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The Best Day Ever




CHAPTER 1: School's OUT!

Once I got off the bus on the last day of school, I WAS FREE! Two months of doing completely nothing, butkuss, nada!

It was summer of 1995, and I was an energetic 7 1/2 year old. 

I was looking forward to another summer of super soaker fights, binge reading Goosebumps, and running around the backyard.



Little did I know that this summer would contain a defining moment of my childhood.


CHAPTER 2: The 16-Bit Giant

One of my favorite parts of summer was going to day camp at Markel Park.

My brothers and I loved it because we got to play all day in the pool and playground and my parents loved it because they got the day off from watching us.

Each day before camp, my mom packed up the necessities in my Darkwing Duck fanny pack. I always got lathered up in sun screen so I wouldn't burn. Also, I always kept my snack bar money in my socks so that nobody would would steal it.



Some of my favorite choices at the snack bar were orange Sunkist and Fun Dip. Do you guys remember Fun Dip, the stuff where you scoop flavored sugar with a white candy stick? I used to get that combo all the time until my mom complained that the Fun Dip was just pure sugar.

In between rounds of tether ball, I would overhear the big kids talking about all of the cool things at the time like Terminator and X-Men.

I remember one time, another kid started talking about these guys named Scorpion and Nightwolf and then he presented a Mortal Kombat comic book.



I was totally captivated by this whole new world of fatalities, special characters, and special moves. He and the other big kids started talking about fatalities which I think were only rumors at the time.

It was all alien to me, I didn't own a Sega Genesis. But from that day forward, Sega sounded like the coolest thing ever!


CHAPTER 3: The Promise

After a long day of imagination games and running around in sand filled sneakers, it was time to come home.

That night, my mom and dad started talking about the "News Times Kid's Race."


KID'S RACE

The Kid's Race was a 1 quarter sprint to the finish line with kids of all ages. Just like a regular running race, each kid had a number and the winners would be featured in the News Times newspaper.

I participated in the race every year and it usually resulted in me getting left in the dust by the older kids. I remember one time I had made it just halfway round the track and the older kids had already finished the race.

This year was different...

I had gotten a lot taller and I would run all of the time. My mom used to say that I could run like Mowgli from the live action Jungle Book movie.

Much to my surprise, my dad made a deal with me-

My dad promised me that if I won 1st Place in the Kid's Race, he would buy me a Sega Genesis

 

I desperately wanted a Sega Genesis. I had played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at a friend's house and it completely blew me away. I remember watching Sonic the first time and I was amazed by the graphics and the sound quality. Once I heard the "SEGAAAA," I was hooked. 

This was a huge deal to me because our family did not have a lot of money back then. My dad worked at a factory and my mom struggled to raise us four kids, one of which had Autism. We went to food pantries, bought groceries in bulk, and the concept of "in-style" clothes was something I never experienced growing up. A lot of times, my hand-me-downs led to me being ridiculed at school.


My dad was a blue collar worker like Earl Sinclair

Usually the only times we got toys was on Christmas or a birthday. Well, it looked like Christmas was coming early this year!

I was determined to run as fast as I could to win that Sega Genesis!


CHAPTER 4: The Big Day

I remember the day quite well. It was a beautiful Connecticut morning with dew on the grass and birds singing. Soft clouds were overhead and gentle light came down from the sky.

My parents found a spot by a park bench that gave a clear view of the race track. They straddled their two baby strollers alongside the bench. They wished me luck and my dad reiterated his promise to me that if I came in first, he would buy me a Sega Genesis.


A race official came over and pinned a paper number to my t-shirt. I remember being confident and scared at the same time.

I approached the start line and lined up alongside all of the other kids.



I stood with my left leg in front, ready to spring my right leg forward.

My anxiety started to grow, I had no idea when the race was going to start. I held my stance as I tried to listen for anything to signal that the race had begun- a gunshot, a whistle, anything... 


THEN all of a sudden, an air horn blew!

The race had begun and I started to run.



The older kids quickly took the lead, I was completely caught off guard by how fast they were!

Once I realized I was losing, I picked up the speed. I pumped my arms and moved my legs as fast as I could.

I caught up with the main pack.

45 yards to go

I pulled ahead of several kids, I had lightening in my feet.

20 yards to go

I was closing in on the top three runners. The finish line was in sight!

I was moving much faster than they were!




With first and second just ahead, I got ready to pass the kid in third and then... I ran out of track.

We crossed the finish line and that was it, the race was over.


The officials handed me a medal for 4th place and I burst into tears.


My parents packed up their strollers and we headed to car. I was completely devastated.



CHAPTER 5: The Surprise

The car ride home was completely silent.

I wallowed in my failure as the last of my tears began to dry.

Then my dad strayed from the usual route home. He took a strange exit off of the highway.


After a short stretch, before I could ask "where are we?" He pulled into a shopping plaza.

My dad parked in front of none other than- Circuit City.



My whole family entered the Circuit City. We traversed the long aisles of electronics until suddenly we came upon it... The Sega Genesis.


My dad pulled the game console off the shelf and said to me, "It doesn't matter whether you came in first or second, it only matters that you tried your hardest."




There it was, my holy grail. I almost burst into tears again, this time, from happiness.

Some of my favorite games were on the Genesis, like Mega Bomberman, Contra:Hard Corps, and of course the Sonic Series.

It wasn't that I got a new video game console, it was the fact that my parents recognized me for trying my hardest that truly made it the best day ever.


Thanks for reading!


 



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comic_book_fan Posted on Sep 22, 2014 at 06:03 PM

i here you i didn't get my sega until like 1998.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Sep 03, 2014 at 04:09 PM

Very sweet story and vivid descriptions of your moments of childhood disappointment and elation. I wasn't the most competitive kid and didn't make much money in our school's Jog-A-Thon, but if a toy had been on the line I would have summoned "my speed of the puma".

echidna64 Posted on Jun 10, 2014 at 03:42 PM

Yeah I still have it! I brought it to college with me and even picked up a few new games like Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja.

Fulton4V Posted on Jun 05, 2014 at 03:02 PM

That is good you finally got your Sega. Thats a fun story, thanks for sharing it. I think the Genesis had been out for a while by then wasnt it?

vkimo Posted on Jun 04, 2014 at 07:52 PM

Nice article man! I'm currently in a waiting room and this article was a godsend haha. Love how this article had a moral to the story. Do you still have that Genesis?

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 03, 2014 at 09:34 PM

I figured your moniker was referring to Knuckles. Speaking of whom, he appears to have beefed up for Sonic Boom.

I was trying to recall my summer of '95. I can only recall the major things... Beginning my time in the workforce, living alone for the first time in my own apartment, and very large phone bills for my online use. I had met a girl from Washington (state) and was corresponding with her via AOL chat rooms. Eventually she came to Ohio for a week to visit, and in February of '96, I visited her.

That, of course, led nowhere (as did a few other online hookups). But I met my wife online some years later, so I could say that was just practice for the real deal. LOL

echidna64 Posted on Jun 03, 2014 at 09:11 PM

Thanks Vaporman, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I just googled the Nendoroid Sonic toys and they look awesome, your son is gonna have a blast! Sonic the Hedgehog is one of my favorite games of all time and even my moniker refers to Knuckles the Echidna.

When I have kids of my own someday, I want to build a MAME machine so they can experience classic gaming like I did growing up.

Thanks again for your kind words!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 03, 2014 at 08:03 PM

YES! This story has made my day. What a great read. That had to be just an amazing feeling. And something that would stick with you... that if you always try your hardest, you can't lose... even when you do.

Even to place 4th would have been a real challenge, especially for a short guy like myself (I was very close to being the shortest kid in school for a few years). So this is an inspiring story with an awesome ending.

But I simply can't see how there is any bigger fan of Sonic than my 6 year old son at the moment. He is nuts for Sonic. I just purchased him a Nendoroid Sonic figure from China that has tons of accessories for changing faces, hands, etc. and he is flipping out that it's coming. LOL.

Thanks echidna!!!

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