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August 7, 2011 / jwaxo

Kirby’s Dream Land (Not Being Whiny)

Apparently not named after the vacuums.

I’ve had at least one very vocal request to explain the story behind me getting the original GameBoy, which I’ve stated is stupidly embarrassing. As that constitutes about 10% of my readers, I guess that’s a good enough reason to take action.

Video game publishers, take note.

So. Winter of third grade. 1996. The GameBoy had been out on the market for 7 years, almost all of my life. All of my friends had one: the kid down the street (and his sister), Best Friend, all of the kids on TV. Which leaves that I, like so many kids, wanted one extremely badly.

The previous year this had culminated in my receiving of a cheap Power Rangers-themed GameBoy ripoff thing, which, while fun, satisfied me to only a small degree. I wanted to play that new Zelda game, or find out what the deal was with this Kirby thing that could inflate itself and suck up its enemies.

I had been asking for one for years, in other words.

And now it’s time for the other player in this game to arrive: my aunt was getting married, and it was happening in Germany because she lived on the Army base there, and my parents were going.

Now that I’m an adult it’s much easier to look at this and scoff at myself, but I was such a clingy little kid. To put it in perspective: sleepovers scared me, even next-door ones. I would go home and sleep there.

Artist’s Representation of a Leg Cling.

So the news that my parents would be gone for more than a week shook me just a tiny bit. I remember the original plan for us kids: we would be split up and shuffled around between various relatives and family friends. There was a giant piece of paper with names and dates written on it and it scared me to death.

I really don’t know why. I remember at one point, when they went on a cruise in fifth grade leaving us at home with a live-in babysitter, I was worried that they were going to die. Pretty neurotic, I know. They (hilariously) talked to us on a phone somewhere and informed me personally about the safety procedures they had explained to them. But why the Germany thing? What is separation anxiety even about? I have no idea. I offer no explanation, other than the fact that I freaked out and melted down at this news.

Before I knew it, I was getting a passport and there were three tickets to Germany.

The plan was to leave Christmas morning, fly across the country to somewhere in the East coast (New York?), then jaunt across the ocean to Europe. Attend the rehearsal, wedding, and reception, then fly on back a little over a week later. That left many very, very long plane flights for little old me to deal with.

Bill Cosby had a bit about a boy named Jeffery that took place on a plane flight. My name was not spelled that way, nor was I four, but a trip that long would not be pleasant for anyone.

Which brings to these coming to head.

It was Christmas eve. The annual, traditional Christmas get-together by my entire extended family was happening an evening early so that we wouldn’t miss out. Presents had been unwrapped, food had been eaten, people were sitting around chatting.

All of the grandkids were waiting, anticipation hiking in their chests, for the $50 gift certificates to the Boise Town Square Mall that my loving, awesome grandparents give out every year, without fail.

My mom’s parents, by the way, are awesome. I hear they make up about 20% of my reader base, read out loud by my mom, and that’s pretty darn spiffy.

I patiently waited, watching Grandpop pass out the envelopes containing the hallowed $50. I started to sweat when the box he was pulling them out of started to empty. My chest started to hitch when he only had a few left. I was smart enough to know that someone had to last, but also knew that the chances of it were pretty slim. There are a lot of cousins in my family.

Finally, the box was empty. And I started crying.

Like a little whiner, I started crying.

See why this is embarrassing? Maybe I give too much credit to third graders. I mean, I had already gotten a free ticket to Germany. That’s pretty awesome. I was leaving the next day. Come on, third-year-old me!

My dad laughed and asked what was up, and I, sobbing, told him. Only then did Grandpop reach into the tree and pull out the box that had been hidden there in the branches. I sniffed my boogers back in and opened the box and found, not just a GameBoy (with Killer Instinct included!) but an extra box with that game I had heard so much about. Kirby’s Dream Land.

No lesson was learned, clearly. I’ve already revealed I was just as clingy and lame just a couple years later. I guess I learned that sometimes you should wait a bit before overreacting. I’m also certain that because of those two games I didn’t drive my parents absolutely crazy on that huge, long, drawn-out, snow-filled, ridiculous trip. Also that GameBoys are sturdy as heck. Seriously, that thing would have lasted forever.

There’s a reason we call the original model “the brick”.

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8 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. 8BitRhythm / Aug 7 2011 6:42 PM

    Sturdy enough to withstand a bombing, apparently:
    http://www.doobybrain.com/2008/02/26/this-original-game-boy-survived-the-gulf-war/

    I also had a similar experience like yours, except it was with one of those fancy-schmancy Matchbox playsets, which was hidden in a closet instead of being placed under the Christmas tree outside my field of view. Teared up a bit at the disappointment, but I ended up with a huge grin on my face right afterwards while feeling embarrassed about the whole deal.

    • jwaxo / Aug 7 2011 6:53 PM

      I must just be a standard parent/guardian trick. I mean, look at A Christmas Story, with the beebee gun. To be sure, I’ve never forgotten how I got that gift, now, so maybe that’s it.

  2. Taylor Fisher (@ghalidrim) / Aug 8 2011 9:20 AM

    And the story is told!

    To tell you the truth, I think adults actually want kids to whine like this and set up instances to see them cry about not getting something expected for something better. My grandparents used to give us boxes of socks with G.I. Joes hidden under the socks. Something about children crying then becoming excited on christmas seems to make grandparents happy.

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