Farewell, Twenty Dollars; We Hardly Knew Ye
Normally, such things would go unnoticed. Grandma has an impressive console that not only compliments all of her years of gaming, it applauds it by glimpsing into the future. Usually we would not care about the consequences.
But I lost twenty dollars, goddammit.
That's one less than blackjack and one more than nineteen, for those of you keeping track. A seemingly small amount of legal tender; petty even, when contrasted to far larger sums such as the remaining balance of my student loans, or the total spent in my lifetime on Gobstoppers (God DAMN you Willy Wonka!!) ...but that twenty dollars was mine, and mine alone. It's gone now. It will never come back.
For those of you unfamiliar with a twenty dollar bill, preferring electronic means to pay for goods and services, it comes in the form of a green shaded parchment adorned with the likeness of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of The United States. Andrew Jackson once said: "No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody." By god he was right. I know that now. I was naive and innocent several hours ago; O how I long to go back to that time of primitive childish ignorance. I was happier then.
XBox Live Arcade is filled with addictive titles, many of which you recommended to us; such as Geometry Wars, Zuma, and Bejeweled 2. The demos are never enough. They give you just a hint of the drug you once knew; just enough to taste the memory of bliss you once had playing the older, perhaps PC versions. It was easy to see Grandma's delight with Geometry Wars even though the sparkled firework graphics of the mayhem on screen was reflected so vividly upon her bifocals, obscuring her eyes. "Now THAT is fucking BEAUTIFUL" she cooed. "We've GOT to get this thing, man."
"Alright, cool!" I managed to say, for even I was transfixed upon the screen; the loud whirring of the 360 silenced by the pounding techno resonating throughout the house.
It would have to be ours.
Microsoft Points can be purchased at GameStop, Walmart and Best Buy by obtaining tiny plastic cards with any number of letters, symbols or numerals that will magically transform a demo into the preferred "full version;" truly- a kiss to the frog prince of gaming.
But the kiss was not to be.
The trip to GameStop was joyful; there were four of us then, I'm not certain how many are alive now. We all talked about what Bobby would buy with his ill begotten $14 store credit from two traded games. We discussed strategies to alternate gaming schedules, so that no one would miss the opportunity to play one of the many titles we would have in our possession by nights-end. We listened to the radio; we laughed and joked... GOD how stupid we were! Why didn't anyone tell us? Were we so uninformed?!
The card was behind the glass case above the counter guarded by a surly looking gentleman of considerable height, who would inevitably ask us about our intentions. We knew the score. We calmly buy the artifact, politely deny his request that we reserve a copy of the upcoming releases, leave quickly but safely- and transverse the dangerous roads between Aurora and Mantua with the constant reminder that we carry precious cargo.
Yes, the Card that would provide us, all of us, with hours of entertainment and friendly competition. Grandma eyed the man suspiciously, the decapitated Donky Kong and Legend of Zelda suckers on the counter tempted her- but she obeyed her well trained instincts and went to BATTLE.
Grandma - "Um... Hi, do you have that Microsoft Points card ...thing for the 360?"
The Man - "Yup. Here ya go."
Grandma - "Cool, how much?"
The Man - "Ummm...... $19.99 exactly."
Grandma - "Great!"
Me - "I got this one; here's a twenty."
The Man - "Okay.... would you like to reserve a copy of Elder Scrolls IV?"
Me - "Not just yet."
The Man - "Great! Here's your receipt, have a nice day!"
Me/Grandma - "You too, dude!"
And it was over.
We drove, BY THE HEAVENS we drove; the sharp plastic encasing the card stuck ever so slightly out of the bag, taunting us and yet comforting us; for it was ours. Nothing would come between us and XBox Live Arcade anymore. We were safe, it seemed. There was only one thing left to do. One FINAL task: Scratch off the back bottom left section of the card to reveal the number that would enable the magic to run its course, FEEDING us with Geometry Wars and Zuma.
I cut around the edge of the package, then used brute force to rip the layers in twain; revealing the card- the card, O THE CARD was so vulnerable now- NOTHING COULD STOP ME!!! I brandished my scissor blade and came down; DOWN upon the surface of the scratch card! The scratching continued, full force; the shavings of plastic and soft, malleable card-flesh flew into the air, creating a snow; a cascade of falling pieces that fell upon my arms as I raised the card closer to inspect my work, checking for anything I might have missed that would require more SCRATCHING.
Everyone was standing around, watching me. No doubt they noticed the grave look that changed my visage from the cheerful card-scratcher into the horrified and depressed person you see today. Their expressions changed too- first from glee to worry; then from worry to panic.
Only two words escaped my mouth:
Grandma glanced at the card and then looked back up at me. "Use a penny next time, asshole. Pff! He used SCISSORS!"
My Pride. It is dead.