Good Old-Fashioned Family Fun

My grandfather is a complete scoundrel. He smells of trickery and deceit. If he were a Norse god, he'd be Loki; if he were a Final Fantasy character, he'd be Cait Sith. He is a rogue, a rapscallion, a villain, a knave, and all the other Shakespearean insults combined. He is a man who, when playing a game of Boggle against his seven-year old granddaughter, cheats shamelessly and mercilessly - only to lie when he is caught. (Just so you know, "fazumy" is not a real word, and certainly not some African bush bird - no matter what he says).

Don't get me wrong: I love my grandfather, even when - especially when - he tries to cheat. He is a good man, though he doesn't sound like it; he only cheats when playing games with his family, and only then when the odds are overwhelmingly in his favor. He thinks it's funny, which, I suppose, it is - just not when he's doing it to me.

When I was younger, I lived with my father in a Baltimore suburb, and on alternate weekends I'd visit my grandparents, who lived an hour away. Every Friday the script would be the same. Grandmom, a Jewish stereotype incarnate, would spend the night at the auction house scavenging bargains, leaving Grandpop and me to amuse ourselves. Inevitably, ritualistically, we'd descend to the basement, where waiting on a wobbly bureau was an Atari 2600, painfully obsolete but treasured beyond compare.

Near the TV was an industrial-sized trashcan filled with musty stuffed animals. One by one, I'd take them out, and for several minutes I'd meticulously place them around the room: on bookshelves, in armchairs, on ottomans and coat-racks. Sometimes, Grandpop would help me, but usually he'd set up the Atari and our favorite game, Breakout, instead. When we both finished, he'd plop into a green chair absent of stuffed residents, pull down an imaginary microphone, and announce in his best Howard Cosell voice:

"Welcome! Thank you all for coming!" The stuffed animal audience, voiced by my clumsy ventriloquism, would cheer loudly.

"It's time for the rumble in the jungle"… the battle to end all battles"… the Video Game Championship-'' He'd pause dramatically, "- of the WORLD!

The crowd would go wild.

"In this corner, the lass with sass... Lara!" The crowd would cheer so wildly that one or two of them would fall over in wildness.

"In the other corner, the defending Atari champion"… Grandpop!" Abruptly, the audience would fall silent. He'd continue unfazed, "Tonight, it will all be decided: who is the Champion of the World, and who is just a sad, little fazumy"…"

And then, we'd play.

Surprisingly, my grandfather is rather good at video games. In addition to the Atari, my grandparents owned an NES, upon which Grandpop unleashed his true gaming fury: Second Quest Gannon fell before his dexterity; Samus removed her Varia Suit in honor of his speed; he even managed to navigate the mountain level in Ninja Gaiden (goddamn birds). When playing a mere Atari game, he could have schooled me blind-folded. But he wasn't about to let talent get in the way of his fun.

It's hard to cheat at video games, because, unless you can telepathically fiddle with circuitry, the high score displayed is generally correct. Ataris do not lie; it isn't in their programming. Although you can always declare, "I wasn't doing it right, lemme go again", at some point, you are either good at a game or not.

Nevertheless, Grandpop would find his ways. If I had to go to the bathroom, he'd play my round without telling me. Or he'd launch into a funny story about dinosaurs living in the sewers, so distracting me with laughter that I'd lose track of the ball. Sometimes he would body-check me. Once, he even pretended the stuffed animals were heckling me, but that made me cry, so he never did it again.

He would always win, of course. I never once beat him. I remember a time when I came close, but conveniently the power went out. He cackled, exclaiming, "Honey-pot, even God's on my side."

Yet, still I tried. Like Sisyphus with his boulder, still I tried.

All of those Friday nights accumulated have crafted me into a gamer of staggering tenacity, especially in the face of defeat. Shutting a game off before I've beaten the level, mission, or boss seems to me an act of despair and failure. Countless nights I've sacrificed, endlessly seeking that one last gold coin, that one last mini-boss, that one last power-up, clinging to my quest like a dog to a bone, refusing to just do the sensible thing and just quit already.

Eventually, I got better and started beating the games I played; now, I too can beat the mountain level in Ninja Gaiden. However, success is not the reason I continue. On some subconscious level, I see nearly every game I play as a competition against my memories. More than fifteen years later, I am still driven to absolve my defeat at the hand of my trickster grandfather.

Do I expect that one day, I will hear his voice in the back of my head, congratulating me on a game well played? If that is the case, I'm sorely mistaken; he'd never do anything so gracious as that.

More likely, I play so that if ever there is another Video Game Championship, I'll beat him whether he plays fair or not. Although, just between you and me, I hope he cheats. Indeed, I hope he'll continue to cheat forever.

Though, if there is a rematch, I'm going to cheat right back. Scoundrel's rules.

Comments

IF? IF there is a rematch? The Han Solo (ya know scoundrel) demands you visit said rapscalion grandfather and slap the preverbial gloves upon him (bonus points if its a NES Glove) and commence with the video gaming... If the Atari doesn't work, shell out the $15 for one of those new all in one Atari joysticks and compete for high score!

That's a great story Katerin! Very well done. Good to see you on the front page.

Bravo. I can not say enough nice things about this story. Your Kung Fu is strong, and your voice is a welcome addition.

Great story. It put a smile on my face.

I'm confused... cheating is good? Picking on elders is a way to show who is the boss? Is that what you trying to say, Katerin?

If that's the case... I'm game!

Very enjoyable read, Katerin.

Thanks, everyone, for the positive comments! Friday's always a good day for mushy, feel-good stories of cheating, lying, and body-checking children.

I give it five of Grandma's fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies out of five!

KaterinLHC wrote:

Friday's always a good day for mushy, feel-good stories of...body-checking children.

Every day is a good day for that.

Awesome story. I thought maybe I knew where they lived, but then I realized they'd not be playing Atari on Friday night there, even inside the eruv...lol

you rock and/or roll Katerin. Great read! Now isn't this way more satisfying than just posting in everybody else's thread ?

Well, done, Katerin. Great story for a rainy Friday!

Brilliantly crafted! Congratulations on making the front page, where you belong!

Razorgrin wrote:

Brilliantly crafted! Congratulations on making the front page, where you belong!

We are talking about the front page of GWJ still right?

Superb work. Though I never had grandparents like that it was a good read (mine taught me the meaning of work from age 6 and onward by having me clean their house whenever I came over). Oh how I don't miss those days.

Dream wrote:
Razorgrin wrote:

Brilliantly crafted! Congratulations on making the front page, where you belong!

We are talking about the front page of GWJ still right? :)

Zing!

"Well I thought it was a lovely story, and you tell it so well, with such enthusiasm."

The only way to ever beat your grandfather is the old "pull the gun under the table at the bar" trick. just hope he doesn't dodge in the special edition. damn scoundrel.

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

belt wrote:

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

Okay, I was keeping that to myself, but yeah...

Reminds me of the good 'ol days of Atari with my Dad. He never cheated, he was just always better at most games. Occasionally we still play card games on yahoo together tho!

Fedaykin98 wrote:
belt wrote:

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

Okay, I was keeping that to myself, but yeah...

Thirded.

KaterinLHC wrote:

He is a rogue, a rapscallion, a villain, a knave, and all the other Shakespearean insults combined.

I like 'scallywag' or the more historical 'scalawag.'

Razorgrin wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:
belt wrote:

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

Okay, I was keeping that to myself, but yeah...

Thirded.

Okay, you all stink. It is perfectly legitimate for grandfathers to call their granddaughters 'honey-pot', or for that matter, "sweetie" and "little one". It's not evidence of some stupid Lolita complex. Jesus, its not like he's calling me "sex-pot".

Don't you have any affectionate nicknames you use to refer to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, little cousins, etc? Children require affectionate nicknames, it's just part of the deal.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Razorgrin wrote:

He is a rogue, a rapscallion, a villain, a knave, and all the other Shakespearean insults combined.

I like 'scallywag' or the more historical 'scalawag.'

A 'scalawag', historically, is a white Southerner who supported the Reconstruction efforts after the American Civil War; the term was hundreds of years late for Shakespeare.

I've always been fond of "an eater of broken meats". I haven't the faintest idea what it's supposed to mean, but it's one of a litany of insults hurled by Kent in King Lear.

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

When I hear "honey-pot" all I can think of is Pooh Bear, it's perfectly adorable. Speaking of cuddly nicknames for kids, a friend of mine called her son "puppy" for the longest time. I don't know, it just bothered me for some reason.

This kind of articles is what sets GWJ apart from the rest of the sites. Thats quality, baby.

My grandparents always called my younger sister "booger".

I thought it was awesome. She did not.

They didn't have any nicknames for me

KaterinLHC wrote:

Sometimes he would body-check me. Once, he even pretended the stuffed animals were heckling me, but that made me cry, so he never did it again.

So, what'd he say that made you cry?

KaterinLHC wrote:

Don't you have any affectionate nicknames you use to refer to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, little cousins, etc? Children require affectionate nicknames, it's just part of the deal.

Um, yes, but something akin to Princess or Angel. Honey-pot may be a generation thing but makes me think of hackers and getting your bank account emptied.

Damn, I have to agree, that was pretty funky. =)

I just find it touching that you have a grandparent that would actually play video games with you. Any solicitiation towards my elders would be met with phrases including 'newfangled' and 'why don't you go outside or something?'

Cheat away. Stolen honey is sweeter.

A delight to read, Miss Kat. Congratulations on your Front Page debut.

Huzzah! The Moose gives this article Two Antlers up. And not like that, you sickos. Quite a good read. Of course, these days, what with the whippersnappers and the internets and the LPBs, and whatnots, any article/post not about World of Warcraft or Battlefield 1942 (2) might be considered a good read.

Hurray for nostalgia! Video gaming filtered through the rose-tinted filter of familial memory is a wonderful thing to share.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Razorgrin wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:
belt wrote:

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

Okay, I was keeping that to myself, but yeah...

Thirded.

Okay, you all stink. It is perfectly legitimate for grandfathers to call their granddaughters 'honey-pot', or for that matter, "sweetie" and "little one". It's not evidence of some stupid Lolita complex. Jesus, its not like he's calling me "sex-pot".

Personally, I like "honey-pot". I thought it was kinda sweet.

Also, excellent story. I'm half tempted to print it out and show it to my Imaginative Writing teacher. I think he'd get a kick out of it, too.