That time I almost didn’t play DOOM II

In a post that I wrote long ago about DOOM and DOOM II, I glossed over the latter game. I probably wasn’t ready then to admit to myself that DOOM II almost never happened in my life.

GASP!!

I know. Wouldn’t that have been the worst kind of tragedy? I mean, After my mind-numbing experience with DOOM, it would have completely unthinkable for me to turn a blind eye to DOOM II. Early in my sophomore at college, I saw its glorious PC version on sale at our local gaming/comic store. Being a poor student, it wasn’t something I could afford at that moment. So I let it sit in the back of my mind with thoughts of “Christmas…oh yes, at Christmastime, you will be mine! Mwaaaahahahaha!”  Okay, so maybe I didn’t do the evil laugh…maybe. But I did have a plan.

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That fall I had started working an actual paid job in the university’s costume shop. I was only putting in a few hours a week and barely making party money (you could also say “beer money,” except blech to beer), but I started up a savings account for the sole purpose of buying DOOM II to achieve long-term financial stability. By the end of year, I’d have all that I needed to again save the world from the demons of Hell.  Plans for winter break: MADE.

Only then my parents announced they were getting divorced. Like, right in the middle of the semester during a weekend I needed to come home. My Mom told me in the car during our ride home. And then, once my siblings and I were all together, mother and father both relayed the news.  It was a miserable weekend, but I went back to school with all the assurances my parents could give that everything would be all right. And then, I forgot about video games…for a long time.

I’ll be honest — I don’t recall what happened at Christmas 1994 family-wise. I remember playing Super Metroid, Earthworm Jim, and lots of Street Fighter with my brother, I also remember {inhale} I went back to work for the crazy lady with corgis who painted clocks because there was a really terrible snowstorm and I almost got stuck at her place but she drove me home in her black Saab with the driver’s side door partly open on the highway because she couldn’t see the road {exhale} but I can’t recall if my parents were still together.  At one point I remember looking at houses with my Mom, but that might have occurred later in 1995. This might have been the time when my parents tried the trial separation/trial reconciliation, or maybe that was later too. Talk about a goddamn jumble of memories.

Anyway, the one thing that didn’t happen during that break was DOOM II. I had completely forgotten about my wanton desire to obliterate demons in the wake of family drama. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to go back to school just to escape it all. Once there, I sunk myself into homework, term papers, my paid job, my dear friends, and anything else I could to take my mind off of my family. As was par for my course, I detached myself from family communiques, preferring to simply be surprised upon seeing how things had progressed upon coming home for breaks and such.  I didn’t return to video games until the summer between my sophomore and junior years when I stumbled across Sam & Max: Hit the Road. It was exactly what I needed then: ridiculous, fun, and completely engrossing.  In addition to building my savings account with money from part-time jobs, I was also engaged in an apartment search with my college roommates. DOOM II could not have been farther from my mind.

Upon returning to school, I kept my jaded, sullen feelings concerning my family to myself as I joined my roommates in our awesome new apartment. We quickly settled in and were all determined to make the junior year the best year ever. During that fall semester, we spent a fair amount of time getting to know our neighbors. One of the other apartments housed a group of fine, young gentleman, among who was an individual with a swanky, new Macintosh computer. While passing by that apartment one day – the fellows often kept their front door open for reasons – I heard some all-too familiar grunts, the rev of a chainsaw, and the sounds of monsteriffic death. I unabashedly called inside, “Is that DOOM I hear?” Macintosh guy poked his head out and said, “Yeah, DOOM II. Just got it for the Mac. You play?” I stopped myself from gushing gamer-y gack about how much I looooved DOOM and that I hadn’t thought about video games in such a long time because my parents suck and fuckitalltohell YES!! And instead I said oh so nonchalantly, “Uh, no. Played DOOM though.” “That’s cool,” he responded, “You ever want to play this, just let me know.” He went back to his game and I went back to whatever it was I was doing, which didn’t really matter, because I totally wanted to play DOOM II!

I never did play DOOM II on that Mac, nor did I run right out to the store to buy the game. I didn’t have a PC at the time, so even if I had had the game in hand, I wouldn’t have been able to play it. So I set aside my impetuousness and went about my business. (But in the back of my mind, the thought rested, “Christmas…oh yes, at Christmastime, you will be mine! Mwaaaahahahaha!”  This time totally with the evil laugh.)

On Christmas Day 1995, as my family and I (I think we were all together despite the divorce) sat watching holiday fare with the smells of sage and spice dotting the air around our imminent dinner, my uncle arrived with one of his infamous boxes – a box that could have been filled with anything from computer parts to car accessories to hairbrushes to caramel popcorn. We opened the box to find, much to my personal delight, a host of video games old and new.  And I bet you can guess which Christmas miracle was among them…?

Yep. DOOM II.

I silently snatched that thing up faster than a hooker could snatch a bad weave. A wave of disbelief and relief hit, and nobody queried me as I sat there cradling my newly-prized possession – they were all to absorbed in the rest of the box’s contents. And soon enough, Christmas dinner distracted all.

Later that evening, with the adults quietly conversing and the kids falling asleep to the sounds of jingle bells, I boarded myself in our computer room with DOOM II. Before too long I was hunting and shooting and saving the world. And it was beautiful.

2 thoughts on “That time I almost didn’t play DOOM II”

  1. It’s a rare game that gets a person to go all Gollum about it “Yes..its, its MINE!” I think mine was Majora’s Mask… Anyway, crazy to think that such a huge fan of the original DOOM games almost missed the second one. Weird how life can manage to pull us away from just about anything at times, no matter how small or personally significant they may be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really can’t imagine the direction my gaming might have gone in if it hadn’t been for the DOOM games. Of course, I can appreciate their significance now. Back then, gaming was more of a fleeting rather than stable hobby.

      Agreed that life will sometimes just take the darndest turns despite any commitments you might have in place. Guess that why it’s important to maintain a “go with the flow” attitude (especially with something like gaming) rather than one that’s more rigid. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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