“The life of the party…“
On the Christmas of 1997 (so I was about 10), my mother went to visit her sister, my aunt Annette. My cousin Georgie was about five at the time and had just finished opening his Christmas gifts, a brand new Sony Playstation and two games, Resident Evil and Parappa the Rapper. Now like I said, Georgie was about five and surely didn’t understand the complexity of a game like Resident Evil, hell at the time I didn’t, but I was the older cousin and I had a Super Nintendo of my own at home, so I volunteered to spend the night and help Georgie with his new games. I’m not afraid to admit it, that night, I hogged the controller. I was so hooked on the Playstation that there was no way I could go back home to my crappy Super Nintendo. Resident Evil was scary as hell but it looked so cool! I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I think I just wandered around the mansion of the game until something happened. The entire time, Georgie laid next to me in the bed and watched. When something scary would happen, he’d tuck his head in the blanket, and when I died, he would always tell me that I should go another way next time. Parappa the Rapper was just as fun. I would at least let Georgie attempt a round or two, but neither of us could figure out how to beat the first level. My one night at Georgie’s house turned into my entire Christmas vacation. I was there the whole week. When I had to go home because of school, I was so upset. I promised Georgie I would be back for the weekend. That first week was the longest week of my life, all I could think about was the Playstation, Resident Evil, and Parappa the Rapper. But when I got to Georgie’s house that weekend, he had already beaten Parappa the Rapper without me… the kid was a five year old prodigy.
I wasn’t upset that Georgie had figured out how to beat a game before me, even if he was five. I was more upset that I wasn’t there when he did. I made him promise that we would play and beat Resident Evil together. Mostly because I didn’t want him to play or beat that game without me. Every weekend I spent the night at my aunt’s house. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, my uncle George, Georgie’s father, would send me to the corner store to buy him a newspaper. It’s actually why I wanted to write for a newspaper to begin with. When my uncle George was done with the paper, he would let me read it, and I just found it so fascinating that all of New York City’s daily stories, was compiled in one place and distributed over night, every night. I wanted to write those stories, tell them. And I have to say it’s all because of my Uncle George. But when I wasn’t reading the newspaper, I was definitely playing Georgie’s Playstation.
As the weeks went by, and the more I was there, me and Georgie grew close. I didn’t hog the controller from him as much. When I went to the store, he would come with me. When wrestling was on, we would pretend to be wrestlers and wrestle. When it was late, we would sneak into the kitchen and have ice cream or microwave White Castle hamburgers. As the years went by, I spent as much time at my aunt and uncles house as I did my own. Georgie got older and so did our love of videogames. We eventually beat Resident Evil 1 and 2. Mastered the 900 in Tony Hawks Pro Skater. Figured out how to escape the tiger cave in Tomb Raider 2. And when the Playstation 2 was eventually released, Georgie and I dominated that too. We beat Grand Theft Auto Vice City with no Memory Card! Georgie became like my little brother. Videogames were our connection, it’s what we loved to do, still love to do.
As I got older and because of high school and college, I stopped visiting as much. But whenever there’s a new game or system out, I never hesitate to call Georgie first. The moment I got a Playstation 5 per-order, I texted him. The majority of the retro games I collect today are mostly because they remind me of the time I spent with my little cousin. I have mint copies of both Resident Evil and Parappa the Rapper both in case protectors on my wall. When I got married, I knew that I wanted Georgie as a groomsman. It was a great choice too because he really was the life of the party. He danced all night, introduced himself to all of Heather’s family (I think even made new Facebook friends), and whenever I looked over at him, he generally looked really happy for me, and happy to be next to me. I will never take those nights we spent trying to beat videogames together for granted. Besides my baby brother July, till the day I’m dead in the ground and my game is over, Georgie will forever be my other baby brother.