Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thirty Days of Glory

Was cruising around Wil Wheaton’s blog tonight, and read a posting about classic ‘80s video arcades – the kind which hardly exist any longer due to home gaming systems.

But reading other posters’ nostalgic comments raised a memory of my late dad bringing my brother Scott and myself to a small local arcade in Naperville around 1981, which like many gaming stops then, had little white cards atop each cabinet displaying the high-score of the month.

While I grew pretty good at various games growing up (Punch-Out, Crazy Climber, Ms Pac-Man, Popeye) out of simple practice--pumping quarter after quarter into a game until I almost mastered it--my play was never as good as other hotshots who posted ridiculously high scores on most games.

However, at the aforementioned arcade, Scott and I found a little game called “Knightmare” featuring dual joysticks controlling knights at the top and bottom of the screen battling an endless parade of hungry dragons. And though we technically weren’t supposed to, Scott and I teamed up on the game, with each of us taking one knight in the fight.

After fifteen minutes we were doing well—very well, in fact--and had begun stacking up a decent supply of free men.

Fifteen minutes after that, we were going just as strong, and decided to go for the monthly game record – this, as our dad sat by with saint-like patience amidst all the digital noise because he knew how important it was to us to get our names on that high-score card.

Ninety minutes later, our wrists aching, Scott and I finally punched through – and though we could have conceivably kept stacking up points for much longer, we decided to quit and let our dad off the hook.

The arcade manager came over with his blank card, and told us only one of our names could be listed as high-scorer. I let Scott have the glory for thirty days, not because I was Albert Schweitzer, but because he was a good teammate.

The point of all this is a little tribute to our late father - God knows a lot of dads wouldn’t have stuck around so their kids could get break a small record.

But the fact that ours did just that, despite being bored to tears – no doubt, is a simple testimony to what a wonderful guy he was.

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