Brad Is A Sixteen Bit Kid Living In An X-Box World
I already wrote about how I motivated Brad to read with the Legend of Zelda but that was neither the beginning nor the end of our gaming together. It started with Wii Sports, especially the boxing. How my three year old son didn't break the television, or his hand, punching in with the Wii Remote I'll never know. He got discouraged at first because Daddy would always win so I let him when a couple matches because he was three. I wish I hadn't done that because it wasn't long before he was beating me legitimately. At the time I just couldn't put the energy into that he did. I couldn't take a game so seriously. I'm thankful that, although it took a while, having a son has reminded me that games can be serious business and fun at the same time. In fact, they're usually more fun the more serious they're taken.
From Wii Sports we moved onto some Mario games including Mario Kart. I'm a Nintendo fan. I can't help it. I played Nintendo with my friend Brad and I was going to play Nintendo with my son Brad. Nintendo makes games that are fun and fantasy while the other companies are all about killing things. That doesn't mean we didn't play what gamers would claim to be more serious games. We spent a long time working our way through Resident Evil 4, thanks Jeff, and I'll never forget when I told Brad there was a part in the game that had scared me and he just had to watch me play it and pretend he wasn't scared.
It was with the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake that he hit his stride as a gamer though. He asked me if all games were that cool when I was a kid. I told him not all but most and introduced him to Metroid and Contra and earlier Zeldas and Super Mario World and all the games my friend Brad and I used to play together. He has a love affair with retro gaming now and spends almost as much time watching YouTube videos of the old days of gaming as he does playing old games on our WiiU Virtual Console. He really wants to play Battletoads because I claim it's the hardest game ever made.
I'm sure some of my non-gaming readers are wondering what the point of this is. Well, the point is I'm reminiscing about good times with my son but there are other points to be made. Brad isn't distracted by the flashy graphics of new games. He values the old games because even though they might not look as good they're better made. He's already learning to value substance over style. He isn't fond of first person shooting games even though they're all the rage right now because he says he can shoot a gun in real life. When he plays a game he wants it to be something he can't do in real life. So he already properly values imagination and he isn't afraid to go against what it popular and be his own person. Also, even though he knows I'll play any game with him, he really loves to play the games his dad loves to play. My little buddy loves me and I know I've got to soak that shit up while I still can.
So when he gets back we've got to play through the Tyranny of King George expansion pack for Assassin's Creed III, buy AC Four, finally beat Super Metroid, play Earthbound, and keep our fingers crossed that an older Zelda game or Battletoads comes out on the Virtual Console while we await new Zelda games. If all of that means nothing to you know that it means this; my son and I will be spending a lot of time together.
Brad Sees Wrestling Live
Another subject that I've talked about before but seeing wrestling live is a completely different experience from watching it on television. There are two major wrestling companies in the U.S., TNA and the WWE, and Brad and I have been to one show of them each. TNA has this cool summer tour they do called BaseBrawl where they do shows in minor league stadiums and they came to Marion, Illinois a couple of summers ago.
We don't watch TNA as much as we do WWE but it didn't matter because TNA has a lot of old WWE wrestlers and Brad knows his wrestling history. I love how he wants to learn all about the history of things that interest him. I have no idea where he gets that from. There was some doubt about if we were going to be able to go because money was tight at the time but it was on my birthday and I decided there was no better birthday present to myself that doing something special with my son.
We got there early and wondered around. Brad was in awe of just seeing the empty ring. We bought some souvenirs, including a toy championship belt for Brad, and Brad pointed out Velvet Sky's behind to me. Thanks Brad. We got her autograph and Brad was uncharacteristically shy. Of course, so was I. Then we took our seats.
We cheered the good guys and jeered the bad guys. We joined in the crowds' drunken chanting and enjoyed the wrestling. There weren't any great matches but they were some very good matches. Brad's eyes were glued to the ring but watching him watch the action wasn't the most memorable moments of the night. About halfway through the night they announced that for twenty dollars after the show with Kurt Angle in the ring. As much as Brad liked "Our Olympic Hero" Kurt Angle it was the in the ring part that most excited him. He kept staring at the ring and saying, "I'm going to get to go in there, aren't I Dad?" Sometimes as a parent, no matter how tight money is, you just can't say no.
Before we got in line to get in the ring, though, we got Jeff Jarrett's autograph. Brad teased this guy about losing his match that night.
"I'm the best," Jeff Jarrett said, "but everyone has a bad night sometimes."
"If you're so good how come you don't have the belt?" Brad asked.
"I ought to slap the taste out of your mouth," Jeff Jarrett said in his meanest bad guy voice to Brad.
Brad's eyes got huge and he looked to me for help. He was trying not to show how scared he was. Then the wrestler laughed and smiled and so did I. Brad looked at us both for a second and then smiled too. Brad
and Jeff Jarrett fist bumped and then we were off to get our picture taken with Kurt Angle IN THE RING.
There were at least a hundred people in line ahead of us but Brad was as patient as can be. He talked trash with some teenagers for a bit over who the best wrestler ever was and ended the argument by screaming "and that's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so." Everyone in line pretty much fell in love with him. He has that affect on people.
Then we got in the ring. He took his time feeling the mat, softer than it looks, and the ring ropes, harder than they look, then he finally looked at Kurt Angle. Kurt said hi and Brad looked at him, held his belt up, and said, "I got my gold Kurt. Where's yours?" Brad can be a cocky little shit and I'm being completely serious when I say I have no idea where he got that from. Kurt was a good guy wrestler so his reaction wasn't near as entertaining. He just said he hoped to win the title soon and then my son and I put our arms around a sweaty man and took a picture with him.
The WWE is a lot different than TNA. TNA is the minor leagues. WWE is the major leagues. WWE didn't come to Marion. It was in St. Louis. There wouldn't be any meeting the wrestlers either. One thousand people went to the TNA show whereas thirty thousand people would be at the WWE show. It was going to cost a heck of a lot more money, too. Still when the WWE announced they would be doing their one thousandth episode of Monday Night Raw, their television show, from St. Louis Brad's uncle decided he would pay for Brad and his cousin Cort to go. Thanks Phil.
There was a special reunion of a group of wrestlers called Degeneration X and we got to chant along with their catchphrases. You haven't lived until you and your seven year old have screamed "Suck it" along with thirty thousand other people. Brad was amazed that during Kane's entrance, which involves fire shooting out of the ringposts, we could feel the heat even though our seats were almost at the top of the building. He was even more amazed when the Undertaker made a special appearance to save his "little" brother Kane. The show, though, was for us all about the main event.
John Cena was taking on C.M Punk for the WWE Championship. This was a big deal because John Cena was Brad's favorite and C.M. Punk was my favorite. There's this odd dynamic in the WWE where John Cena sells the most merchandise and is their number one good guy but he's hated by half the audience; mostly males over twelve. So the standard situation is that the women and children chant "Let's Go Cena" and the guys then answer with "Cena sucks." Well, I couldn't help myself. When Brad and his cousin Cort started chanting "Let's Go Cena" I had to join in the "Cena Sucks" chants. I got some dirty looks and a few good natured punches from Brad and his cousin. My brother, traitor that he is, joined in with the "Lets Go Cena" chants.
We keep these chants up for, no exaggeration, over thirty minutes. None of us had much of a voice the next day. In the end my guy won when Cena was distracted by none other than The Rock. Then my guy ran back in the ring and took out the Rock too. The show ended with my guy holding the title belt while standing over both the fallen John Cena and the Rock. If you don't think I give Brad hell about that until this very day you don't know me very well.