This post is to continue a series that I started a while back on how my flawed ways of viewing the world as a child carried over into my thoughts and actions later in life. Previously, I mentioned that as a child I erroneously thought that people could universally claim sanctuary in places of worship, and that Jerry Seinfeld was a robot monster.
I also thought that I caused tectonic motion with my Nintendo.
I was a kid who grew up on video games, before video games started having complicated controllers with a hundred buttons and graphics so clear and realistic you can see the birthmark on the heroine’s protuberant cleavage.
I was an owner of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, NES, and the Super Mario Brothers games were my favorite.
It was fairly common to spend what could be considered the length of a work day to most adults taking turns with friends at two-player games, with Super Mario Brothers and no other game.
One day in the summer, I sat on the floor of my family’s living room with two neighborhood friends, playing the first Super Mario Brothers game to be released on NES.
It was my turn. I controlled Mario. People whose house it is don’t have to be Luigi. I was playing in the first world, second level. The dark level that takes place in a cave and has dark music and grayish blue bricks and an echo.
A pro, I passed the level the secret way—a secret everyone knew—by breaking the overhead bricks that bordered the top of the screen and making Mario walk across them to the end.
I reached the secret Warp Zone.
Given the choice of skipping the remainder of World 1 to warp to World 2, 3, or 4, I was greedy and ambitious enough to choose World 4. The most difficult of the three worlds, and the one that would help me reach the end of the game the fastest. The one where in the first level, that asshole bad guy sits up in a cloud hovering above Mario, following him around and dropping spiky creatures on him that can only be killed with a Fire Flower.
I moved Mario toward the green pipe with the ‘4’ above it. I made him jump. He stood above the pipe. I eagerly took the plunge; I pushed the down button to make Mario enter the pipe to World 4.
At that instant, the floor jerked, and then there was a rattle throughout the house. The floor shook slightly, and then the shaking increased. The cupboards in the kitchen fell open and then slammed themselves repeatedly. The dishes and cups clattered together.
My friends and I jumped to our feet from the floor and ran to hide underneath the dining table. Rocking, I held tightly onto one of the table legs to keep my tiny frame from flying out from where I was kneeling on the unstable floor.
Eventually, the shaking stopped. A few last jolts from the aftershocks, and then the ground went quiet. We gingerly emerged again.
I was plagued with fear and guilt. I had made a grave, Icarian mistake. My pride had been tested, and I had failed. I had flown too close to the sun, and with the melting of the wax affixing my wings, I had fallen. I should have known that if I wanted to reach World 4, I had to work for it. I had to earn it by playing all the levels from the beginning of World 1. No taking shortcuts with warping.
My reaction to these events was avoidance. I wasn’t sure whether it was okay to play Nintendo again right away. In due course I went back, trying other games. And then for a while, I played Super Mario Brothers, but I just didn’t want to play World 4. After several months, I came around to test warping to World 2, and to World 3, but never to World 4. Warping to World 4 caused earthquakes.
I’m not sure when I finally gathered the courage to try warping to World 4 again, but it was only when I held my breath and warped and an earthquake didn’t subsequently happen that I was able to remove this causality from my brain.