One geek’s obsession with karting

It’s a perfectly sunny day. You’re out for a drive on the beachfront, cruising along, not a care in the world.

Suddenly, you hear a harsh beeping interrupting your perfect drive. You figure you’re probably okay, but then, it hits you.

A Blue Shell.

You know only a mushroom could have saved you, and you know you didn’t have one anyway. But that doesn’t stop the lamentations as you cruise into a cool fourth place after what you’d thought was a sure thing.

Such is the way of Mario Kart.

Let me give you a bit of backstory.

Tiny Erin had a slight competitive streak. In fact, so did midsize Erin, and so does full-size Erin. I like to think it makes me stronger as a gamer.

That competitive streak faced a real challenge when I played Mario Kart 64 for the first time—with a friend who knew to go for Toad first, and who didn’t tell me the rules of the game.

You can probably guess how badly I lost.

I took my irrational wounded teenage pride and tucked it away, sure that someday, the opportunity for revenge would present itself.

And boy, did it ever.

This all happened the same year my family got a Wii—and, wouldn’t you know it, Mario Kart Wii.

It also happened to be the same year I got a nasty bout of the sickness, and had to be out of school for a few days. In a teenager’s mind, that’s just the perfect opportunity to become the Andretti of the game.

I spent entire days sitting on the edge of my seat, Wiimote at the ready, barely blinking as I raced through worlds and challenges. By the end of that week, I had mastered every track, found every shortcut, and unlocked most of the extras.

I became a nightmare for my sister. I was unrelenting, inadvertently saving all of my blinking for the end of the race, planting bananas where I knew she would drive, saving red shells for after I saw her drop her last banana.

After a few practice runs, I did defeat that friend, and it was every bit as savoury as I’d expected.

Nowadays, I’m less of a monster.

I lost most of my Mario Kart magic when I moved out of my parents’ house to a Wii-less apartment. For a while, actually, it didn’t bother me. But then, Shane brought his Wii.

Naturally, the next time my sister came to visit, I asked her to bring Mario Kart. Because it hadn’t been played on Shane’s Wii, it wasn’t nearly as fun, but I decided to take one for the team and unlock as much as I could.

Last week, that’s exactly what I did.

And as it turns out, I haven’t forgotten nearly as much as I thought I had. Even if I forgot the turns, my hands remembered them for me, and I made it through the 50cc races without a hitch.

I still need to unlock the Dolphin Dasher, my signature kart. But once I do, it’ll be time to have some more players over!

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