I sit here.
Waiting to see Eli. Brady. Waiting on the news coverage to get back to meltdowns or occupations or those fluff stories we saw before ’08 or especially before that September in ’01. Waiting for the talk we’ll share at pubs, here in the Commonwealth, as we speculate on what will happen next Sunday and then break down what did happen for the remaining weeks of winter.
Waiting on snow, I sit here. Staring at my color television, I sit here. Thankful for a few brief moments to myself, I sit here. As I sit, I’m hit by a memory of one game a generation ago.
We’d lobbied for months.
A Nintendo. That’s what we wanted. We were young. Idle. Hyperactive. Daring. Dashing. Brilliant and bored and searching for other worlds.
And late to the game. Every other kid had one. We didn’t. They were one hundred dollars. To a kid, that might as well be ten dollars or a thousand. We had no idea of what money was or where it came from. But we were well aware of the results.
A Nintendo. That’s what you bought with money.
After the other kids having them for years, we finally got one. It was on a Sunday. We must have gone to Roses or KMart and walked in with a wad of cash that my parents worked hard to save and out with a box with pictures of gameplay, pixelated worlds of tomorrow. We imagined how much different our lives would be, there in the middle seat of our Dodge Caravan, hugging the box that held life, promise, cords.
We got home and threw open the van door, the van that had melted suckers in the mats, french fries in the vents. We ran up the porch. Bang. Bang. On the door. Mom’s keys rattled as she unlocked it with her keyring trinket farm that held but three keys. One of those dangles I’d brought home from a trip. A trip to a Zoo. It had a poison frog and a panda. She was the most important woman in the world. But only three things in her life required opening.
Our hearts sank.
Dad was watching the Super Bowl and nothing would change the fact that the one television we owned – the one black and white box that could unleash our dreams – was not ours for at least one more quarter or maybe not ever.
The man was watching gladiators. Those who today I see in slow motion films on Classic cable channels thousands of miles from home but who in that day were in full motion, shining out into an Alabama living room. The boys of two-a-days who’d played down in Starkville or in Gainsville but who were, today, TODAY, the fiercest men in the finest game us Americans ever created. They were there. On the thirteen yard line. Lined up. Blocking the dreams of a ten year old.
Despite everything in the universe vying against us, we became engineers within seconds of the halftime whistle. While the workers on the field prepped whoever played halftime shows in the eighties, we learned to connect the cables and find the channels and power up our future. For three minutes we stared at the Super Mario Brothers intro screen, imagining all the colors that others saw on their televisions. So moved we never pressed any buttons.
Dad turned the knob for the start of the second half.
After the game we had chores. We didn’t play it that day. Nor the next.
But we’d seen the light. And there was no taking that away.