Thursday, October 6, 2022

Meet the Characters: Mrs. Poole and Archnemesis Ryan Davis

Sega CD Summer is out! This is the fifth entry in my Meet the Characters Series

While Mr. James Glad is definitely an antagonist, he possesses little of the malice of Mrs. Poole and Archnemesis Ryan Davis, the banes of Tommy Guggenbiller's existence.

While Mr. Glad delights in weaseling his way out of tipping Tommy, Mrs. Loretta Poole lives for giving the poor paperboy the shaft. Although wealthy, she frequently skips out on her bill and is notoriously hard to catch during collection weeks. Let's just say it's no coincidence she's unavailable when the bill comes due.

She puts a "no soliciting" sign on her fence to discourage Tommy from dropping by. She makes him wait in the sweltering heat while she "goes to get her checkbook" and never comes back to the door. And she absolutely refuses to remember that "worthless" Benny Simmons is no longer the paperboy after Tommy takes over the route.

A tip from Mrs. Poole? Forget it.

She spends much of her time doting on her fearsome little Chihuahua, Mr. Barkerson. A ten-pound, shorthaired ball of aggression, Mr. Barkerson somehow has even more disdain for people than his master. He snarls and growls at anyone not named Mrs. Poole, although there was that one time he briefly let Tommy pet him.

Mrs. Poole's penchant for torturing Tommy isn't personal; she's not nice to anyone except Mr. Barkerson. 

It's an entirely different story for Ryan Davis, Tommy's ex-best friend. Tommy and Ryan spent a lot of their childhood together. They played video games all the time, went to each other's birthday parties, and starred on the same baseball team. 

For reasons unknown to Tommy, they had a falling out after ending up in different classrooms. Ryan became fast friends with Jeremy Radford, the new kid in town, and dropped Tommy faster than third-period French.

A fierce video game rivalry developed between the two, with Tommy choosing the Sega Genesis and Ryan going all-in on the Super Nintendo. Ryan's inflated sense of self-importance extended to Nintendo's 16-bit console, which he promoted with a reverence bordering on fanaticism (to be fair, Tommy loved his Genesis just as much).

Ryan made Tommy's life miserable, lording over him with SNES games like Street Fighter II and the Super Star Wars series. He took every opportunity to tell his former friend how great the Super Nintendo was and made it his mission in life to poke fun at Tommy's other friends, Kyle and Andy.

On the baseball field, Ryan is one of Wayne County's most talented players, boasting the area's best fastball and a powerful bat. During the events of Sega CD Summer, he ends up on a rival baseball team and serves as the book's main antagonist and Tommy's unconquerable adversary.

Basically, he's just a big jerk in that way burgeoning adolescents can be.

Perhaps Ryan became obsessed with becoming one of the popular kids in school and glommed onto Jeremy Radford. Perhaps his inflated opinion of himself led him down a narcissistic path. Perhaps his unvoiced insecurities turned him into a bully. 

Or perhaps he always was one.

Either way, he is Tommy's M. Bison or Shao Khan--the final boss to defeat before claiming ultimate victory.