I entered the gleaming white store with trepidation. A cardboard box, previously used to store wrapped, uncooked chicken legs, was held tightly between my arms. Inside of it, dozens of gray plastic squares slid back and forth with the sway of my body.
The automatic doors closed behind me with a whoosh as I felt the overhead air system blow down onto me. I was miles away from where I had been three steps back.
At the front counter stood a bored young woman, her red smock stained in the lower left corner. Coffee? I didn't care. Beside me stood my oldest sister, who was home visiting from school. I don't remember what she wore, only that her eyeshadow was dark blue.
The girl at the counter turned and gave a halfhearted smile as I approached, which was further dulled by the gum that smacked around between her teeth.
"Hi there," she said. I went to speak, but my sister interrupted.
"Hello!" she responded enthusiastically, doing that voice of hers that I hate. You know the one, the voice you make when you're trying to be polite to someone you just met, the one that doesn't sound anything like your own. It further added to the phoniness of the situation.
I strolled over to the counter and set down the box, peering over top of the rim. Behind the counter, the floor was raised, giving the girl this king-like view of the entire store.
"What can I do for you folks today?" Folks? Was she kidding me?
My sister went on gabbing as I frowned, wondering what I was doing here.
A few weeks before, I had seen the ad on television: Zelda. The first Zelda for the N64. I was ecstatic, having been waiting for this moment for a long time. Oh, it had been hyped before, especially in the Nintendo Power subscription I had received every month like clockwork for damn near seven years. This was the game to have, and if you didn't, you sucked.
While kids at my school were giddy about the upcoming dance, I was gibbering about Link with my merry group of nerds, geeks and outcasts.
"Did you see the graphics?"
"Yeah, what about the story?"
"I dunno, it's gonna be awesome, though."
These were the substantive comments made during lunch period. At the table across from us, a gaggle of girls were discussing the stud-factor of the football quarterback. Beside us, more fellow classmates were passing notes to those girls. (Do you like me? Circle Yes, No, Maybe.)
Let them have their crushes and notes. I had Zelda.
When I went home, I spoke to my parents. I told them about it, how cool it was going to be, etc. They, however, had bad news.
Now, I had known we were having financial problems; but, like all situations of that kind, my parents tried shielding it from me. I was, after all the youngest (a.k.a., the "baby") of the family. Little did I know that this thing I craved was not to be mine, because we just couldn't afford it.
I was crushed. More than that, though, I was angry. I was to be denied this? Who did they think they were? Didn't they know how much I wanted it? How much I needed it? They must have known, but decided to go into debt just to spite me.
As I sat sulking in my room, my gaze drifted to the box in the corner. I had been asked to clean out my closet, and most of the clutter I had grudgingly taken out was in there.
"That's it!" I thought. I scrambled over to it and beheld the treasure trove of yesteryear. The box was filled to the brim with NES games. Back when my parents had a thriving business, they spoiled us kids rotten. Bubble Bobble, Mega Man, Batman, Castlevania and more!