The Life of a Rob: Part 5

Welcome to Part 5! I’ve had a handful of people tell me they’re reading this & I just want to say thanks again. It feels good to get it out & that people are actually interested. I wasn’t sure if they would be.

Id like to take a sec to talk about how growing up in a bad area conditions your mind & your whole train of thought. In school we were taught (by the other kids & even some grown ups) getting good grades or being a nerd is bad & makes you “a pussy”. We were taught if you took any shit talking without fighting the person doing the shit talking, you were “a pussy”. Everyone fought fire with fire. Negativity was everywhere. Hate was everywhere. Bad attitudes were everywhere. If you didn’t have a bad attitude, you might be “a pussy”. If people thought you were “a pussy”, you would get mercilessly picked on & beat up. And I mean beat till you were a bloody mess sometimes. This was especially bad for newcomers that weren’t ready or used to it & were thrown in the lake of fire. You have to either sink or swim. It conditions the mind to be negative & spread negativity to everyone around you. This type of negativity makes you miserable & everyone around you miserable. This type of negativity helps to keep you from succeeding in life. However, it make you a great criminal & sometimes an asshole.  

Ok. Back to my story. 1991. I had just gotten a hand injury during an attempted robbery against me. What kind of person points a gun at a kid & tries to rob them? Apparently there are a lot of these types of people. Don’t get me wrong though, I do like Fort Worth now that I’ve grown up. It’s where I was raised. Also, sprinkled about these hard times were good times. It wasn’t 100% of a shit storm. I had friends, we had fun. I had fun playing video games. I had fun seeing my family on occasion. I didn’t starve or die some other way. Sometimes I look back & im amazed that I made it out alive & that I’m not in prison. Although there were close calls for both…

The year is now 1992. 7th grade. Jason was now in Kirkpatrick Middle School with me. This was the time we started to get a lot closer. He was basically “a looser” like us. He was immediately sucked into our clique of bruised & abused gamer geeks. It was mostly me, Jason, Quincy, Cody, & Victor (Different Victor than the bully kid). Sometimes this other kid named Nick. If I remember right, Me, Jason, Cody, & Nick were the only white boys in our school & grade. Cody was the biggest so he got picked on the least from what I remember. The rest of us got it pretty regularly. This was the golden year though! The release of Mortal Fucking Kombat…

I remember the very first time I saw it. I was at Six Flags Theme Park in Arlington Texas. I didn’t go to Six Flags often at all, this was maybe my 2nd time I’ve ever been at this point. It was a very special occasion to go to Six Flags. Leave it to me to spend time in an arcade at a theme park… Anyway, There she was… the Mortal Kombat Arcade sitting there. I first noticed was that it was a fighting game like Street Fighter, but it had insane photo realistic graphics. I was used to the cartoony Street Fighter graphics. This was an upgrade. They blew my mind. The sound was also vicious & intense with a dark asian feel. The next thing I noticed was the amount of blood spraying from the character when they got hit. I was shocked & amused. Street Fighter had very small amounts of blood. I’m not sure why, but the blood was a big draw for me. I played it a bit & I was terrible. It had a weird button layout & a block button. On Street Fighter, you would pull in the opposite direction of your opponent to block. I liked this better because you could block without walking backward. Also the game would say “Finish Him!”, when you defeated your opponent, so you got to get another hit in as added insult. Or that’s what I thought it was for anyway…

After getting beat a bunch & the game ate my precious quarters, it happened… The computer controlled character Sonya beat me. The game said “Finish Him!”. I was already reaching for my next quarter. Suddenly the screen turned darker & it played a drum like sound I had never heard before. She blew some kind of flame kiss at my character & I was quickly burned to a crisp. My characters charred skeleton fell to his knees. MIND… WAS… FUCKING… BLOWN… This game had shocked me like no game ever before. I was almost scared at what I had seen. It was surreal. Such murderous violence in a game. Was that suppose to happen? I stared at the screen in silence, wide eyes, with my hand in my pocket, stunned. I didn’t know whether to step away from this mysterious game of murder or laugh in amazement. I had fallen in love with a damn object. THIS was my new favorite game & would remain so for many years.

After seeing her Fatality, I was trying to get better with Sonya while I was there. Every now & then I would pull a special secret move off by mistake. I became almost obsessed. I must have played it for over an hour on my limited quarters & watched the screen run by itself & I watched others play. I think I got to see a few more Fatalities before I left. I knew this would be my new obsession for a while. I couldn’t wait to play it & get better & learn more about it. I had so many questions. When was it coming home to Super Nintendo, how watered down would it be? Well after a while, I figured I should stop playing & enjoy this day at Six Flags & ride some rides. The next day back at school I sat down at the table our clique usually sat at. I couldn’t wait to tell the others about it. Before I could say anything, Jason was already on it. Going on about this new Mortal Kombat game. He had found it at Take it Home Video, or Pancho’s, or somewhere also. I was like, “Fuck yeah! I played it too!”. It was the excited hot topic of the day. Weird rumors & secrets were already starting to spread about the game. I think both me & Jason commenced to drawing Mortal Kombat characters in class for a while after that.  

So I found out that Mortal Kombat was at Take It Home Video & Pancho’s Mexican Buffet near my house. It was on. I would go play every chance I got. I liked every character, but my favorite was Scorpion at first (of course). I would try to draw Scorpion & Sub Zero at school. I wasn’t good at drawing the other characters faces. I was pretty decent at drawing, but Jason was even better than me. We would show each other our drawings & other kids would make fun of us. They thought the characters were drawings of X-Men & so they would call us X-Men… Trying to insult us probably, but in my head that was a cool thing to be called. I loved the X-Men cartoon & the games. I really hadn’t started to read comics at this time yet, but I knew that’s where they originated. Anyway, 1992 was the year of Mortal Kombat. I think because my life was so stressful, this entertainment was intensified. It was also a great escape from the constant stresses in life. Maybe the only real escape. Video Games would remain to be a stress reliever & escape for me to this very day. There were times when it was the only real way for me to relax or unwind. I still find this true to a point today. One thing I don’t think people know is, video games were more than just entertainment to me. Most people play video games & be mildly entertained as they would listening to music or watching a movie. This was different for me. This was a much higher & stronger thing for me. This was a true escape & state of euphoria. It produced dopamine in my brain like nothing else of this Earth. I didn’t realize until later that it was also an addiction…

1992 was also the beginnings of me really getting into music. Which would also become another way for me to somewhat escape. It wasnt as interactive or submerssive as video games, but I began to love & buy music. I had a portable cassette player. One of the first real albums that I bought was Dr. Dre The Chronic. I wore that cassette out. I would later learn to love almost all forms of music, but in 1992… Gangster Rap was my shit. I also bought Cypress Hill Black Sunday. I would quote the unedited versions at school & earn “cool points”. Which I could use to redeem for a please don’t pick on me for at least this period. I started to man up to bullies a little & also hang out with cool kids just a bit so bullying slowed down a little. Jason & the others in our looser clique still got it off & on & that bothered me. I started to slack on my grades & act up in class a lot to earn cool points also. I started to skip class a little. Later on I would skip a lot of classes.

I think it was about this time that me, Jason, & Cody really started hanging out after school. All of our houses were pretty much in walking range. Cody lived maybe 4 blocks away & Jason lived about 5 blocks away. Rough ghetto terrain, but walkable. I saw a Mexican guy get stabbed outside of a bar walking from Jason’s one night. I got chased by dogs a handful of times. People loved to talk shit & throw stuff at the white boy while driving by. Sometimes it would be all 3 of us hanging out, sometime it would be just 2 of us. If I remember right, Cody was the first to get a SNES, so we spent a lot of time at his house. He had games like Super Mario World, Street Fighter, Final Fight, & Gradius 3. I would spend the night at his house often & stay up literally all night & play while everyone else slept. As long as this Super Nintendo was in my grasp, everything else was put on the back burner. Food, sleep, you name it. I left this world & was engulfed in a 16 bit world of wonder & euphoria. 

On Saturday nights however, Cody’s Parents would tell me that I had to go to church with them Sunday morning if I spent the night. They went to some church other than The Church of Christ, which is what I grew up with, so that alienated me a bit. Secondly, I hated going to Church. Especially strange Churches with Cody’s family. I would agree to their terms but I had an exit plan. Mwahaha… I would beg my Mom to come get me early Sunday mornings before they left. I would reiterate over & over to my Mom to please be there early. There were a few close calls, but she did. Well after about the 4th time of doing this, Cody’s parents got wise to my tricks. They said no more escapes. If I wanted to spend the night I would have to go to church. I again agreed. Come Sun morning, I told Cody I was gonna make a break for it & I slipped out the front door & ran my ass home. Well them suckers showed up at my house!

They knocked. I hid. My Mom answered the door. Cody’s Dad was like, “Were here to get Rob. He said he wanted to go to Church with us.” My Mom was like, “Oh that’s good. Let me get him.” I pleaded with my Mom to come up with a story as if Hitler was at the door asking to take me away. My Mom was never keen to lying & was getting irritated. I think I ended up saying I was sick or something. Well damn… I can’t stay at Cody’s house on Sat nights anymore because Hallelujah cometh to bore my very soul in the morn… 

 

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