Growing up, Christmas meant one thing: another year without a Nintendo.
It didn’t matter how good my grades were. It didn’t matter how hard I begged. It didn’t matter how many friends I made with the sole purpose of camping out in their basements to play Slalom and Bubble Bobble into the wee hours of the afternoon. My parents were terrified of letting that 8-bit Trojan horse into their home.
Then, on Christmas Eve of ’91, it finally happened. I pulled an inconspicuous shoebox from the pile beneath the tree, unwrapped it and held in my trembling 7-year-old hands a copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES! Surely the console itself couldn’t be far behind. I threw my head back and bellowed to the heavens. God bless the Christ Child for providing the occasion for me to receive this greatest of gifts!
But something wasn’t right. My parents were dumbstruck by my unbridled enthusiasm. Surely they knew the worlds that this hunk of plastic and silicon would open to me? Then, the weight of reality slowly crushed me like twenty tons of concrete. There had been a mistake: My mom had purchased Super Mario Bros. when she meant to pick up Mario’s Cement Factory, a crude Game & Watch handheld wherein you helped the Italian plumber load cement trucks.
I rank the Christmas of ’91 as one of the greatest disappointments of my 24 years on this green Earth.