As I have previously mentioned, I have three brothers. The youngest proposed some time ago that we hold a contest of skill to determine our relative superiority. This was an affront to our traditional system of rank (age). His challenge was met with great harrumphing and uproar. Age as an indicator of worth had kept me several steps ahead of my two younger brothers for a long while. Satisfaction was demanded. We settled for pistols at dawn. Seconds were chosen, the ground was surveyed, letters to our next of kin were prepared should we succumb to the field of honor.
After it had been established that none of us either owned or operated a pistol, let alone pistols, we chose the only other time-honored four-way duel: The Legend of Zelda. Fastest completion wins, no maps barred. A more harrowing trial in its own way than any little gun shot wound when you think about it.
We packed my living room full of TVs and Nintendos. This tight proximity was necessary to dissuade cheating and enhance our derisive hooting. Each brother girded his loins with cool ranch doritos and root beer. Older Brother opened map files on his computer, I scribbled some notes on my hand drawn dungeons, Younger Brother opened his Han Solo folder and pulled out a wall-sized overworld map and leafed through his twenty page walkthrough. Youngest Brother just looked at us and smiled. Pulses raced. The comfortable mantle of speculation and boasting dropped away exposing skill and determination to the chill winds of judgment. The moment was upon us. Three, Two, One…
It wasn’t even close. Youngest Brother, operating solely on memory and pure talent, sailed through the game with ease. He dealt with our smack talk just as effortlessly as his little green adventurer dealt with wizrobes and octoroks. His character, UPPERCUT by name, was a street smart fish out of water in a world he never pixellated. He was there to dispense some swift 8-bit justice. I was hot on his heels until level 5, when I had to turn back to get a potion and a better sword. There I was, out of breath, sweat dripping down my brow, watching this younger he-man dive into the fray without looking back. Not only did he crush us, but as a victory lap he beat Mega Man 2 before the rest of us could piece together enough triforce to stick it to Gannon. He bested me by an hour. Our contract stipulated that the winner have praise heaped upon him. This has been that praise.
Even though my rank didn’t change (still second most superior brother) my ego was a little bruised. Today, just before supper time, I ran out to get a couple of sheets of plywood on a whim. By The Child’s bedtime, I had constructed a lovely set of built-in cabinets in our living room. That soothed the ego a bit. If any of the brothers want to go head to head with some home improvements, well, I think we all know who the Alpha is with a table saw.