulse shelves, I glanced at their cart.

Then I saw it. The box of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls.

Images of the clamshell hat wearing Strawberry Shortcake from that cartoon back in the late 90’s filled my thoughts. That show was the bane of me, as well as a pleasant memory of a time revisited–but it wasn’t just the show that came out of nowhere.

In the early 2000’s, our family lived on Maelstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. Nice area. Friendly neighbors. Happy times. I was a young kid who had no idea of what life or the world meant, so, in simple terms, inexperienced and more innocent than I am now.

What I remembered then, in that Wal-Mart aisle, were trips to the Commissary–a military-only form of Wal-Mart–with my mom and my sister. We’d go on any old day in this sweet minivan to go buy groceries and–can you guess?–boxes of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls.

Back then, I think Little Debbie was printing the picture of 90’s Strawberry Shortcake ; so, when we saw those boxes, we always thought of the cartoon and pleaded to our mom to buy them for us.

See, it wasn’t the taste of them that made us so eager. Trust me, as an eighteen year old who has eaten his fair share of healthy foods, Little Debbie is not always your best friend; rather, it can lead to a shitload of indigestion and a sour feeling on your tongue. We wanted the Shortcake Rolls because they reminded us of a happy time.

I admit to watching Strawberry Shortcake prance around with her little desert-named friends–and this weird dog thing that wasn’t quite a dog. There were days when my sister and I would just binge-watch the only episodes we had for hours at a time; and we loved the stuff, couldn’t get enough of it.

I knew some of the lines. She knew most of the lines.

I liked this episode. She liked that episode.

It was a varied experience for both of us, but it was enjoyable.

There in Wal-Mart, I was taking a pleasant journey down Memory Lane, and it wasn’t just the Commissary or Strawberry Shortcake, it was–Blockbuster and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures and a brand-new game of Operation, or Chutes and Ladders.

It was being a child and having the whole world at your fingertips to mold, to build, to destroy–all of it at your whim; that, or how many tears you could muster out of your chest when you didn’t get whatever you wanted.

Let me tell you about Blockbuster, this pre-Netflix Shangri La of movies and imagination–at least, for a kid. It had movies, movies everywhere, specifically, movies I didn’t think existed.

One time I can remember strolling through the aisles on a nice Friday night, feeling like I was King of the World, and I came across a movie called A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well, of course, I looked at the back of the case, and I saw some terrifying images for a child at the age of seven. A man with a razor glove. That same razor glove rising out of a bathtub, between a girl’s legs for that matter–mind you, around then, I was enrolled in this strange Christian pre-school, where we watched Bible Veggie Tales and ate chicken tortillas all day.

I didn’t even ask my parents about Elm Street, just threw it back on the shelf and hurried back to the Disney films. Unfortunately, about a month later, when I was home alone and flipping channels on the box television in the basement, I came to a channel playing the beginning of A Nightmare on Elm Street TV show; think it’s called Freddie’s Nightmares.

I, uh–well, I saw a man, maybe good ol’ Freddie himself, getting burned alive and screaming.

Then I threw my hands up over my eyes and tried frantically to forget what I had just seen.

Ah, they were good times, though, despite how I might phrase them here.

Seeing that little girl and her personal box of Strawberry Shortcake Rolls brought out  a lot of nostalgia, and I have loved every second of reliving those many, many moments.

So, Little Girl in the Wal-Mart Aisle, if you ever read this, take pleasure in those Strawberry Shortcake Rolls and just remember that life can go faster than you think.

It has for me.

Think daily,

A Southpaw