Level One: Childhood.
I am five years old. I refuse to eat anything but fish fingers or chicken nuggets with chips, although anything covered in breadcrumps will do at a pinch.
I am Super Mario. My hair is so horrendous I need to keep it covered with a cap, and I’m getting overweight so I can squash you flat.
I play football at lunchtimes, always in goal, and I get my glasses broken twice. I back down from fights.
Level Two: Adolescence.
My smoking habit starts by stealing one of mum’s Richmonds from the bathroom, flushing the toilet to cover the sound of the lighter, and blowing the smoke out the window. Nobody is any the wiser.
I am still Mario, and try to convince my friends that a Nintendo 64 is clearly superior to a Playstation, but the fools don’t listen.
I try magic mushrooms after drenching them in honey, and soon the room becomes huge, with a certain odd quality of paper box about it. The flowers in the garden are formed by way of an intricate origami, although noone can see this but me.
And sex for the first time is a little like ticking a box, an exchange of bodily fluids and shame, my dignity along with my virginity lost.
Level Three: Adulthood.
Finally, after all that rigarmole with gel, quiffs, and spikes, I shave my head. I lose a few stone. I become a vegetarian, although I still enjoy beige food in breadcrumbs. I am no longer Mario.
Finally, I get a job. I type addresses from envelopes onto computers, my wrists twang with repetetive strain, and my boss yells with a tongue like a metaphorical whip whip sound as my brain melts.
Mr Drew, can’t you type any faster? We’ve got to get these biscuit samples on their merry way to Manchester!
I’m Mario again, and I desprately need help.
Mr Drew, can’t you enter the addresses more accurately? We’ve simply got to get these energy usage questionnaires on their jolly way to Southend on Sea!
This desk job’s messing with my health, and I’m accumulating little wealth.
Mr Drew, you need to just accept your fate, this is the most you will ever achieve, your dreams were never all that great, one day you’ll be in middle management like me!
Fuck you, Steve! In my eyes you represent Donkey Kong, Peter Piranha, Bowser and all his bastard kids. Now look at this (middle finger). I’d rather be a bloody goomba than work in middle management.
Mr Drew, there’s nothing else that you can do, you’re under qualified and low on self-esteem!
Fuck that, I’m quitting my job and living the real American dream: killing my boss on the way out. I’ll catch the barrels you throw so that you slip and fall to the ground a hundred feet below and snap your hairy monkey back, because I am Mario!
That’s right: I will never age, I will never change, I will never reveal what’s under my cap, I will never shave my moustache off, because I am Mario! And when I’m done, and bowser is defeated and the princess is naked and gagging for it, I’ll switch off. And begin again. Because no achievement is enough for me, and though my lives may be wasted on pratfalls, moving platforms and very small people, the levels where I struggled the most were the best of all.