I held it together for a little while. In the least, I was able to nod and "uh-huh" my way through my Dad explaining how an N64 was too expensive and that it was something that would have to wait. At some point though, I snapped. I can't remember what the breaking point was and, honestly, it doesn't really matter. What matters is the fact that I, a ten year old boy who had just gotten a Super Nintendo, two PC games, and a bunch of other nice things for Christmas, exploded at my father like a two year-old throwing a tantrum in a cereal aisle.
To describe my Dad as surprised would have been a profound understatement. I'd had my moments before, to be sure. I wasn't the most horribly spoiled kid in the world, but I'd always been a bit sensitive and prone to dramatics. This, however, was an entirely different level of freak out. This wasn't me tearing up a bit because I'd gotten knocked out in mum ball. This was me screaming at him in a fit of pure rage. Every hateful thing I could think to spew at him I did. I went out of my way to hit him with every nasty insult and accusation that my young mind could come up with.
And I still regret it seventeen years later. Nothing else I did as a child has left me feeling guiltier.
To be fair to myself, I do think there are mistakes that my Dad made. Even if I made the wrong assumptions about his "we'll see" response, I do believe he could have been more direct with me. This wasn't something I asked him about once and then never spoke of again. I expressed on multiple occasions in the run-up to Christmas how excited I was about the Nintendo 64 and how much I wanted one. If he couldn't get me one, I probably would have handled my disappointment better if he'd just told me "no" and didn't let me get my hopes up.
It might just be hindsight, but I also think there was more going on in the background that I wasn't thinking about at the time. I love my Dad and I wouldn't wish for anyone else to be my father. The thing is, I spent the better part of my childhood pretty much convinced that he would have been happier with a different son. He and I just never had very much in common. He grew up with a love of the outdoors and being active. My grandmother could write a book about all the insane and stupid things he did playing outside.
I was almost the complete opposite; shy and something of a shut-in. And while he would later tell me I was wrong, I frequently felt like I as a letdown to him. He would never have said anything to me directly, but I could see the disappointment on his face every time I'd rather play a video game than go on some adventure in the woods or go for a bike ride. To be given ice skates instead of my Nintendo 64, whatever legitimate reasons he might have had, probably felt like another jab from a man that I already suspected didn't like me.
None of this, of course, excuses how I acted. Not getting a new video game console was far from a tragedy. And while I felt completely justified in my outrage back then, it's still hard for me to look back on it without feeling ashamed. What's hardest for me is how cruel I was to my Dad. My parent's divorce hit him hard, and I'm pretty sure the last thing he needed, even a year later, was his son screaming at him on Christmas over a Nintendo. I look at my own daughter now and I can't even imagine how heartbroken I'd be if she were to treat me with the sort of contempt that I treated him with.
The kicker of it all is that he eventually got me a Nintendo 64. When we tried to install the games he bought me for his PC, we couldn't get them to work. So, a few weeks after Christmas, we made a trip out to Toys R Us to return them and get some store credit. I, still feeling righteous and indignant, spent the entire visit camped out in the video game section looking at the N64s. He saw what I was looking at and, with a sigh, told me I could have one if I forfeited my allowance for the next year. I went home that day with a console and copy of Star Fox 64. A month later our house was broken into and both were stolen. Remember that the next time you think there's no justice in the universe.
Come back next week for Marshall Lemon's review of Beyond Good & Evil! In the mean time, feel free to PM us comments and suggestions for future reviews!