(Related posts: Days 22, 36, and 40)
By the ripe age of 10 I had learned through experience that any and all interactions with my brother would be unsavory and ultimately end in violence. This precocious acumen presented a unique conundrum: the sensible course would be to regard my elder sibling as a necessary unpleasantness and avoid him at all costs, however I was also aware that to shun him would insult and anger him and draw his protracted and indelible spite. Catch 22. It was easier to resign myself to his immediate wrathful outbursts. Pain is, after all, temporary.
So when my lonely brother resorted to actually asking me to play our home videogame system with him (the awesome Bally Astrocade), I entered into the arrangement with much dread, and was wary of the inexorable bloody conclusion.
The game in question was The Wizard of Wor, an action oriented game that required 2 players to play concurrently and collaboratively. 2 ingredients for failure.
His tongue poking from the side of his mouth like a gorged and bloated leech, my brother sweatily manoeuvered his 8-bit avatar Worrior through the 2 dimensional maze, his entire body spasmdically leaning into his every movement, screaming at me to 'Cover him' and 'Get his back', as he blasted the rapidly encroaching pixilated evil Worluks. His excitement reached a near rapturous state as he was upgraded to a Worlord and his score slowly neared his personal best, a highscore he had fervently, obsessively been trying to surpass daily for 6 months.
As long as he held the controller in his meaty hands he wasn't able to give me an Indian Rug Burn, so I quietly cooperated. But my time was running out, he was down to his last man, sweating profusely and breathing heavily. Outside of wailing on me daily this was the most exercise he had had in years. His inarticulate screams increased in direct correlation with each level we advanced. He had stopped blinking altogether and was now standing at attention, rhythmically hopping from bare foot to bare foot like some backwoods voodoo high-priest. He was crazed. And he was only a handful of points away from beating his elusive high-score.
For 2 blissful hours I was not the victim of physical torment, his energy and aggression instead focussed on his video assailants. But I was not to be completely forgotten. In his desperation he resorted to unsuccessfully trying to kill my guy, Player 2, in an attempt to accrue a few more points, even though I had been acting as his cooperative partner, trying to help him reach his goal. Mercenary bastard!
I knew that once the game ended I would once again be the focus of his ire. I had not earned a reprieve by being an active participant in his efforts. I was still going to get pummeled. Such was my lot in life. It was the Universal Bane of the Younger Sibling. So if the predestined outcome was immutable, why not make it worth while? My brother had 4 years and 75 lbs on me. I knew that I couldn't yet best him physically, so I took opportunities for revenge and delayed retaliation whenever and however they presented themselves. And this, my friends, was a prime opportunity indeed.
He was so incredibly focussed on the one last single kill that would achieve the desired score that had all but consumed him, that he paid no heed as the video version of me casually walked up behind him and vaporized his last man.
He never did beat his high-score.
Payback is a bitch.
Unfortunately payback of a payback is a much bigger, much more painful bitch.