I went to my Granddaddy’s house recently. I hadn’t visited since I was just a young FPS and our relationship was becoming dusty; a little moth-eaten by the ravages of many years. Other, more exciting, parts of my life had seen Granddaddy’s visits sadly compromised and pushed further back on my list of priorities. Though I never forgot about him. Then, one morning, he called with an invitation to afternoon tea. He said he had something for me. With a pang of warm remembrance I decided it best to clear away the cobwebs of time and renew the fondest of my old family acquaintances.
Upon arrival I was both comforted and saddened to see that nothing had changed since my last visit. As I followed him through the hallway towards the main part of the house I pondered whether, in fact, he’d simply rearranged everything prior to inviting me so it would resemble another time we had shared together. Surely this was the reason behind the sensation of familiarity I was feeling. He must have moved on with his life over the years and become someone…different, if not new. Granddaddy was old, but not without the ability to evolve. We all evolve. I had.
The heat of the lounge almost swallowed me as Granddaddy pointed an arthritic finger towards my old favourite chair and then shuffled off towards the kitchen. He hummed a dramatic tune merrily to himself as he left; he was obviously very happy to see me. And, even though everything around me spoke volumes about Granddaddy’s sad, stilted and desperate time alone, I was happy to see him too.
The visuals in the lounge were like that of every other Grandparent’s home I’d ever been in. The layout of the room was predictable and uninspiring, the furniture and ornaments dull and repetitive. All the surfaces seemed coated with a thin layer of immovable grime that was either hiding blemishes or was an indication of laziness. Then again, is advanced age reason enough not to seek a bottle of polish and a dust-cloth? Perhaps his mobility wasn’t what it used to be. But, although he appeared shaky on his feet and had the tendency to become a little twitchy, Granddaddy still moved with all the zeal and purpose I remembered. Maybe he lacked some of the self-belief so prevalent during his more sprightly days.
Then I was abruptly jolted in my chair by a middle-aged man who was sitting quietly at the dining table. Why had I not seen him when I came in? He smiled at me openly and motioned his head to a huge chocolate gateau sitting before him. I immediately felt very uncomfortable. Who was this man? What was he doing in my Granddaddy’s house? With a gentle clearing of his throat, the gateau man lifted a knife from the table, cut three good-sized portions from the chocolate cake and placed them onto separate plates of their own. Licking some wayward cream from a finger he gestured for me to come to the table. I declined politely and remained in my chair.
At that moment, Granddaddy returned to the lounge carrying an old drum shaped tin. As he stooped down to me, struggling to prize off its lid, he chuckled a challenge in the direction of the gateau man. With a sudden rush of recollection I gasped at the writing on the side of the beaten and worn tin. It was Granddaddy’s Activision treat tin. And then I knew what he wanted to give to me; knew why he’d called me for a visit, why everything looked and felt the same.
He liked everything the way it was before.
He didn’t want things to be any different.
He wanted me to want it too.
The tin was full of ?id’ butterscotch candy. Their clear wrapping was printed with different names and titles, but I already knew from previous explorations into the tin that they all tasted exactly the same. I took a handful of the candies and smiled meekly at Granddaddy as he nodded knowingly and moved off towards the fire and his ancient rocking-chair. I sucked quietly on a Return To Castle Wolfenstein candy, its taste and flavour inspiring nothing more than a remembrance of times gone by. The chocolate cake suddenly began to look very appetising, but the gateau man was too busy eating his own slice to acknowledge my craving. Meanwhile, Granddaddy merely rocked gently in his chair, his eyes closed and his face calmed and relaxed.
Was this it? Was this all he’d invited me for?
A butterscotch candy?
Was there nothing fresh he wanted to bring to our relationship?
I didn’t have to be here!
He’d invited me!
The butterscotch began to spread an uneasy taste through my mouth. Its once wonderfully rich flavour was now nothing more than a cloying sense of yesteryear. I had to leave. I shouldn’t have come. This was a mistake. I crunched the last of the candy down my throat and rose from my seat. Granddaddy’s eyes blinked open, a look of panic and dismay became etched across his wrinkled features. He begged me not to leave and offered me more candy. I refused gently and groped for excuses. I said my goodbyes and headed back through the hallway, at which point the gateau man sniggered triumphantly and Granddaddy shot him a look of desperation and denial.
At the door Granddaddy pleaded for me to stay a little longer. He tried to tempt me with hidden levers and secret treasures and bonus items?but all the time he couldn’t see that I wasn’t that little FPS any more. Times had changed. I had changed. Granddaddy was almost sobbing as I hugged him on the steps; I had to ease him away in order to say my final farewell. Then, as I was turning to leave, I stopped and asked Granddaddy who the gateau man was. Through misty eyes he told me the gateau man was my Godfather, that he came around often and that they shared similar interests in life. Granddaddy asked whether I’d like to spend time with my Godfather from now on?seeing as he himself was perhaps a little too old. Tentatively I said that might be a good idea. Nodding through open tears and with his voice cracking on every word, Granddaddy told me I could find my Godfather, most days, at the Bungie Bakery on the high street and that I’d probably love their new chocolate speciality cake: Halo.