While it may come as a shock to some people (but to none of those who actually know me), I am not cool. At all. I’ll say it now and I’ll probably say it again sometime later during this ramble, but I am a Pokemon-playing Super Smash Brothers-raging dweeb who can proudly say she’s done the Three-Heart Challenge in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time as well as Majora’s Mask. Unless you’re a professional video game player (which I am clearly not), none of those skills are actually useful any way imaginable.
But in order for this to make any sense whatsoever, let’s get some context first.
Going into my first year of college, my 17-year-old self was even worse than I am now. Imagine me, right now…
#Hawtayyy2DaMaxxxx. For some reason I thought that was a normal face to make in pictures and I have ~50 tagged Facebook photos in a row where I look like that. It’s like a flipbook from hell. Clearly, I was about as socially competent as that “one” zebra in the herd that’s all black, has one leg and only knows how to “Moo” like a cow. Does that make sense? No? Fine. I was the kid that ate an entire gallon tub of glue during a 50 minute art class. I’d had the same group of friends from 1st grade onwards, which meant I had no idea what it actually took to “make friends” (newsflash: I still don’t).
Lucky for me, when my freshman year of college came I happened to go to the same university as two of my high school friends. We thought to ourselves “Hey, let’s NOT room with each other so we can branch out and meet new people! Yeah! Three cheers for being outgoing!”
Did we meet new people? Were we the “cool chicks on campus” who were the “talk of the town”?
FUCK to the NO we were NOT.
We stuck to each other like we’d accidentally walked through an exploding Gorilla Glue factory and did our best to not talk to anyone else, ever, and only hung out with each other. In reality it wasn’t actually that bad…except who am I kidding. It totally was.
So where does Super Smash Brothers come into play? Riiiight below. Yep. Just keep reading and this’ll make start making sense.
‘Twas a rainy Sunday afternoon in the middle of November. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been to Blacksburg, Virginia, but the weather down there is literally as if the atmosphere or whateverthefuck determines daily weather sat down and was like:
Weather God: You know what’d be great today? What if it wasn’t only 10 degrees outside and completely overcast with 30 mph winds, but how about we add MOTHERFUCKING SLEET FOR TWENTY-FUCKIN-FOUR HOURS STRAIGHT?!!!
In other words, the entire campus was deserted and huddled snuggly in their dorms because nobody in their right-frickin’-mind wants to go for a casual stroll through what I can only describe as a pure, unadulterated shit storm of bottom-tier weather. I’d even consider a damn typhoon to be better than Blacksburg weather, because at least you get class canceled for shit that’ll maybe kill you.
So I’m sitting in my $30 bright blue circle folding chair that only an impending college freshman would ever think to buy as he/she/it strolls through the “Back to School” aisles at Target, playing Super Smash Brothers Melee in my dorm room all by myself. Where was my roommate? Oh, she’d gone off to some bumfuck town to see her boyfriend because she too had no friends, except somehow she had managed to have even fewer than me (probably because she looked like a mountain troll…yet had a boyfriend? Trolls gotta bang too). I’d probably just gotten back from the bathroom or something, but in any case I’d accidentally left my door ajar.
“Is that Melee?”
I turned around to see…let’s call him Mac, mostly because I have no fucking idea what his name is.
“Cool, we’re having a tournament upstairs if you wanna join. We’re in room 728.”
Now I could’ve dropped a cocky line and said something like “I dunno, I’d feel bad beating the shit out of everyone ;))))),” or at least something passable like “Cool, I’ll be up in a bit!” But what was my response?
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t as bad as that, but only because I wasn’t wearing a suit and my casual lady stache hadn’t grown back yet. Either way he wound up leaving me to my game-induced isolation. There were two options in front of me, as far as I could tell:
1. Stop being a loser and go meet people.
2. Stop being a loser and go meet people.
And as much as I enjoy being a loser and not meeting people, I decided maybe, just maybe, that particular strategy in life wasn’t exactly going to take me places…or anywhere outside of this dorm room, realistically. So I wrapped my controller up, took the Melee disc out of my Gamecube, placed it in its rightful case, and went upstairs.
Remember how I said we were gonna call the guy who invited me “Mac” because I can’t remember his name? Well I can’t remember the names of the other 15 dudes in there either, so we’re going to call them “Mac & Company,” which will coincidentally be the name of my macaroni & cheese-themed restaurant if I ever make it that far in life.
For those of you who haven’t played, this is how a usual conversation goes when you’re playing Smash with a room full of people you don’t know:
Mac & Company: What’s your name?
Mac & Company: Cool.
…But actually. You can’t really carry a conversation during a game of Smash when you’re playing with people you don’t know. For one thing, you don’t wanna potentially fuck with your gameplay by putting effort into having even a moderately interesting conversation. You know what happens when I talk during Smash? I walk off edges. I blow myself up. I hit “Up + A” when I mean to hit “Up + B” and die after what was a completely recoverable throw off the stage. These aren’t people you can fuck around with; you have to make sure everyone knows you don’t suck ass before you can start to suck ass and have everyone believe you when you say “Eh, I’m just fucking around.”
In case you haven’t noticed, I have 0 fucking idea what “Mac & Company”‘s real name(s) were. Playing Smash as a freshman isn’t something you use to necessarily make friends; it’s something you use to get comfortable being sober around giant hoards of people you don’t know without breaking out into a cold sweat (unlucky for me, my sweats were hot instead of cold, so I just looked like an overheated goober during 90% of my freshman year) Sophomore and junior years, on the other hand, was where playing Smash really made a difference in your social life.
By that point in time I’d finally figured out how to talk to people without them wondering if I had Asperger’s or not (at least I like to think I did). Mac & Company from freshman year were long gone, not just because I’d transferred schools but because I’d finally found a “solid” group of friends. What do I mean by “solid?” Basically that talking to them didn’t make me sweaty and I could be a l0s3r and talk about Pokemon (not that any of them gave a shit about Pokemon, but at least they didn’t immediately walk away at the mention of Pikachu)
This was a group I could play Smash with, but I still couldn’t fuck around in the game like a dweeb. Sure there were times where I wasn’t paying attention and died because I was making an attempt at talking to someone. But the option of “Lose a game or two casually because you give 0 fucks about winning” still wasn’t available. And why should it be? Sure these people are my friends, but who wants to lose at Smash? Only losers, that’s who. You don’t truly not-care about being a loser until you’re 100% comfortable with the people around you, and that didn’t happen until my senior year of college.
And you know why it didn’t happen until senior year? Because it took me four years of blacking out around people who I was friendly with, to finally find my friends.
I lived through what we called “Poopnado,” drunken cake fights, people just straight-up walking around the house naked, guys belligerently beating the shit out of each other because one of them threatened to “shame Muhammad” while in a drunk stupor (neither of them were Muslim, which made this even less sensical). We made poems about each other clogging toilets at frat parties and bitched at each other when someone accidentally puked next to the toilet instead of in the toilet. And you know what?
I haven’t won a game of Smash in at least a year.
I suck ass at that game now, and it’s all because I’ve learned to give 0 fucks about winning and just enjoy the people around me. Not that I lose by a huge margin; it’s always close. But who gives a shit about seeing your character applauding itself on-screen for coming in first place if you don’t know anyone around you? Isn’t it more fun to aggressively target that one friend who’s cherry picking at the edge of the stage and waiting for someone to fly by with 150% on their counter? What’s a better time: teasing someone for being a “pussy bitch” and only throwing projectiles at other people, or sitting in a silent room full of people taking the game way too seriously? I think you and I both know the right answers to those questions.
Super Smash Brothers won’t get you an A on an exam or in a class. Actually, it’ll probably get you a 0% since I’d imagine very little Political Science overlaps with Smash (that goes for any college course, really). It won’t buy your books for you during the first week of classes and it won’t necessarily make any friends for you; that’s all on you losers. But I can tell you that it’ll help you realize when you’ve found the friends you’ll want to keep around for life…or, at least life after college, if that even exists (it doesn’t).