I asked five of my friends if they would write an essay about a mystery topic. I wouldn’t tell them what it was unless they agreed to do it, but assured them it would be something they’d enjoy writing about. All five said yes. The topic was RBI Baseball, a 1987 Nintendo game that I’ve spent hundreds hours playing with all of them. Here is the third entry, by Richard Hewett
Read all the essays in the series here
I’m scared of this writing assignment. I hate serious analyses of pop culture items that last for thousands of words, when really, the entire discussion is “This thing is fun. We do it. Goodnight.” [Insert Grantland joke here.]
I am also scared of it because I know that four of my friends are taking part in it and their essays will be much stronger than mine.
I spent a great deal of time fretting about what their essays would say; how long they would be; if they would be funny or serious — but then I had a revelation: My hours spent playing these men in RBI Baseball has already prepared me for what their essays will be like. The 8-bit Nintendo game has given me such a crystal-clear window into their souls that I can easily predict their writings right now. Their essays will be exactly as they played the game.
Derek’s essay will be clinical, with an infuriating, off-putting tone of haughty supremacy. His execution will be note-perfect, if perhaps a tad mirthless.
Conor’s essay will follow a marvelous and creative strategy, but he will be too excitable to properly see it through. (“Excitable” usually meant “drunk.”) The essay will be fun, confusing, and feature a new combination of the words “Jesus” and “dick.”
Greg’s essay will have a tone of laughing indignity, tempered by some words of almost-genuine friendly positivity. The encouraging words will belie my paralyzing fear that if his essay is deemed better than mine, he will whip the shit out of me.
Wynn’s essay will appear thoughtful and reserved on the outside, yet at any point ready to burst into fireworks of joy – the man valued the RBI journey over the destination, and sacrificed winning percentage in the name of fun.
Danny and Geoff, opponents I rarely played due to logistical reasons, will write essays rich with the air of the far-off champions, sitting together on the 8-bit throne, hawking spitballs down upon the naïve challengers. (Truthfully, I know little about their playing styles, but I would wager that their skill and status were directly proportional to their incredible tolerance for alcohol. A valuable lesson I took with me into manhood.)
Chip is probably not writing this, mainly because his college concerns fell on silly things like “girls” and “meeting friends who didn’t attend your high school.”
Same for Sam, whose concerns fell on Dr. Mario.
In a terrible paradox, I’ve realized that my essay doesn’t stand a chance, because it has refused to adhere to my guiding principles for RBI Baseball and hence, life: try not to strike out looking; fight hard for Will Clark; and hope that your friends don’t whip you afterward.