I talk to my teenaged son, who now keeps me in the loop as to when new games are coming out. The torch has been passed. Blessedly, he seems to be pretty well-adjusted. He’s still a sweet kid, and I thank God every night for that.
About ten years back, when I was staying with my ex’s family, long before my children were born, I knew this little kid named Anthony. He was about five or six at the time. One of my first memories of this kid was coming back to my room and finding my games missing. I tracked him to his grandmother’s room where, sure enough, there there were, and there was Anthony. Nervous, knowing he had been caught, he very cautiously gave me the bird. I was angry at the time. I think it’s funny now.
Anthony hated to lose. Sometimes, I would dread playing with him, because I knew we’d be in for a screaming fit if he lost. He would cry, scream, curse, and tell you exactly what he thought of you if he lost a game. It could’ve been football or anything on a console. Anthony didn’t just didn’t like to lose.
And he was relentless. He was always at my upstairs bedroom door, asking if he could play (since I had all the games). Sometimes I let him in, sometimes not, and when I played with him, I always took it easy. No point in annihilating some little kid, right? Besides, I remember him picking things up quickly.
Eventually, he got better at losing…and he learned from his mistakes. I remember, even when he was a kid, and we were tossing around Super Street Fighter 2, he caught me off guard a couple of times and nearly took a round from me.
When I last saw him, the screaming fits had been replaced with quiet anger. He didn’t scream or cry anymore. He’d even learn to laugh it off and say ‘good game’. But there was always that rolling anger behind his eyes each time he lost. And each time he lost, I remember it got a little harder to beat him. I’d seen that before.
Fast forward to two days ago.
Imagine my surprise when I get a call from Anthony, who’s calling on the line that belongs to both his, and my kids, maternal grandmother. I knew Anthony had grown up, but I had no idea how much. I’m talking to someone who’s almost a grown man now, nearly eighteen years old. Where’s all this time going?
Anyway, he called me to tell me that he had competed in a Street Fighter 4 tournament at his local gamestop. And he won.
My jaw hit the floor and the only thing I could think of was how proud I was of him. He was even teaching Terry (my son) how to play. Terry could compete, but he’s not ready for the pros yet. I pray I get to finish what Anthony started.
It’s not over for him. Next he goes to round two, and if he wins there, he advances to state.
I have to admit a shudder. I’m the most ferociously competitive person most people know, and I used to be damn near invincible at any game I played. But that was a long time ago, and I haven’t gamed professionally in years.
It would be a trip and a half if Anthony could now, finally, do what no one else has ever been able to do; beat me at Street Fighter.
I’m not going to compete. It’s not my tournament. But I’m proud of him. It’s really cool to see everything come full circle.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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