The twinkly-eyed old man was surrounded by pajama-clad moppets seated on the floor around him. It was Christmas Eve and it was story time. The children looked up at the twinkly-eyed old man, who sat in a comfortable rocker. Their tiny faces were aglow with anticipation. “This story happened on a Christmas Eve way back in the olden times,” the twinkly-eyed old man began in a resonant voice. “Back in 1997.”
The twinkly-eyed old man was surrounded by pajama-clad moppets seated on the floor around him. It was Christmas Eve and it was story time. The children looked up at the twinkly-eyed old man, who sat in a comfortable rocker. Their tiny faces were aglow with anticipation.
“This story happened on a Christmas Eve way back in the olden times,” the twinkly-eyed old man began in a resonant voice. “Back in 1997.”
“Wow,” a chubby-cheeked boy couldn’t help but exclaim. “They had years without 2s in front of them?”
“Yes, little Jimmy. It was not only a different decade, it was a different century and even a different millennium.”
“Wow, a different mil-many-mum.”
“That’s right, little Jimmy. And it was a very eventful year. For instance, Hong Kong had just been returned to Chinese rule, ‘The Simpsons’ became the longest running animated TV series in prime time, and people played video games on the Nintendo 64.”
The children were captivated by the exotic sounding names, though “The Simpsons” was still airing on prime time.
“And there was a dad who lived back then who was very sad,” the twinkly-eyed old man continued.
“Why was he sad?” a shy little girl seated to the left of the old man’s rocker asked, wearing an expression of deep concern.
“He was sad, little Susie, because he was unable to buy the present his two sons wanted for Christmas. You see, there was one present that they wanted above all others. The father knew that no matter what else he got them for Christmas, nothing could replace this present in their hearts. It was called ‘GoldenEye 007,’ and it was considered then and remains to this day in the minds of many aficionados to be the premier first-person shooter video game ever created.”
“Wow, o-fishy-o-nachos,” said little Jimmy.
“But the problem, little children, was that Nintendo would advertise and promote their Christmas releases to whip gamers into a frenzy of desire, and then they would distribute 25 games to a region supporting several hundred thousand consumers. This way, they would create more demand, generate greater sales, and provoke more parental breakdowns.”
“I don’t like In-tended-o,” said little Susie with a scowl.
“Well, neither did the man after he had traveled to every toy and electronics store within a 50-mile radius of his home to find ‘GoldenEye 007,’ to be told the very same thing at each location: ‘Try back next week.’ But now it was Christmas Eve and next week would be no good.
“Yet, little children, there was one store he had yet to try. He had not tried finding the game at this store because it sold games only as a small sideline. Still, the dad had to try so he went to the small store, which also happened to be closing in 20 minutes. He looked in the glass case where the game should have been, but the case was empty. The dad was about to leave, but the salesgirl happened to walk by. The dad, without the slightest hope of success, asked the salesgirl if the store had any ‘GoldenEye 007s.’ She said she didn’t think so, but looked into the case. That’s when she discovered that there was one ‘GoldenEye 007’ left that had escaped notice because it had fallen behind the bottom of the case and could not be seen by shoppers.
“The dad bought the last ‘GoldenEye 007,’ and Christmas was saved!”
As the children joined the twinkly-eyed old man in a cheer, two men observed the proceedings from the opposite side of the room.
“Boy, dad never gets tired of telling that story.”
“Sshhhhh, if he hears you he’ll tell it again.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media Service’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at email@example.com.