lowered expectations

I don't know how to write essays. An early memory is the SWAT team piling into my friend's trailer and removing stacks of guns. There were no stacks of guns in Nintendo's Contra, where by myself, or with friends I invaded a jungled unnamed South American island to capture and destroy terrorists and perhaps steal their cache's of cocaine and heroin. There are no heroines in Contra, just muscle-bound Bill 'Mad Dog' Rizer and Lance 'Scorpion' Bean. Digitized bullet-belts crisscross their chests. Not crucifixes or targets, but probably should be both. Trailer-park childhoods confer lowered expectations. Not so much a target on your back as a limit. You will not attend college. Ten dollars an hour is 'good'. No amount of book-learning can change anything. We listened to Ice Cube and stole hood ornaments. We paint-balled houses and cars and sling-shot street-lights out. A kind of class terrorism. When my parents found the hood ornaments in my underwear drawer--a shiny collection of Cadillacs, Mercedes, and Buicks--they pretended to call the police. "Don't call the police," I begged. A lesson in hierarchical structures. In Contra, succeeding levels become more difficult. The enemy has faster bullets, improved tactics, better position. One may have to jump to a perch and destroy an enemy before continuing forward. The bodies behind disappear, as though not actually there. Placeholders, perhaps. When I was little, I wanted a light saber. I wanted to defeat Darth Vader, but Darth Vader was not a terrorist. He was a politician.

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