I may have been raised by my grandparents, but they were actually pretty awesome grandparents.
My nana and papa were geeky and nerdy before it was really much of a wide-spread thing. My papa had computers most of my life getting his first home PC when I was 2 years old. We would enter programs together and I learned to spell, read, write, and type all at the same time. The first word I could spell (and type) was RUN. I spelled it “R-U-N return” because that’s how you started programs back in those days. (This is before the return key became the enter key. The geek is old) My grandparents lost no chance making me the trained monkey in their family circus by having me do that in front of company.
My nana was a reader and avid movie watcher. She loved Stephen King and Steven Spielberg and could name actors. And my grandparents didn’t just go bowling, they WERE bowlers. The first time they took me bowling I threw 3 or 4 frames in the typical two-handed beginners I’m only 4-year-old way before my nana said, ‘OK, now you’re going to learn how to throw right’ at which point they promptly made me start throwing one-handed.
And best of all, my nana was a gamer. She had an Atari and could turn over Pinball for hours on end. She could destroy you at missile Command, stomp you at bowling, and ace you at golf.
She stood in line to get me a first run Nintendo the year they came out. She told a story about how she got the display model, the last one K-Mart had in stock. You see in those days we didn’t have Wal-Mart Super Centers and K-Mart was the place to go. She had to fight another old lady who tried to say she was there first. But my nana was loud, had worked in a factory all of her life, and cussed like a sailor. I’m sure it was no contest.
But she didn’t really play the Nintendo that much. It wasn’t her style and there weren’t many games that fit her style. We would play a game or two together on it but mostly that was mine.
So eventually the Sega Genesis came out and I wanted to test it out. We had a video store in our small town called D&D Video. It was an awesome place where you could owe 20 dollars in late fees and tell them you only had enough to rent the video you wanted to watch that day and they’d tell you that was fine. This was way before Blockbuster and it now hits me that I have seen the birth, rise, domination, decline, and demise of an entire chain of Video stores.
My papa was ready to shell out the dough so I could rent the Genesis and a few games for a day or two. Now we just needed to get nana’s OK. Like any good home the woman was in charge. She gave the OK on one condition, we had to pick up a game she would want to play as well.
I had my games picked out pretty quick. Altered Beast came with it, Sonic was a must for any Super Mario fan, and Rush’n’Attack I believe. The hard part was finding something to appease my nana. We found it in a golf game. Specifically Arnold Palmer Golf.
Part of our trip really turned out to be useless as nana barely stopped playing that golf game. She started mastering it almost immediately. In the time she played that game throughout her time she had over 20 holes in one. She really was crazy good when she wanted to be.
Well we had the machine paid up for a solid 5 days at which point nana said we couldn’t take it back because she was in the middle of a tournament. Another week later and she was trying to master this or that. It was my dream come true, really, because I did get to play with her (yes I got very good at that game to even come close to competing with her) and when she went to bed or went out I could play one of the games I had gotten.
We kept the Genesis rented just over a month when my papa came in holding a bag from Toys’R’Us filled with a brand new Sega. He throws it in my nana’s lap and said, “Here, I’m tired of paying the damn late fees.” To which my nana simply replied, “Well shit, now I have to start this tournament over.”