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Another Day in the Country

Stay in the bubble, Baba!

© Another Day in the Country

For Christmas, my grandson got a new version of Mario games that had something to do with a cat. Since I’m not very familiar with the genre, the addition of a cat suit was not such a thrill to me as it was to a 9-year-old boy.

“Baba, play this game with me,” he pleaded.

Once again, I reminded him that his Baba is really a novice with video games.

“It’s OK,” he said with a grin, “I’ll help you. I have special powers.”

He is good, amazingly good, at any game that has to do with punching buttons, moving levers, and shaking controls around.

I’d tucked into my suitcase a deck of cards that had a picture of Santa on the back side. They looked festive. I tried to interest him in any kind of card game.

“What about rummy?”

He gamely tried but wasn’t particularly thrilled. Numbers didn’t hold a ghost of a chance of being as exciting as owl looking things that could kill you and bombs and polka dot mushrooms.

Even quarters couldn’t intrigue him for more than a few minutes as I tried to teach him blackjack.

“You can keep the quarters you win,” I coaxed.

Real money held little interest. Gold coins on the Mario game were so exciting to gather, and high scores at the end of the game were just enthralling.

Obviously, the high scores weren’t going to be mine. I was doing well to figure out how to control the little guy in the cat suit.

“Give me a minute,” I called out. “This thing keeps running into walls.”

Once again, Dagfinnr (that’s my grandson, as you may recall) would explain how to use the two controls I held in my hands. Two controls? I would have been doing well to figure out one!

“They each do different things,” the child explained to the senior citizen. “The X controls which way you go, and then this little lever will put you in a bubble to get you out of trouble. You punch ‘A’ to jump and this lever to go faster. Got it?”

“Got it?” You can only imagine my bewilderment.

“No, I don’t, but I’ll try.”

He assured me with childlike faith that indeed I would be fine, that we could go slowly, and that this would be fun.

Playing those games was certainly a lesson in humility. I could hear little clings of coins collecting as he fought off bad guys while I was figuring out how to go in a straight line.

I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it through the first game, and I’d accumulated 500 points to his 34,000. Then we were on to the next level, and the next, and the next, and the next.

The little “bubble” element was a lifesaver. If I got too far behind, my character was grabbed up in the bubble, and soon I was following behind my leader. If something killed me, I miraculously appeared again in a bubble, safe and sound.

Of course, this salvation didn’t go on indefinitely.

We got into progressively more difficult games, and there were passages to navigate that were really tricky.

Dagfinnr would cry out, “Stay in the bubble, Baba! Stay in the bubble. I’ll get us through this part,” and when we were closer to the finish line and he’d defeated all the bad guys, I could pop down beside him and stagger to the flag pole of victory.

“I’m sure there is a life lesson in there somewhere,” I said to myself as I flew back to Kansas. “Stay in the bubble, Baba.”

However, one can stay in the bubble only so long, while the young and the more efficient forge ahead! And what does this mean as I return to a new year and a new leader on another day in the country?

Last modified Jan. 12, 2017

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