I’m not going to say it. You’ve seen it before: “Surname — first name, surname.”
My last name has too many syllables for that to be an effective introduction. Besides, there are other ways to show my love for James Bond.
I could gush about his swagger. His cars. His suits. Wit. Hand-to-hand combat skills. Gadgets. Propensity to attract desirable females. Courage. Marksmanship. Accent.
Or I could note that my biggest gripe about the guy is something so insignificant that it’s nearly a compliment: He persuaded an entire generation of martini drinkers to insist bartenders fix them a slightly inferior cocktail. (By opting for a shaken martini instead of a stirred one, a martini drinker requests a method of mixing that produces a colder drink but also one with more ice — which is chipped in the shaking process — which melts into water, diluting the drink.)
But my favorite thing about James Bond is the way by which I was introduced to him.
I first found out about a character whom I have now read multiple novels, seen multiple movies and written (so far) a third of a column through a video game: “Goldeneye 007” for Nintendo 64.
“Goldeneye” was a shooting game based on the film of the same title. The graphics were blocky, the plot a bit awkward, but it featured a multiplayer mode that split the TV screen into four so you and three of your friends could run around various worlds and shoot each other pretending to be Bond characters. Naturally, every kid I knew wanted to play it.
When I played the game for the first time, I was in grade school. I had never seen a Bond movie or read a Bond book and didn’t realize “Austin Powers” was a Bond parody (instead, a funny movie about transient British fellow with a puffy shirt). I was too young to see a Bond movie in the theaters, and, according to my mother, too young to be playing a Bond video game anywhere. I had no real business liking James in particular; I just wanted to kill my friends with virtual proximity mines.
Although I would have settled for anything of that nature, the game, as it turns out, was awesome — still heralded by knowers of video games as one of the best of its time. And I played the heck out of it (of course, when I was able to hide the digital contraband from my mother). “Goldeneye” became everyone’s favorite: to play at sleepovers, to argue about at the lunch table, to drive away girls at recess. I still have my favorite multiplayer settings, still remember player tendencies and still attribute my nearsightedness to squinting at one quadrant of a small television for hours upon hours.
All that time spent in the Bond universe inevitably rubbed off. I finally saw “Goldeneye” and read “Dr. No.” I learned quickly that I had a weakness for all things spy-related and that James was the spy golden standard. But as I devoured everything Bond, I always related things back to that video game (“I’d love to use that gadget in ‘Goldeneye.’”) or projected something from the video game onto them (“WHY CAN’T JAWS PLAY POKER AT THE CASINO ROYALE?”). I loved the game as a result, ended up loving the Bond franchise even more.
“Skyfall,” the newest film in the Bond canon, opens this weekend. I’ll be in the theater for sure, recounting and re-creating all those late nights when Dad would come down and yell at us to go to sleep. When I leave, I might be shaken if it doesn’t hold up to my lofty expectations, but I know my sense of nostalgia will be, yes (sorry), stirred.