Recently in a post where I filled out my Dadbook profile, I revealed that I tend to spend my Friday nights in the house. Now this is generally so I can get in some gaming time, but after that post I started to think that it might be a good idea for me to figure out a better plan for the wildest night of the week. I need to spend Friday nights hanging out, doing fun and exciting things, but I need a fun and exciting new friend to make that happen. So I decided to go on a search for the video game character who I would most want to hang out with!
My first thought was to simply pick my favorite character and try to hang out with that guy. Link is quiet, good with the ladies, and has lots of neat semi-dangerous magical objects that I’m totally sure he’d be cool with me borrowing for awhile. There’s no better recipe for fun, so Link seemed like a great idea for my Friday night hang out buddy!
It didn’t take long, though, for some problems to arise. When I first tried to call the guy, I could have sworn he picked up the phone. But every time I spoke the other line was totally silent. I guess we had a bad connection. When I called back a second time, some annoying little girl answered.
“Hey listen!” she said, “Link is a hero and doesn’t have time to just hang out whenever he wants. If you want to be his friend, you have to come help him defeat the forces of evil.”
Given my pacifistic nature and general inability to accomplish physical tasks without tripping, this seemed like a bad idea – but I went along with it. I got the address for Ganondorf’s evil castle and met Link there. The first thing that jumped out to me was Link’s age – I work with 17 year old kids on a regular basis and the ridiculousness of seeing one with a sword and shield at the ready put me off my game. He wasn’t particularly impressed with me either, and he gave me a quizzical look as if to say: “where are your weapons?”
“Oh Link,” I said, putting on my best condescending smile, “I know you think weapons are the solution to make you feel safe and protected. But you have to understand that the presence of a weapon in a conflict situation is just increasing the chances that the conflict will escalate to the point of deadly violence. I know you think you need a weapon to be safe, but by carrying one with you you’re actually putting yourself into more danger.”
“You’re 17 now and before long you’ll be a grown man,” I continued. “If you go into this castle right now with weapons drawn, can you defeat Ganondorf? Maybe. But if you kill him, you’re going to spend the rest of your life in serious trouble. This is a defining moment for you, Link. You can choose to be the bigger person and walk away. Report your problems with Ganondorf to the authorities and let the people whose job it is to take care of bad guys do what they do best. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t throw it away he- Link, where did you go?”
Needless to say, Troubled Youth Speech #7 did not do the trick with Link. Maybe this is why I stopped working with clients. Well if anything, this taught me a lesson – I can’t be friends with teenagers. I’m going to have to choose someone else to be my Friday night hang out buddy, a fellow adult with whom I can have adult conversations. I decided to try to form a friendship with another one of my favorite characters:
Vincent Valentine is one of the coolest characters in the Final Fantasy franchise and my personal favorite. He’s got a dark backstory and a wickedly cool aesthetic – what’s not to love? Plus he definitely fits my new “no teenager” requirement; he’s physically 27 and mentally 57, so just like me he’s an old soul. Once I decided to hang out with Vincent, I picked up my phone to give him a call. There was only one problem…Vincent doesn’t own a cell phone.
It took about two weeks to make arrangements with Vincent by mail, but he agreed to hang out and we met at a bar downtown. Once we got past the awkward “you don’t drink?” moment where he stared at me uncomfortably with cold unfeeling judgment, we got a couple of appetizers and started to talk.
“So where do you work?” I asked. He took a long swig of his drink and stared directly into my eyes, his own eyes glistening red in the dim bar lighting.
“I don’t work,” he answered. I opened my mouth to ask him if that was by choice and he cut me off. “I used to work for Shinra. I was a member of an organization there called The Turks. We were the best of the best. And I was the best of them. But that wouldn’t last long.”
I started to ask why but he was already answering. He wasn’t really looking at me anymore – just staring into some distant, unknowable past.
“I remember the first day I saw her working with my father. Lucrecia. She was beautiful. Young, but fiercely intelligent. I had never met anyone like her. Things were great between us for awhile. Nothing overt, of course, but the chemistry between us burned hot. I figured it wouldn’t be long before we ended up together. Then my father passed away. When I needed her the most, Lucrecia suddenly distanced herself from me. It wouldn’t be until much later that I found out why – she felt responsible for my father’s death.”
At this point the conversation had become a little too heavy for me. I took a really loud sip of my Dr. Pepper to try to break the tension, but no dice. He kept going.
“I didn’t see her for awhile after that. When I did, it was awkward. She implied she was seeing someone else. When I asked who, she looked over her shoulder and there he was. Hojo. That mad scientist was twice her age and a serious perv to boot. I didn’t like the idea of him with Lucrecia – imagine my surprise when I found out she was pregnant. Pregnant!”
I heard him smash his mug against the bar as I made my way out the door. Vincent and I might be roughly the same age but weren’t in the same place in life. Still burdened by a broken heart, he hadn’t moved on past the life he used to live. Meanwhile, I was married and had a son to take care of – family life may be dramatic in its own way, but I’m not equipped to deal with intense relationship problems like that anymore. I need a Friday night friend who’s on my level, someone who understands the kind of evening that a tired working dad would enjoy. Someone like:
I decided to schedule a Friday evening playdate with the Bowser family. Bowser Jr is quite a bit older than my son Silas, but Silas likes playing with older kids and Bowser Sr and I were open to trying to make this friendship work. He offered to host the first get-together at his castle in the Koopa Kingdom, a very swanky (if a little warm) place to have a dad-ly hangout.
The kids hit it off immediately – Bowser Jr may seem rough with his spiked shell and pointy fangs but my son gives as good as he gets and before long they were playing with a set of toy go-karts and blue shells. Meanwhile, Bowser Sr and I sat on the couch and talked about our weeks at the office.
“So what is it you do?” he asked. “I heard that you worked up that kid who did in old man Ganondorf a few streets down.”
Uh, yeah, technically juvenile cases are confidential so I can’t really talk about that,” I answered, deflecting, “but I don’t typically work directly with kids. I’m kind of a support, quality-assurance type role, I analyze data and give presentations and trainings for employees at our agency as well as for agencies that work with us. It’s kind of boring to describe, I guess. I do a decent amount of traveling.”
“That I understand, I travel a lot for work as well,” he replied. “Most weeks it’s just a trip to the Mushroom Kingdom and back, but occasionally I end up going a lot farther. I’ve been to Bean-Bean Kingdom, Lakeside Kingdom, Metro Kingdom, all kinds of places.”
We talked for a little while as the little ones played with cars. Once it came time for my son to go to bed, I got him settled in and Bowser Jr wanted to play some video games. Of course I was down for that – we all know how I feel about video games on Friday night – so soon we were deep into a ferocious game of Mario Party. Bowser Jr had all the luck in the world on the game board but his dad and I are no slouches at mini-games, so we managed to stay competitive throughout the game. It was a really fun night and we agreed to do it all again in a couple of weeks.
So there you have it, adventurers, the video game character I’d choose to hang out with in real life! A villain may seem like an odd choice but after taking an honest look at my interests and hobbies, typical game protagonists are either way younger than me or way older and wouldn’t be interested in any of the stuff I like to do. Bowser is just a regular guy who wants to do right by his son and has a friendly workplace rivalry with a particularly bouncy Italian man. I feel like he and I could really hit it off!
If you enjoyed today’s post, you need to head over to Later Levels and say thanks to Kim, who provided the prompt for today as part of the Charming and Open event here on Adventure Rules. I asked her a question as well and her post should be going up within the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye on Later Levels for that post and thanks for coming by to read this one today! All December long I’ll be posting my responses to questions asked by you, adventurers, so be sure to stick around and enjoy the fun!