The Life of a Rob: Part 9

Welcome back to Part 9! We talked about the golden year of 1994, lets move on to 1995… 

With the combination of the darker music that I was now listening too, (One of my idols…) The Undertaker’s dark style, watching more horror movies, playing more violent video games, & my own darkness & inner rage… I started to take on my own dark style & had a love for “the darkness”. …I had turned to the dark side so to speak. I would ONLY wear black clothes. This dark style could be found everywhere. Music, Movies, TV, Video Games, & even wrestling. I think this dark phase was born of my stress, rage, negativity, & other things. I didn’t even know what Gothic was at first. Later I reluctantly refered to it as Goth. I became interested & curious about death. I would rent Traces of Death, Faces of Death, & other VCR tapes of people dying (Yes, they were in video stores). Dressed in all black, I could sit there & watch these gory (real true gore) movies while eating pizza. The real death scenes didn’t bother me or turn my stomach back then. (Nowadays it does)

I started listening to Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse, Marilyn Manson, White Zombie, Ozzy, ect. Stranger & darker stuff. My parents wouldn’t like me doing it, but when they left the house without me, I would dye my hair black from time to time. There was a 99 cent store that I would go to with my Mom sometime. She once caught me with a bag of black nail polish, black lipstick, black eye shadow, black hair dye, earrings, & skulls rings that I had stolen. Try explaining that one to your Christian Mom. I didn’t know how to apply freakin makeup. So I deduced that I wasnt keen on the makeup aspect of it. Yup, the “Goth” phase was an embarrassing one at times. I tried the lipstick once, but didn’t care for it. Mostly because it got on & in everything. I could taste it my food & drink. It got on my hands & clothes. It just wasnt for me. Props to the ladies that put up with it. I would later use the black makeup for Wrestling, but I’m getting ahead of myself again…

But yeah I didn’t own anything that wasnt black. I kinda cringe when I refer to it as Goth, because I don’t feel like I embraced Goth completely. It was a hybrid of Goth/Metal style. I didn’t do the makeup thing. I couldn’t afford the cool jewelry. I didn’t really like being labeled. I didn’t strive to be a Goth per se. I just loved the dark style of it. Jason & Jose started dressing similarly, in all black & they grew their hair out long. I would try, but my parents & Grandparents would give me Hell about it. I also couldn’t tolerate that half long, long chili bowl lookin phase very good.

Lets step back a tad. The first Playstation system released in late 1994. I had been following its progress in magazines for months before hand. There was a video game store in the mall called Electronics Boutique that we would frequent. They had a trade in deal on the PS1 (Sony Playstation). I traded all of my precious Super Nintendo games (But I kept the system) in & added a little cash with it to reserve the PS1 before it released. It was the first time I had gotten a system on day 1. For reserving it, I got a demo disc that was also a music CD. On the disc was a band named KoRn with their song “Blind”. I loved it. I was introduced to KoRn this way before they really made it big.

The graphics on the Playstation were amazing & most games were 3D based. CD based systems were on the rise. I loved that the controller was so similar to the SNES, which is what I was most used to. I also loved the concept of demo discs. There was no such thing as a demo cartridge. I could now try out games before they release! There was an official Playstation magazine that would come with a demo every month. I would steal them out of the magazine package. The first full game that I had was Battle Arena Toshinden. Later that year I would buy or rent games like Twisted Metal, Tekken, Doom, 2Xtreme, Destruction Derby, Kings Field, Warhawk, Worms, Clock Tower, Warcraft 2, Marvel Super Heroes, King of Fighters ’95, & many more. The demo of Jumping Jack Flash even made my stomach queezy. You could jump great heights & it was in 3D. I played the heck out of demos!

Right before the Playstation released as scheduled, the Sega Saturn released without warning! I mean no warning! I didn’t see a release date in any magazines or anything. I guess they wanted to get the jump on Sony’s Playstation. This was Sony’s first system & it was hyped up pretty good. Toys R Us had a demo of it, so I would play Clockwork Knight, Bug, Street Fighter the Movie game & more at Toys R Us. It had great graphics & a cool new “style” of games, but I held strong & waited for the Sony Playstation to release. I was blown away just by a video of Twisted Metal on a demo disc. It was a 3D vehicular combat game with a very dark style. 3D games gave birth to new game genres. On a side note, some years back, the first time I really saw a good 3d game was Virtua Fighter in the Arcade at Putt Putt Golf & Games. It blew my mind & even kinda gave me a headache at first. I knew then video games were headed in an awesome new 3d direction with crisp CD quality sound. Sure there were older 3d attempts, like “Mode 7” games on SNES such as Star Fox, but THIS was nice smooth 3d graphics.

I should also mention Killer Instinct in 1994. Killer Instinct in the arcade blew me away. It had the 6 button controls similar to Street Fighter, but the blood & fatalities of Mortal Kombat, with CRAZY high number combos thrown in on top. It had its own style. I loved it. The background stages were highly animated & scrolled in a 3D way as you walked across it. It was a technological wonder at the time really. The soundtrack was also on another level. The Playstation was in effect, but the SNES still showed that it had some life left in it! Killer Instinct for SNES came with a music CD, Killer Cuts. As corny as it was, I loved it. If I remember right, Killer Instinct sold out on day 1 before I could get a copy. I was pissed that I had to wait a day or 2 to get it. 3rd World problems…

Also in 1995, I saw that Mortal Kombat 3 was going to be released soon in the Arcades! I saw it coming this time in a magazine. The graphics looked very clear & updated. The style was definitely 90s influenced. Pockets & spandex all over the place. But I was amazed & anticipated its release. I think the first time I played it was at a Comic Book shop in Saginaw that I randomly stopped by one day. It introduced a run button, dial-a-combos, & crisp new graphics sound. For some reason it wasnt quite as impactful as MK2 was, but I still loved it! A lot! My cousin Bill & I would go to the Marbles Video & play it for hours. Later that year they released Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 that added more characters & secrets. By this time I was really good. I remember me playing on player 1 side & a line of people standing on the player 2 side. I would beat a lot of people & play for longer with less money. I loved it. What I wouldn’t give for a pic of that. I suppose I wasnt really good at much else at the time.

Cell phones were thick Nokia bricks with tiny ancient screens & you were lucky to have the game Snake or any game on one. Dial up internet was in its infancy. Generally only well off families with computers had access to it. Me & Jason would later go to the Library to get online. It was super slow but we didn’t know any better at the time. It was a plethora of information & you could chat with random people. America Online or Yahoo messenger anyone? But it was also a way to research any of our interests & easily get any video game cheat codes or strategy. This thing was amazing. We would ride the city bus & spend hours at the Library online. Later came Web TV where you could get online on any TV. Best Buy had a demo & we would also mess with that for long periods of time.   

Cell phones really weren’t being used much yet. They were terribly expensive. Pagers were all the rage. I remember saving for one & paying $1.99 per month at Beep 199 for one. Somewhere around this time, my step Dad Frank got a settlement for hurting himself on the job. I don’t know how much money it was, but we were suddenly hood rich. It was amazing. My Mom got us out of our Hell hole of a house & we moved to a 2 story town house apartment in Saginaw. I wasnt used to living comfortable in central ac & heat, with soft carpet that felt good on your feet. All of our appliances worked. It wasnt dirty. It didn’t smell like dead animals. The toilet was clean & not falling through the floor. We all had more space to ourselves. The neighborhood was good. You werent woke up by gunshots & vehicles bumping loud bass every hour of the night. We always had decent food. We didn’t have to lock our snacks up in tubs due to rats & roaches. Youre telling me this is how normal families live?

But deep down, I knew that it was probably temporary. No one was working & Franks checks couldn’t support this forever. But my Mom wanted good things for us for at least a little while. My Mom took us on a small shopping spree at Best Buy. They bought me a new TV, a Sega Saturn, & some games. I now had 3 freakin systems! PS1, Sega Saturn, & a SNES. Some of the games that I liked on Saturn was Guardian Heroes, Panzer Dragoon 1 & 2, Theme Park, Virtua Fighter 1 & 2, Fighters Megamix, Die Hard Arcade, X-Men Children of the Atom, & more. It was great, but the bad thing was… I would have to go back to school… in a school where I didn’t know a single soul. Shit… Well this is where Bill comes in. (He now goes by another name, I’ll call him Bill.) 

Ok… let me tell you about Bill… There were a lot of things regarding Bill that would violate his privacy & embarrass him, so I’ll try to respect his privacy at least a little here. A little while after we had moved to our comfy town house, I would frequent the local Video Store, Blazing Video in Saginaw. Well one day im in there looking for a game to rent & there was this weird mofo looking at SNES games. White guy, very skinny, almost my height, a tad older looking, glasses, nerdy, kinda ratty clothes… Anyway, out of the blue he gets chatty with me & keeps going on about certain games. He heavily suggests that I rent a game called Chrono Trigger for SNES. At this point I wasnt into RPGs very much. The only one that I had liked was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past on SNES.

Zelda was different. It was an action RPG, which played more… seamless. Zelda had RPG elements, but there was also puzzles & had a more “hands on” action type of gameplay. Most other RPGs had battles that were menu based. Zelda was seamless on the fly. More fast paced. So despite Bills praises, I kinda blew Chrono Trigger off at first & ended up renting something else. Bill mentioned that he only had a SNES. I had recently acquired a Playstation & Sega Saturn in addition to me SNES. Bill was amazed. He hadn’t played a Playstation or Saturn yet. He damn near begged to come over to my house. I thought it was a little sudden, but I didn’t mind. I could use a local friend that was into video games. I was seeing my old friends a little less after moving. So I asked my Mom & she said she didn’t mind but she didnt want to have to bring him back. Bill offered to walk home, even though I lived at least 5 miles from his house…

(EDIT: Previously I mentioned that my Mom had let her car sit & rot for years. Well my memory has failed me. She actually was driving it at this time. Later she would let it sit & rot, but during this time, she was still driving. Sorry for the confusion.)

So, Bill came over… & he wouldn’t leave… We played video games late into the night. Bill ended up staying the night & my Mom took him home the next day. Bill was a little older than me & he smoked cigarettes. My room was on the 2nd floor & my Moms room was right across the hall from mine. My Mom was extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke. My Mom truly has the senses of a Bloodhound. Well Bill didn’t want to go all the way down the stairs & outside to smoke, so we had the bright idea of hanging Bill halfway out of the 2nd story window so he could smoke. Well a small particle of smoke somehow resisted the outdoor wind current, floated with confidence across my room, stealthily dipped under my door, tiptoed across the hallway, ducked under my Moms door, floated with staggering willpower across her room, & ceremoniously touched down on my Moms super human nose receptor…

My Mom came storming into my room. Bill damn near fell out of the window. I leaped far away from his ass & onto my bed so maybe she wouldn’t think I was smoking. She was pissed but she let Bill stay. Later I got a lovely lecture about the dangers of smoking from my Mom. Bill was hard-headed & you could hardly persuade him to do anything. He had quite the unique personality. Sometimes I would spend the night at his house. His room was pretty damn dirty & he shared it with one of his brothers. Bills hygiene was absolutely terrible to say the least. I could comment A LOT more on this, but I wont. It was really bad. Bill lived with his real Dad & step Mom, 3 blood brothers, 2 step brothers, 1 step sister, & 1 half-brother. Later I would get to know them all better.

Bill was the only one in his family that had extremely terrible hygiene by the way. The house was crowded. Bill didn’t live under quite as many rules as I did. He smoked in his room. He roamed Saginaw any hour of the night he pleased. Almost everyone smoked cigarettes & some of them smoked weed (I wont mention who). It was the first time I had so much contact with weed. It had come around on occasion elsewhere, but it was abundant here. This later became the gateway for me to try all manner of drugs, but im getting ahead of myself. I must also be somewhat vague on the details as to respect their privacy. Also, school was starting soon. I was dreading the Hell out of it. I had been home schooled the previous year. I didn’t know what to expect out of Saginaw High School.

Also, on a side note, it turns out my Grandma chose a home school course that was not recognised by the school board, so I would have to start in the 9th grade as opposed to the 10th grade. Doh! All of my other main friends were still going to North Side High having their own adventures. Bill however went to Saginaw High, aka Boswell High School. Again, Bill was at least 4 years older than me, but I think he had flunked several times? The reason that he was still in school was some crazy mess that he explained but I have since forgotten. So I started Boswell High in late 1995 or early 96. My memory isn’t so great these days. I usually use video games as a chronological marker. I have to think back to what I was playing when these events happened, in order to determine the year.  

Before we get into High School stories, & speaking of my old friends… Jason & Jose would frequently spend the night. My Mom was really cool about getting them & letting them spend the night just about every weekend. I’m sure they both loved it because we had central ac & heat, lots of snacks, I had a lot of video games, & we didn’t get to hang out as often. I remember Jose spending the night once… Well puberty was in full effect & I had more than a handful of porno mags that I had secretly acquired from various stores. Im not sure about nowadays but back then, you could walk into most ghetto gas stations & buy a porno mag no age check required.

Well Jose was spending the night & I had fallen asleep already. Jose had all of my nudie mags spread out all over my floor & he fell asleep with them laying about everywhere… I mean EVERYWHERE. All over the whole room, tons of em. Well were sleeping & the next morning my Mom walks in, waking us up talking about breakfast or something… I wake up to notice Jose had a paper orgy of mags lying about. I sit up stunned in fear not sure what to do. Jose could give no fucks slowly waking up. We awkwardly chat about breakfast or whatever it was. I’m trying to talk my Mom quickly out of the room. So without saying a word about the magazines my Mom leaves. Surely with her super human senses, my Mom had noticed the room was covered in porno mags. I figured either she was going to give me a lecture about it later, but she never did. She never mentioned it. Either she had somehow not noticed what they were or she didn’t want to touch that subject with a 10 foot pole.

So I’m irritated as Hell that Jose left this smorgasbord of titties & vag laying out. He’s just laughing his ass off. He still tells this story to this day. I havent spoke on Jose much, but he was also one of my best friends. I spent the night a lot at his house playing video games also. Jose was always real competitive. We would verse off in many games over the years. Jason loved games but he didn’t seem quite as competative in 2 player games. Jason would get irritated if he lost a lot & would stop playing. Jose would never quit. I could sit there & beat on him for hours & he’d never quit. It was great. In Saginaw, we would stay up for nights on end playing Twisted Metal versus each other. Before that we would fight each other for hours on all of the Mortal Kombats.

I remember back in the day we took Jose to Furrs to eat once. He said it was the first time that he had eaten at a “sit down” restaurant like that. His family would either cook or occasionally eat fast food. On the way there I was giving him Hell & making him nervous. I told him that he had to know the proper placement of silverware & proper dinning etiquette. It was great. After we got there & I explained how a Furrs buffet worked, he pigged out. He stacked the plates up as much, if not more than me & my appetite was legendary. I’ve never seen anyone put away so much roast beef with natural gravy. Furrs became a staple of going out to eat for a long time. If my Mom had the money & they didnt she would usually pay for them. But sometimes my Mom didnt have the money. She would tell me to sneak them some food & if we got caught to tell the Furrs employees that they were just tasting it. Yeah, im not sure how that would play out…

Jason was pretty good about keeping it hid, but Jose gave no fucks. Jose is legendary on not giving fucks about anything. Not in a negative way, but he just doesnt stress ANYTHING. If he does, he doesnt show it. Jose would just reach across the table & grab food with no fear. Miraculously, we never got caught. However, years later we tried to do it with Bill & we got caught. I had to pay for Bill. sigh. Speaking of, the first time Jason ever met Bill, Jason had to pay for Bills food. Jason was not pleased. Bill would suggest that we go eat & then after sitting down, he would announce that he was broke. He tried this tactic many times over the years. I dont know how many times ive payed for Bills food over the years. Ok, I think ive rambled enough for the moment. Next time… High School days! 




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