Oct 10 , 2018

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Jesse Gardner

The Regenerate Degenerate

Written by Anonymous 

The morning sun hit my eyes like a flying frisbee. I do a quick scan; stomach is fine, head is fine, body isn’t sore… I guess I’m still drunk. The sun is still in my eyes, though. I roll over to my other side.


Where’s my phone? Without waking up I search the bed. First with my arms, then legs, and soon I’m making a snow angel on the hotel mattress. I kick my phone to the ground. Sigh.


Last night went well. I say to myself. You only get one Saturday a week, might as well make it count. You never know with smash players. At any point a wild party could turn into a seated, yet belligerent, smash fest. I don’t have a preference. It is a party game, after all. Of course it would be fun at parties.


I’m not sure which side of the spectrum last night would fall. I’m sure I played, the venue was open 24/7. And I’m sure I partied, since the whole bottle of jack is finished. Oh jesus, the alcohol. Now I’m sure that I drank too much. My hangover is kicking in, like a car’s battery getting jump started with cables connected to vomit. The bathroom is close, and crisis is averted. I sit in front of the toilet for the next few minutes, processing the healthy amount of shame that’s inevitably coming my way.


I placed well in singles. I think to myself. Realistically, I placed my seeding. But I’m good now, so the placing is good. Relatively. Right? I hardly know how proud of myself I should be; I had two opportunities to make a name for myself and I was unable to do so. Sigh. Next time, I guess. The idea of training, studying, improving… I turn to the toilet again. A dry heave, and another. I get the message, body.


I’m not positive my excruciatingly loud heaving woke up my room, all I know is that they’re laughing at me now. I smile too. They know what’s good, after all, I didn’t finish the Jack Daniels by myself. I rejoin them after a quick brush, reclaiming my spot on the bed before that night’s DF (Designated Floor) swipes at the opportunity to upgrade. I grab my phone off the disastrous carpet, which is so terrible after only 48 hours that I can’t help but smile again.


The whole room’s awake, and struggling. We recap the night, mostly walking around but having a good time doing it. We rediscover a highlight; my buddy throwing a Combo’s bite over 30 feet over a terrace and me catching it in my mouth. The best kinds of hangover, I think to myself. Remembering your night after kneeling over a toilet.


The Recap on your Kneecaps.


I laugh to myself and attempt to tweet it. I can’t get the set-up right. It ends up in my drafts.


I stay on twitter regardless, the central hub for everything that’s going on. Top 64 is well underway, and we drop last night to tune into the matches. Every set features great players. Each game has its own charm and excitement.


We should get up. I head to my suitcase and get my day’s clothes, then claim the shower before anybody else can. Sick. I do a mini pop off for my own awareness and reaction time.


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It’s 3:30, top 64 is on it’s latest stages. Bananas vs Fiction is an absolute riot - both the gameplay and the sharp narrative around it. You could say I couldn’t peel my eyes off it. I tweet that, too. It doesn’t blow up the way I expected.


Top 8 is at six. I shoot a DM to my friend from Rochester, a Marth main with a solid network of hallucinogens. Last night he told me he had mushrooms, enough for six people, and that I had a good chance of getting in on the action. Don’t get your hopes up. He never confirmed it.


He responds, “Main stage”. I find him easily, and sit down with controlled anticipation. “We, uh, we good?” I don’t want to blow this. I’m probably nervous for nothing. “Yeah man, let’s do it!” sigh.


“Sick.”


We head back to their room and divvy it all up. It’s a rag-tag team of two different regions, but we know each other well enough, and everyone is comfortable. That’s good. This community can hang, but you never know how much. Although we’re managing our doses carefully, we’re still talking about, you know, drugs. We’re about to literally poison ourselves. A lot can go wrong.

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I’ve never played Melee on mushrooms before. It was hard. Lots of movement, a swirl of colors, chaotic and difficult to control. Normally a falco main, I switch to puff for the occasion. Slow is good. I can handle slow. “Let’s, uh, try slower characters.” I say to the room. My friend plugs in. Chooses fox. I guess that’s cool.


It’s not. A match later and I’m hurled over the garbage can, massively ruining everyone’s vibe. This isn’t even that bad. I needed this. I try to say exactly that, but there’s something else blocking my teeth and tongue. The room handles it well enough, two leave for fear of a chain reaction. My two homies give me support and good energy.


I’m not knocked out, quite the contrary. Within 30 seconds I’m up and cleaning the mess, which was a perfect shot into the only garbage in the area. I feel way better, too. The trash is quickly removed, good vibes are restored. Textbook play. Turns out I have good blech skill. I try to tweet this, but my phone is freaking me out right now.


It’s strange how good I feel. It’s like I’ve been reborn into a man who takes control of his destiny, who isn’t bound by the confines of illness or the effects of purposely ingesting poison. I have crossed the dreaded desert and arrived at the oasis. And that oasis is room 1732, downtown Detroit.


I find my friends who fled the scene, pacing through the hallways purposeless and confused. My presence seems to calm them; they were not expecting somebody handle this so well. I have my health and strict code at majors to thank.


Before I’m out of bracket I always make sure to take care of myself. I eat decently enough, try to stick in an RxBar every now and then, and make sure that I’m getting enough sleep. I also exercised the morning before. Although I spent last night drinking, I had set myself up with enough of an advantage to continue on the weekend without much trouble. A less healthy man would have not handled the mushrooms with as much grace. That’s a fact.


I didn’t explain this to anybody, it hardly felt like the time. I just gave one big, overarching apology, and took care of the mess I’d made. My friends never gave me trouble, not for a second. That’s the beauty of the smash community, the support. It wasn’t their garbage can, anyway. It all turned out fine.


I did want to lay down for a bit, and did so for the 20 minutes before top 8 began. Psilocybin is an interesting chemical, I’m not sure exactly how it works, I just know how it feels. With every breath I inhaled the energy of the room. I closed my eyes and became a wallflower, listening to the idle and energized chatter of my group of unlikely friends. I was drifting in a pool of safety and joy, excitement and belonging. I accepted my role in a seemingly undying community, and looked forward to recreating this feeling every couple of months in perpetuity.


In that time I shed my longing for fame, or recognition, or anything more than I deserve. I submitted myself to the game at large, the rock solid core upon which this community has sowed it’s roots. In that web I saw myself, small yet visible, and accepting my place with compassion. I am who I am. I have done how I have done. I play as good as I play. I have contributed, and I have reaped what others have sowed. For 17 years the roots have stretched and receded, strengthened and weakened, yet through it all the organism remains strong. It has brought this wonderful event together. It has placed me here, on this bed, with these people playing the game just feet away. Sigh. As I exhale, I find myself mouth the words thank you.

 


Eyes open. I reconnect with the group, and we all decide to head over. The walk over featured fun visuals and strange conversation. I hardly process the chat. Walking down the street feels like jumping into a Mario 64 painting. I share the thought. I get a big laugh. Sick. No need to tweet when you have friends, tripping balls.


As for top 8…



Up first was AbsentPage and Zain. Two young players with a whole lot of skill. Their movement and confidence was displayed in full force early in game 1. I look down the line at my trip companions and they are absolutely losing their minds. I smile. This is going to be a good time.


This game has been poked and prodded and stretched and manhandled for years now. These players are absolutely ridiculous, playing at such blistering speeds that it takes an hour to fully digest a 14 minute set. You’ll see an amazing thing, and before you can even react you’re hit with another amazing thing. When the players are good enough, it’s just a long string of intensity and bewilderment from the crowd. Add some hallucinogens and it feels more like crowd surfing than spectating.


The matches blur by like a flurry of punches, delivered by the care bear Funshine. I’ve been watching this game long enough that I can watch without logic, enjoy without criticism. I allow myself to meld into that, and for a while it keeps momentum without flinching. This is fun I simply think. I should do this again.


Before long it’s all over. Our crew marches back to the room, sharing our experiences. Successful. We take the time now to look back at what happened, to analyze the matches as we are prone to do, and to make judgement on who should be ranked where. The games are over, but the organism never sleeps. It will produce no more fruit tonight, so we now look at the harvest and determine it’s value. This one was not the largest, not the sweetest. But it is healthy. We all go home, filled up with it’s bounty. We are satisfied.


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In retrospect, the successful weekend was a product of preparation. We might not know everything about nutrition, but we do know that the body likes some things more than others. Natural foods make the body happy. It makes the body more alert, more dexterous, more connected to it’s tasks.


A healthy smasher is a happy smasher. A typical smasher is unhealthy. It’s a real shame.

To keep the melee organism healthy it’s vital to tend to its inhabitants. Our players, commentators, TO’s, volunteers, everybody will benefit from a healthier lifestyle.

 

Maybe top 8 is more fun when the whole venue is drunk. But maybe all we need is a way to connect with ourselves and the people around us. To feel good about our place in the system. To feel connected to the grassroots community we all love and contribute. To understand that we aren't simply recipients, but a vital part of the community at large. We should strive to play our part as effectively as possible.

 

It’s not a free trip. It takes time to organize, expensive costs of hotels and transportations. Why add the stress of sickness or poor health? Why not prepare your body to handle the stresses of a three day event? Why not give yourself the best opportunity to play well and prove yourself at the most important tournaments of the month or year?


You don’t need to drink or do drugs to enjoy yourself. We all love the game, and the game is all we need to make friends. But just because you abstain from drugs or alcohol doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It takes more. Start working on yourself, and you’ll have a better time at these majors. I guarantee that.


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