16 March 2010
Heather was beautiful. Stunning, actually. If I could post a picture of her instead of a game for this entry I would. I was a 20-year-old junior at Towson State University at the time and she was a redheaded poet a few years older and a ton wiser. She sat to my right in a film class I took for the hell of it. Each day I would wait for the teacher to call her name so I could hear her voice say "here."
It was well into the semester before I got up the courage to ask her out, and even then it was one of those non-dates that cowards like me go for so as to not put ourselves under the swinging dagger of rejection.
She went for it and, eventually, things went well. So well, in fact, that I spent one Christmas with her family. The evening prior I had said something so monumentally stupid and childish that I was surprised she didn't drop me on the spot. She forgave - but never forgot - and I was let back in. Still smarting from my dumb statement I felt uncomfortable in her mother's house. Moms had always been my strong suit. I fancied myself a bit of a charmer back then and I felt I could be endearing to a girl's mom without coming off like a jackass.
Not this time. I felt slow-witted and foolish. The words did not come. I was Samson with a haircut.
Then I heard her adolescent brother playing with his Christmas gift downstairs. It was a Sega Genesis.
Here was my life raft.
"Mind if I go play a few games with your brother?"
Permission granted. I can't remember the kid's name but he was polite and seemingly cool with having to share his Sega with his sister's boyfriend.
We played Streets of Rage. Any kid who liked Streets of Rage was OK in my book.
Suddenly the tightness I had felt all day washed away. There's no tension when you're beating up bad guys with the kid brother of your hot girlfriend. Just Christmas bliss. And I can think of no better game to play in this situation. We fought side-by-side against the dregs of a forgotten city. We laughed and cheered. Good defeated evil and, I think, I was forgiven by the end of it all.
Heather is someone I will always remember fondly. She has found love and success in this world and I am honored to consider her a friend. I could say the same of Streets of Rage. It was a beautiful game then and it's still a beautiful game now.
And, like a good friend, it will always be there whenever I need it no matter what's happened since the last time we were together.
By Victor Paul Alvarez