When my dad & I played Tecmo Super Bowl

I always chose the 49ers even though we were Lions

fans because the 49ers were my favorite NFL team

that actually had a shot. Every play I blitzed Ronnie

Lott up the middle & stuffed Barry at the line. Tecmo

Barry was pretty good, but he couldn’t dance like the real

Barry, just like how I could run fly patterns for my dad

in our front yard but in a pick-up game even the easiest

passes bounced off my hands. Instead of football

I played soccer & instead of soccer I ran & instead

of running I broke both my knees with fractures so

tiny I felt like I was lying when I tried to explain. Detroit

hates Barry for leaving early but maybe he was just

trying to minimize the pain. Now I bet he’s somewhere

wiggling his toes & drinking hard lemonade & we’re

still freezing our asses off in this city saying You can’t

just quit to a man who doesn’t even exist anymore.


When we weren’t playing Tecmo we were sharing

the same life on Super Pitfall for the NES until

Playstation came & then we were racing head-to-head

on Test Drive 5. Then there was Gameday ’98,

a game I loved like family but played alone for years

because my dad struggled with controls that weren’t

just A/B plus D-pad & even though I had a different

quarterback this time around, our games always

ended with Jerry Rice streaking down the sidelines

& me running up the score. Like Barry, one day

I just gave it all up, stopped playing before my fingers

went like my knees. I mean, I don’t fuck with it

anymore, unless I’m drunk with my friend & he wants

to play Madden & then for an hour I get to spin,

sprint & make hard cuts on the turf without my joints

snapping in protest. My dad & I find other things to do

together now, like watching football instead of trying

to be it, or charging his remote-control helicopter

& taking it for a spin down in the valley. We’ve lived

like this for years, except the last time I was home

he surprised me by firing up Gameday like it wasn’t sixteen

years old & making Barry look like the nineties

all over again. I sat for a while & watched Gameday Barry

looking seven years older than Tecmo Barry, seven

years smarter than Tecmo Barry, shaking defenders like he

always used to do, like I’m sure he misses now, even

just a little, no matter where he is. My dad didn’t ask

me to play & I didn’t ask either—even though it’s

what I really wanted—because I can’t remember whether

the X-button is left or bottom-center anymore

& anyway my dad looked pretty locked in, thumbs jumping,

making moves I had forgotten a long time ago.