A New Challenger Approaches
Life can throw you a lot of curveballs. You might find yourself unexpectedly becoming a father, be picked first when people choose their teammates, and even find a million dollars in a duffel bag. The point is, there will always come a time where you will be blindsided. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is for the worse. It could hurt your ego or even boost it. This one event, though, could leave you with a knotting feeling in your stomach. You don’t quite know how to take the news and you don’t quite know if you can accept it.
The event I’m talking about is when someone you hold near and dear to you takes you down a peg. You’re supposed to be their knight, their champion. You’re the one who crushes roaches. You’re the one who walks through the dark hallway unafraid. You’re the one who chain roots a Tauren warrior underwater so that your loved one can flee to safety. You are one who is not fearful but accepts fear for what it is. You are the hero and the guardian.
Then, the day comes when you realize this person isn’t as helpless as you’d think. There comes the time where you are the underdog and the fragile swan becomes the marauding murderer.
I had always thought of myself as an above average gamer. One game I thought myself exceptionally good at was Mario Kart for the SNES. I had played every version of Mario Kart because it always held that great competitive yet joyous multiplayer aspect to it. I was a first place kind of player. Yeah, sometimes I’d get second or third but I was always on that pedestal and more times than none I was the one towering over the runner-ups. I had never met a player who was greater than me in Mario Kart. We were either equal or I burned brighter.
It filled me with great happiness to be as skilled as I was at Mario Kart. Yes, it was a game where I would dominate but it was fun not only for me but for friends and family that played a long side myself. It was simply an entertaining game, one that I especially enjoyed throughout my life.
Then, Mario Kart Wii came out. I will admit, I was there at the midnight release with all the nine year old kids who were dressed as Mario but I didn’t care. Mario Kart was something I had to have in my collection and I bared no shame being the only person with hair on his balls in the line. To my lack of surprise, it played practically the same as the previous titles but had a couple of changes that added some gusto to the mix. I would certainly dominate in this Mario Kart again.
How wrong I was… I was so naive.
This was the first Mario Kart to come out since my wife and I were married and I had never played Mario Kart with her before. I expected it to be the same kind of formula as when we usually played multiplayer games. We’d do a couple of rounds and then she’d get upset that I’m winning and then I’ll do a couple of rounds where I slow down a bit and pretend to fuck up so she’d do better but then she’d bitch at me accusing me of allowing her to win. Shortly after that, she’d give up and never play again. We’ve all been through this scenario, if not with our wife, then with our brother, or sister, or guido friend.
Not this time, though.
After the first trek through Mario Raceway, my wife was first and by a long shot. I couldn’t even catch up. Beginner’s luck, I thought to myself. That’s what it had to be. There is no way she is devastating me this much.
Another race, again same results.
Another race, she is not a speck in my rear view mirror but a speck in my horizon.
Another race, I finally got ahead but wait what is this? Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am. She demolishes me with every weapon known to the Mushroom Kingdom and overtakes me with an enormous lead.
How could this happen? How could she be this good? She doesn’t know about pressing UP when going off a ramp for a boost. She doesn’t know about using a shell or banana as a barricade to destroy red shells. She doesn’t know about popping a wheelie on a straight road to gain a significant speed boost.
So how?! How does she know how to win with such grace?
Pushing my ego aside, I dared to ask. “Honey,” I politely inquired, “How did you do that? What is your secret?” She looked at me puzzled. “I just raced, you motherfucker.” is her reply. This wasn’t sufficient. I had to know. What did she do?
“Do you dodge bananas well?”
“I just drive.”
“Do you conserve your mushroom boosts?”
“I just drive.”
“Do you race directly behind someone to increase your acceleration?”
“I just drive.”
There is no secret. She just drives. But this isn’t good enough of an answer! How did she defeat me, a golden god in my own right?! No matter how long we haven’t played Mario Kart, she still dominates everyone. None are left in her wake.
When I look into her eyes as she plays, I see no determination. I see no enjoyment. I see no past, I see no present, and I see no future.
What I do see is a soulless machination whose sole purpose in life is to sow confusion and hysteria in the minds of those she crushes.
I love my wife. I really do. However, when we play Mario Kart I feel like I should be sporting a purse because she makes me look a bitch. She took one of the most memorable games of my childhood and turned into one of the most terrifying and unexplainable experiences in my life. I am left with a feeling of pride as it is my wife who is destroying my friends in Mario Kart but at the same time an incredible wave filled with unworthy emotions sweep over me. I enjoy playing with her but I also fear those remorseless eyes.
Never again will Mario Kart hold a feeling of pure bliss in my heart. It will forever and onward be filled with a mixture of shriveling self esteem and panic.