I am in my twilight years, specifically when it comes to my writing career. This is my final article for Retroware TV, and while I’m sure that devastates all of you, I don’t have time to grieve for myself. A dear friend of mine is on her deathbed. She’s struggling to breathe this very second, the cost of her life support skyrocketing with every haggard rasp she makes. No one will mourn her like I will. No one even knows she’s in trouble. But they can’t wait to tell her why she’s not pretty enough for them anymore. I shall surely miss her. Goodbye, Video Games. The world shall never truly know your glory.
Now let me tell you about her glory.
When I was younger, I met Video Games one hazy evening. She was brought home and plugged into a television (a thing you kids call TVs these days) and immediately the title for Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt appeared. I sat next to her, giving her suggestions for what we should do and her reprimanding me harshly for my admittedly poor instructions. She never told me exactly what to do, nor however did she tell me not to do anything. She allowed me to fail, all while we held hands and grew closer together. We stomped turtles as a team. We shot ducks (and attempted to shoot dogs) as a team. And when things got really hot and heavy, she showed me what hell itself must look like.
The years went on and we stayed very close. She always had some new adventure for us to play, and while she was stricter with some than others, she and I still had a very lovely relationship. Sometimes I’d let her know that I didn’t like every adventure she suggested, and she was perfectly OK with that because she knew about dozens of adventures of all sorts.
But then things began to change very slightly. She still wanted to take me on adventures, but when she showed up at my door as thunder cracked over a misty moon in ’96, I could tell that she had had some work done and that her face was contorted in a very unnatural and awkward smile. “What’s wrong with your faaaace,” I asked. She continued smiling and said, “Oh? This? I heard that everyone thought I was looking a little boring, so I made some improvements.” Her features sharp and her colors looking slightly off-putting, she still proved to know more than enough adventures for us to go on, and as long as I didn’t look her in the face for too long, she never felt self conscious.
More began changing with her as time passed. Suddenly she stopped trusting my judgment as she used to and insisted she needed to teach me which path to take and which way was the most effective way to walk on said path. Her constant facelifts seemed less ghoulish, but her eyes became deader and deader with every new nose, every new collagen injection.
Eventually I sat down one day and said, “I think I’d like to go on a grand adventure to a fantasy land,” and she said, “I can’t think of any adventures like that.” “What?” I asked. “But you’ve always had an adventure like that for us.” It was no use, no matter what else I asked. “I’m sorry, but I only want to go on adventures that involve guns and the military or a military faction of some sort.” “But why? When have I ever suggested that that’s something I want for our relationship?” “Our relationship? Oh, well this is rather awkward, but I’ve been seeing someone else and he told me that I should try to be more adult from now on. He’s not very kind to me, and his temper can be downright frightening, but he makes me feel financially stable, and that’s something I truly need in my life right now.”
Things became very tense from that point on. I’d go about my life until I’d get a call from Video Games, telling me that she had a wonderful new adventure to tell me about. She’d stop by, the bruise around her left eye noticeable but not something I could bring myself to talk about, and we’d spend a quiet evening rekindling our love from the past. But come the morning, she’d thank me and return to the screaming and crashing coming from down the street.
Now and then I’d ask her if she’d spoken with any of our mutual friends, and she’d tell me that she tries, but they say vile things to her. She found herself more and more confused by their suggestions as they wanted her to be cooler, but not to sell out. They wanted her to look prettier, but also be a less expensive date. She’d tell them about a new adventure, only to have them look her dead in the eyes and say that they’d never go on that adventure with her, even as they take her wallet and rifle through it.
She called me up a few years ago, sounding tired and desperate. A fantastic adventure was in store for us, if I was interested, and all I had to do was come down and pick her up. I couldn’t resist the chance to spend some quality time, just the two of us, so I quickly pulled the old station wagon up to her street and let her in. She seemed quiet, but still smiled politely the entire time, assuring me the adventure was just around the corner. We drove around in circles, not really talking much save for a few simple directions from her and a general worry from my end that we’d run out of gas if we kept driving. She assured me that stopping to get a few more gallons would pay off in the long run, so I put a couple of bucks of unleaded into the tank and continued. This repeated a few times until she finally started sobbing, saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t really know where we were going. I just was so desperate for some company.”
Feeling somewhat cheated, I took a break from her. Not for overly long, but enough that I was getting very worried. I made the effort to knock at her door and see if she was OK. She answered, looking worn out, and could hardly speak. I noticed that she couldn’t look me straight in the eye anymore, and for that matter, she couldn’t focus on any one thing for too long before looking elsewhere. Through a disjointed conversation, I learned that people were telling her that while adventures are fine, they needed her to do so much more. She needed to do what Movies had been doing for so many years. She needed to partner with Internet and his nephew Social Media. No one wanted her to be herself anymore and said unless she could do what everyone else could do and then some, they’d ignore her entirely.
This last year was the hardest it’s ever been on her. Her identity gone, her energy sapped, her resources utterly depleted, and her will to continue waffling precariously between ON and OFF. She came to see me one last time, her eyes glossy and red from tears, begging for enough to pay off some debts she was in. She just needed $400 or $500 to get back on her feet and assured me that things would pick up for her once I had relinquished the money. I told her I couldn’t spare to lend her any more, not after the $350 from the year previously. She seemed to understand, and without saying a word, she turned and left my doorstep.
I heard on the news that she had gotten herself in trouble. Multiple times, it turned out. One story claimed she had started a fire. Another suggested that she passed out millions of stolen credit card numbers to willing buyers. The most disturbing report seemed to believe she had told some kids to kill one another. And yet she was forced to put on a bright smile and dance around for everyone when June rolled around again and again.
No one is happy to see her anymore. No matter whom she talks to, she can never seem to please them in any way. The two of us hardly have anything to talk about when we see each other on brief occasions, choosing to recall shadows of fond memories rather than talk about something, anything new.
My heart breaks to see her, because I know she’s on the road to self-destruction. She’s fallen too far into a pit of despair and there’s nothing I or anyone else could ever do to save her at this point. Her lifestyle costs far more than she can afford, but she’s expected to keep up appearances, so she feels there’s nothing she can do about it.
With the holiday season ebbing and flowing around us, my old friend sits alone at the end of an unkempt bed, unable to sleep, without the funds to eat, and quickly dying without any real medicine or help. I’ve considered what to do, but in the end, the best thing I could do may be to let her go, for both our sakes.
So farewell, Video Games. I pray that you recover or find the support you need, but for now, I think we should go our separate ways. Merry Christmas, and God bless.