22 March 2010
Eric is at once my best and worse friend. If I was rotting away in a Singapore jail and managed to get him on the phone, he'd come and get me out. But if I want to make plans for drinks on any given weekend evening, he'll say "yes" and then (often) not show up.
He's done work on my home. He was there when I married my wife. He is even thoughtful on occasion, but he's completely unreliable when it comes to making plans.
However, if you nail him down he's always up for a good time.
More often than not that means having a few cocktails at a local watering hole and then coming home to listen to The Pixies and play "Top Spin" on the Xbox. The fact that Eric's Xbox still works is a miracle. It is often forgotten and left on for days at a time, covered in dust and spilled vodka. But it fires up, every time. And we use the big, original Xbox controller. Lovingly referred to as the Duke inside Microsoft circles, the original controllers is huge. If they would have stuck with that controller there wouldn't be a kid under the age of 12 who could play an Xbox game unless they had freakishly large hands. Microsoft came to their senses and released a smaller controller a short time after the release of the original Xbox, but I still think playing with the Duke is the way to go.
Eric's not a gamer, but he's always up for a game of "Top Spin," which is a testament to the universal appeal of this excellent tennis game. Anyone can pick up and play this game. The controls are intuitive and tight and the graphics are surprisingly good considering its age. It's certainly a game that can be mastered by better players than I. I found this out the hard way when I took it online one day and got shellacked by some kid who didn't give up one point. But it's just fine for a couple of guys who want to listen to good music and chat with something to occupy their time between the silences.
Who knows when I'll see Eric again. But when I do, I'll bet we'll play "Top Spin."
By Victor Paul Alvarez