Fatherhood: Dad vs. Zelda

by Sam Harper


boy playing computer games
image © Corbis. All rights reserved.

It started three years ago when Henry, my eldest son, asked if Santa could please bring him SuperNintendo for Christmas. I turned off the TV, brought my Lay-Z-Boy to the full upright position and with no small quantity of rigid indignation told him that we would never, EVER have video games in our house. The Harpers would be readers, and artists, and athletes! Life is short, I barked. Tomorrow we die! We would not burn our precious hours on Earth slack-jawed, frantically working our thumbs to get the Mario Brothers through a computer-generated tenement! As Henry walked away he grumbled, I hope I came from Moms gene pool.

Months passed. Neighboring families fell to the video game onslaught, but I proudly held the line in our house, thunderously squashing seditious requests for Rush, Quake, and Mario Cart. But during that long hard winter, I met my match in a woman. And her name was Zelda

The downfall occurred when I was picking up Henry at a birthday party. When I dropped Henry off, the yard was charged with male energy, but now it was empty. Smeared cake plates and shredded gift-wrapping rustled in a chilly wind. Where were the celebrants? I found Henry sitting on swing in a corner of the yard, head hanging, nudging Piata remains with the toe of his shoe. Whats up, bud? I asked. He didnt even look up. He just pointed to the house.

I found the other boys gathered around the big screen inside. The birthday boy was playing Zelda, a video game involving an elf or something who is going somewhere to do something to Zelda, who is a queen-goddess or something. The boys were mesmerized. Play the perilu of light! Warp to the time castle! Grab the decunut! they screamed. Not only were they totally into it, but they were apparently fluent in this new video-language. And there was my son, outside. Alone. On a swing. Twisting in the wind.

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Copyright © 1999 Sam Harper
All rights reserved.