Landing on top

Posted by on 01.30.10 | 3 Comments
Filed Under Uncategorized

It’s really silly.

But it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

While we grew up, Mom was pretty strict about how much time my brothers, my
sister, and I spent watching TV or playing video games or the like. So, like
all things limited, when you get a chance to indulge, you want things to be as
good as they can get. In our case, for a formative while – my brother and I
thought that this was the Atari 7800. And especially the game of “Joust.”

It’s a really weird game. Here’s the premise (Thanks, Wikipedia):

The player controls a knight armed with a lance, mounted on either
an ostrich
(player 1) or a stork
(player 2), who battles waves of computer-controlled enemy knights mounted on
giant buzzards.
These knights have three different speed and agility levels. The game screen is
static; its only features are five platforms hanging in mid-air (some wrapping
around the screen), the ground, and a pit of lava beneath.

Yes. Yes. We liked nothing better
than to play a game where we were knights jousting on top of giant birds,
destroying the “bad knights” and the eggs (yes, there were eggs) that they laid
before the eggs became more bad knights. And you want to know how this
translated on the screen? If you “jousted” head on and equally, you would
bounce off each other, but to get the upper hand, literally, you simply had to
land on top of the flying evil knight. But really, beyond all that amazing
adventure, you want to know the best part of the game? The part that we loved
most of all?

It was a two-player game in which you could….wait for it….destroy your teammate
as well.


Oh ho!!!! An adventure where you
were not only having to keep your fast flying ostrich out of the lava pits and
knocking over evil eggs and landing on top of evil knights flying buzzards, but

I’m telling you. This was a good
game for us.

And I can’t remember exactly when,
but let’s say when I was in my late-20s and my brother was in his late-20′s,
and all this was ancient ostrich knight history, he gifted me an Atari 7800.
With about 30 games. Individually wrapped. Not only that, but it turns out that
he wrapped them all the day he had to stay home with a bad head cold. I’m telling you, big brother landed on top of
his kid sister and knocked her over with this one.

I was reminded of the whole system
last night. It’s been in a box since I moved into my house five years ago (a 100-year old
house! To fix up!). But I got it out last night, to try to hook to the
TV….which promptly fell over. Landed on top of it. And smashed it into 7800 pieces. Looks like the TV wins this joust.


(As a side note: to add insult to
injury, as I picked up the TV this morning, and swept up all the plastic bits,
I had been using my drill to reinforce the screws on the TV stand, and in one
fell Rube Goldbergian motion, stepped on a ripple in the rug, knocked over the
drill, which hit my cup of coffee, spilling it in a fantastic spray all over
the carpet. But well, someone had to do it.)

So there it is. And as I pick it
up and mop it up, I’m actually really enjoying all over again the gift that is
was to me and the spirit in which that gift was given. I can’t imagine a clearer
way for brother to have sent all the messages that he sent. Each individually
wrapped package.

“I love you.”

“It was
so amazing to have enjoyed so much of each other growing up.”

“You and I will
always share this silly sense of humor and laugh harder than anyone else in the
family at crazy games like this, because we somehow have always understood each
other at that level.”

There’s about 30 messages along these lines in this box
of dusty technology.

And I can wrap and unwrap them any
time I want.



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