Letters to my Sister in Japan — Day 4

Dear Sister,

I just got home from a video game tournament — I know — and it was one I was looking forward to all day.

For the last two weeks or so, I’ve playing my games here and there in an effort to practice for this weekend’s events. There is one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I don’t feel like I’m remotely ready, and I’m not particularly expecting great things out of myself, but then again, I believe it was you that one time said, “He doesn’t really have the Eye of the Tiger.”

I wish I could present oodles of evidence of the grit and nerve that I’m capable of displaying but it is few and far between. I am, regretably and proudly at times: a marshmellow.

Image of me terrorizing New York City

Do you remember all the times I would come running home because I ran my mouth off on some punk on the street — “YOUR MOM!”, I yelled once — and then you’d shake your head in disbelief? I’m such a weenie.

But somehow, I made friends despite being a shitter, and with my friends I ended up enjoying competing in something for years and years.

Do you remember the first time you took me to such an event? It was in 1999 and I asked you to take me to compete in the Pokemon League that was traveling around the United States at the time. The event was at the Fallbrook Mall, and I remember the drive being a very long one, and me not knowing anything except that I thought I could do well because I had some semblance of a plan.

I remember you being annoyed that you basically had to walk around a mall for a few hours while your brother played games, but I also remember how much I enjoyed that drive up and down. I loved listening to Radio Disney with you and the popular radio stations at the time. I even remember the Christina Aguilera interview we listened to. It was the summer or fall right after Genie in a Bottle had been released and I can still imagine myself singing along in the front seat of that van you used to own.

The Pokemon League event itself was a wash. I was assigned a table to play at, and I thought I had the tactics to overcome my opponents. I had calculated statistics and strategic probabilities when I was still only 11 years old, but none of it really matter as my first opponent just abused a particular attack, and made all my planning seem dumb after he had defeated me.

The stickers they handed out

“Is that Pokemon Yellow?” I asked him, after he wiped the floor with me.

“Yeah, I got it in Australia” he answered.

“Oh cool.” I responded.

I don’t think I cried, but I do remember feeling a little empty. Before that experience, I lost at soccer, I lost at some academic prizes, and I lost at Uno against your mother, but some losses hurt a little more than others. I do think that was the first time I ever felt prepared to tackle something and then became completely blindsided by things I could not predict.

Was I sad? Did I cry? Do you remember that?

My next opponent was an older gentleman. At the time it must have looked weird for you to see a guy in his late 20s, early 30s, playing a game across from a child, but then I thought about how just a little over an hour ago I was in playing in a bar with young men in their late teens and early 20s. Life has come full circle.

Genuinely curious: why did you do it? I’m writing a long-form piece on mothers and why they take their kids to Smash Bros. tournaments, and I can’t help but admire the selflessness and love that parents and guardians commit themselves to just to see their children happy. It blows my mind.

I used to think I would be great with kids, and I used to dream about wanting kids, but in confronting my behaviors and my own thoughts, I feel less confident in my ability to give and love unconditionally.

Well, I’ll end this letter now as I should be getting some rest. If I keep up this regimen of writing and practicing (or twiddling my thumbs on plastic), I think I’ll be happier in the long run. It’s nice to work towards something that I enjoy.


Your Little Brother