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Homestead: Part One

Good news, multiplayers! I'm back from my momentary retreat to the darkest recesses of Valhalla (Thor claims you owe him five bucks, by the way)! To make up for my month-long sabbatical, I'm starting a new series on how gaming has woven its way into my family and the tales that it begat. Hope you enjoy!

I wasn't particularly old enough to remember the momentous event, but it was spoken to me as a young child, passed on like an oral history of our gaming heritage. Whether or not it's actually true, I don't know. But if it's not true, don't tell me, because the tall tale is better than reality.

My parents had just closed up on a mortgage on what would become the house I would grow up in, and having a bit of cash, my father decided to spend it on a Nintendo Entertainment System. He would play it with my siblings as I stood in my playpen and watched, curious at the bright colors and the smooth motion of the red-hatted, mustachioed plumber on-screen. However, the trouble was getting me to stop watching. Legend tells that one of the only ways to get the youngest of the Waite children to stop crying was for someone to start playing Nintendo. Upon the start of the game, I was as happy as a clam once again.

I, for one, believe it. Thanks to my dad's expenditure on that fateful day when I was young, I became a gamer for life.

Due to the natural evolution of raising and providing for three children, my dad had less and less time to play video games with us. That never stopped him from taking some time when he could, though.

However, this spare time came at a detriment to my own in-game progress at times.

I was in 5th grade, and my teacher was the coolest teacher that ever walked across the face of this planet. She, in her infinite kindness, had allowed me to borrow her Nintendo 64. As joyous as joyous could be, I set it up in our basement and promptly spent hours of the following weekends playing the crap out of 'Mario 64.' I had amassed an amount of extra lives that rivaled the gold stashed in Scrooge McDuck's vault.

It was one such afternoon that my mother called me from upstairs, asking me to take out the trash. Pausing the game, my game that I felt was very safe and secure with the 20+ lives that Mario had at his disposal, I trudged upstairs and dutifully took the trash outside. I couldn't have been gone more than two minutes. When I stepped back inside, I heard a terrible, crushing sound: the soulful wail of a certain Italian plumber falling to his doom.
Again I heard it. And again. And again.

As I quickened my step, I heard another sound mingling with Mario's woeful, Wilhelm-esque cry: the hysterical laughter of my father. Finally reaching the bottom of the stairs, I fully realized the scene before me: my dad sitting on the couch, guffawing almost to the point of tears as he attempted to guide Mario through a slide race and starting a fresh batch of laughter each time he failed to make it past the first turn. My eyes wide, I looked toward the upper-left hand corner of the screen to see my once numerous lives in a pitiful state:

Three. 

Out of 20-some-odd extra lives, my father had managed to waste almost the entirety of them. Needless to say, I held onto that feeling, never forgiving him until I was a mature grown man bitterly writing an article about how he had completely destroyed my extra life stash.

Now the whole world knows, Dad. Now everyone can see you for the monster you are.

My dad still doesn't get much of a chance to game these days, but every once in a while, we'll sneak in a game or two of 'Halo' when he's not working his butt off. What can I say? His work ethic never died, and because of that work ethic and his sacrifices throughout my childhood, I could enjoy this awesome hobby that he (probably completely accidentally) introduced to me. Even as a kid, I understood the fact that he didn't have time to game with us because he was too busy being the best father he could possibly be, keeping a roof over our heads and making sure we were cared for.

However, don't think for a second that I've let him off the hook. He still owes me 23 lives.

Aaron Waite shamelessly ripped his opening line from a 'Futurama' episode. Completely shamelessly.

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