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Why I hope my marriage is like Super Mario Bros. 3: A long improvised-essay

Antonio Pizza

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Why I hope my marriage is like Super Mario Bros. 3:

an improvo-essay by Antonio Pizza

On Monday, February 12, 1990, Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in the United States. I don't know when I got my copy, but I do remember the anticipation leading up to it. I remember seeing the trailers for The Wizard; I remember hearing from a classmate that it was at "The Fun Factory", the local mall's arcade in a Playchoice-10 machine; I remember the brilliantly effective hype commerical with thousands of kids all across North America grouped in different colored shirts chanting "Mario! Mario!" until the camera pulled back into outer space revealing that the kids had formed Mario's smiling face upon the face of the earth. I was hyped, I was eager, I was amped. The classmate (Jeff Kraak, if you're out there somewhere, what's up?) told me magnificent things about the game such as not reverting directly to small Mario if you were injured as Fire Mario, a frog suit(?!), and (get this) the ability to fly! Oh! I had to have it! Everyone knew and loved Mario 1, and Mario 2 was, though not identically, equally loved and adored. How I asked for it, I don't recall. How I convinced my mother to buy it, I don't remember. When we went, I couldn't tell you. What I do remember was travelling to The Crossroads Mall in Portage, Michigan with her and purchasing Super Mario Bros. 3 from K.B. Toy Store for $55.

What I remember next disturbed me at the time and disturbed me in later retrospect, but now I recognize it as an important life lesson. We walked out of the mall and I had Super Mario Bros. 3 in my hands. Finally! I could get this weird "frog suit" and "teddy bear suit" (Tanooki Mario) that I'd heard about. I could try and get the whistle just like Jimmy Woods did in The Wizard, I could do better than Moira Grissom who stupidly fell and died in World 1's first miniboss castle, and I whoop the snot out of the evil and arrogant Lucas and his crony Toby Maguire. I could see if "Wart" was coming back!

I could finally do what I'd been waiting so long for. But the strangest feeling washed over me on our way back to the car.

I didn't want it anymore.

The excitement, the fever, the hype, the rush... all of it had vanished. I wanted to take the game and just throw it away. Not because it disgusted me, but I just didn't want it anymore. It was taking up precious space in my hands. Though nine-year-old me couldn't articulate it at the time, twenty-six-year-old me can say that it wasn't the game I desired most. It was wanting the game that I desired most. And as soon as I had it, my need had been fulfilled and I felt extremely disappointed at what I now had. Keep in mind, this is before I ever got home. This is still on the way to, and in, the car. Of course I hid this from my mother who had just shelled out $55 on something she had not the slightest interest in. I feigned excitement and contentment as well as a nine-year-old could in 1990. The inevitable logical question arises: "Why on earth would you desire for your marriage to emulate that?" Follow me and I'm going to bless you...

I'm not much of a gamer. The Legend of Zelda came out in 1987, Super Mario Bros. came out in 1985. I didn't beat either of them until 1996. I don't know how long it was until I beat Mario 3 but I'm sure it was well into the 90s as well. But that didn't stop me from playing it over and over again. Initially disappointed, I took the game (since I had it now and dare not even attempt to conjure up the notion of maybe suggesting that it should possibly be returned to the store), played it, eventually embraced it, and grew to love it. My next door neighbor and I would have all night Mario 3 sessions in the summer to see how far we could get without warping before we finally fell asleep (he always fell asleep by Water Land, I usually got tired around Level 7 or 8 ). I mastered the timing to hit the star at the end of every level. I could line up the Starman in Toad's scrolling extra lives game every time without trying. I memorized patterns in the N-card memory game. I discovered other whistles, I'd hunt the mysterious coin ships and blue Toad houses, I'd hoard P-Wings and Lakitu clouds until Dark World. Above a bachelor's, but not quite a doctor, I had mastered SMB 3 except for one part... I couldn't beat the freakin' thing. Getting through Dark World was hard enough, but throw in Bowser's castle plus the fact that I had no initial idea on how to beat him and it wouldn't be rare for me simply to get to Dark World and turn the game off. I wasn't unfulfilled, but I wasn't at a level of skill where I could face what was facing me. This wasn't, nor is, a matter of disappointment for me as Super Mario Bros. 3 ranks as one of my top 5, if not number one, favorite video game of all time. This isn't necessarily for matters of excellent construction or graphics or challenge, but because when I think of joy I've experienced when playing a video game, Mario 3 is at the forefront of my memory. I associate Super Mario Bros. 3 with pleasant memories and experiences. And though I have no difficulty breezing through the game today and stomping Bowzer in the mud (or letting him stomp himself rather), it still brings me great pleasure despite it being 17 years old.

What I mean to say is that on the sixth anniversary of the party by the pool thrown by Flowerguy, I will become a married man and I have great expectations, hopes, and dreams. Admittedly, there are a few anxieties that I would not call cold feet, but merely recognition of the tasks and responsibilities that lie before me. I do not take what I am about to embark upon lightly. I am very excited but I hope that my excitement isn't quick to wear off in the eventual normalcy of everyday life. Keep in mind, I never imagined that upon walking out of the store in 1990 that I would no longer want what I'd been fiending for for weeks on end. But the redemption in that (besides a true calling from the Lord for me to marry this woman and my own personal desire and love to do so) is that my own life has revealed a wonderful precedence. What began as intense desire became, through time, hard work, passion, and zeal, a timeless and lasting experience. I get a kick every time I play Mario 3. It's as much fun now as it was in 1990, '98, and '06. I couldn't beat it at first, but by not giving up on it and sticking it through I eventually mastered it and began discovering fun new elements all the time (like getting all the coins in World... 2-2 I believe, makes a blue Toad's house appear). Yeah I'd throw the controller in disgust at times, and of course I'd angrily hit the power button on the NES and declare "I DON'T WANNA PLAY THIS NO MORE!" but rash statements can't quench a love of the game that easily. Of course I had to try again. I'd had too much fun to give up on it forever.

People say marriage is no picnic, but I youthfully disagree. Having been in the relationship with my fiancée for an adequate number of years, I know that it takes actual work to build on what you started with and to keep the two of you growing together. And if you and your honey want to go on a picnic, it takes work. Food must be bought and prepared. Decisions must be made on what to bring. An agreement must be made on when the time to have the picnic is available and where the two of you are going to go. How much is being brought? What is being brought? Is anyone else coming? Someone has to carry the stuff and if your locale is far off someone has to drive, be it you, your honey, the bus driver, the cab driver, or your grandma. The site must be set up and cleared of debris. But once all of that has taken place, you and your mate can literally enjoy the fruits of your labor. I'm not going into Dr. Phil mode, but I submit unto you folks in relationships; when was the last time you and (s)he went on a picnic?

Just as I'd heard and seen so much about Mario 3's fun (and difficulty via The Wizard) without ever having played it, I have high hopes that my inital eagerness and excitement about my upcoming and only marriage will mature into a lasting love and appreciation upon which I can fondly reminisce in 17 or, God willing, even 71 years from now. My father once wrote a poem about how we do not desire the sunshine, but desire the desire for sunshine. Immaturely, I fell into that trap as a 3rd grader in mid-1990 (and again when DKC 2 for the SNES came out) but now I realize that the desire for the desire can occasionally confirm that what you were chasing after was your true treasure after all. You didn't enjoy the desire of Mario 3, you actually wanted Mario 3 the whole time. You just didn't know it. You were merely sidetracked, but time can correct and redirect the course of that river. Have I stretched and exegied too much out of my illustration? Possibly. Does any of this make a lick of sense to someone out there? Possibly. Could it impact someone for the positive? Hey, anything could happen. That was not my inspiration for this improvised essay, but instead one of those quick 1½ - 2 second thoughts in which is compacted and compressed an entire day's worth of meditation and verbal dialouge. Nonetheless, I fancied it an interesting similie worth sharing and figured that if it could be appreciated anywhere, it would be on a videogame webforum.

If you read all of this, I thank you. If you're a Christian, we'd appreciate your prayers for our marriage. If you're not a Christian, I still would still love to cheerfully accept your well wishes. We need all the support we can get. And if you're like one of those types who has been on the forums since I first joined but still have yet to grow or mature any in the past 6 years, your immaturity, bitterness, snide attitude, and anger at the world is cause for great sadness. There is a world outside of your computer. The sunlight doesn't hurt. Embrace it occasionally. I beg you, turn away from Dustin Diamondism. I don't say this to whore out congrats for myself, but I believe in the prayers of the saints and would love their prayers for my marriage. However I recognize that everyone does not believe what I do and I don't want to deny a well meaning person the opportunity to say "ur gettin' /\/\4rr13|)??!!!11~ omg kewl." So I leave you on a positive note. Buy yourself an ice cream sandwich, fire up your NES if it still works, and play through all of Super Mario Bros. 3 (with the one you love if you can convince them) without warping, and beat the game.

Till next time, peace out, God bless, and may the force be with you.


P.S. But if you really want to show us you're happy for us, we want a Wii. :)

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That was pretty cool. I'd only been dating my wife for four months before she became pregnant (ALWAYS USE A CONDOM! THE PILL IS A SHAM!), and nine months before we were married. I love her more than anything in my life, and it didn't take me a whole year to come to that conclusion. If your marriage is going to work, it will work regardless if you've known each other for five months or five years. It's not hard, despite what you see on TV, sitcoms, etc. It's the natural evolution of a serious committed relationship. If you look at it in that light, as the next step in a continuing process as opposed to a life-altering event, then you have nothing to worry about. If you already live together, share money, bills, food, and your bedroom, then what has really changed other than wearing a ring you didn't have before?

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Great essay, AP. I think you actually touched me with your nerdy emotionalism.

But I know what you're talking about with wanting only the desire of the goal - not desiring the goal itself. It's plagued me for too long and it's still a problem of mine. Luckily, it's only affected my wallet so far (as in your SMB3 story).

Nice to see the internet isn't just for lulz? Hope your marriage is a long and happy one.

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