Ol’ Sunnybuns was on my computer last night, the big screen making it more exciting for online gameplay.
He pushed back for a minute, to gather his wits and figure out his next move, and then started sifting through the stuff on my desk.
He picked up a lottery ticket.
“Have we won yet?” he asked.
I laughed heartily.
“Oh no ... we won’t win cause we don’t live in West Virginia or Kentucky!”
“Do they have their own lottery?” he asked with his brow cocked.
“No, it just seems like West Virginia and Kentucky seem to have more than their fair share of winners. Oklahoma too!” I said, folding towels.
“Well how come you keep buying lottery tickets then? Wouldn’t you be better off spending that money on a video game for me?” he asked with a bright smile.
“Honey, if we hit the big one, you can have any video game you want. I’ll even buy you an oldskool system like Atari, just for fun!”
It dawned on me that trying to explain an Atari system is like trying to explain how the pyramids were built. So simple and yet ... so daunting.
“Well, my dear, long before you were born, there was a gaming system called ‘Atari.’ It had various games that you could sit and play for hours.
The most popular one being ‘Pong.’”
“Pong? That sounds cool!”
“Yes, Pong. Pong was a game where you and another player sat on the floor and moved your joystick up and down, like in a game of pingpong.”
“Was it really fast?” he asked, eyes wide.
I stood there thinking about how ghastly slow the game of Pong was, something his little gigahertz brain could never comprehend.
“Well, it was kinda slow. It started off slow, but then would get fast, and it was really easy to get beat.”
He nodded his head.
“Mom, I could beat you one-handed.”
“You and everyone else in the neighborhood!”
He laughed and said, “What other games did you play back in the olden times?”
Yes. The Olden Times.
“Well, there was ‘DonkeyKong’ at the bar I used to hang out at. I could never get on ‘DonkeyKong’ though, ’cause all the stockbrokers would fight over it. It was how they used to let off steam. That bar made more money off the jukebox and ‘DonkeyKong’ than anything else they sold in there, even beer!”
“You used to hang out at a bar?” he asked, picking his eyeballs up off the floor.
“Oh yeah, not just one. But a few. Our favorite one, the one me and my friends used to hang at, was a block from where we worked. And it was three blocks from the train station. Perfect.”
“Oh. Well, what other video games did you have back in the olden times?”
There’s that phrase again. I was suddenly beginning to feel like Grandma Moses.
“Well, there was ‘Pac-Man’ ... and ‘Miz Pac-Man.’”
He got a little more excited and said, “Oh! Those are really fun games! They’re hard!”
He likes them because he’s always been a big fan of “the chase.”
“Yeah, one of my roommates was just a demon on ‘Miz Pac-Man.’ She worked at a bar on the weekends and when it was slow, she would sit and play that game as hard as she could. She got to be really good on it. I challenged her a couple of times, but even after she’d had a couple of drinks, she was still mad on it.”
He laughed and did his impression of a drunk person playing a video game. Very funny.
“Any others that you remember?” he wanted to know, now all excited about making fun of me and my olden-times friends.
“Oh, ‘Asteroid.’ I liked that one a lot. I played that every chance I got. You know I once worked at an arcade, right?”
“You did? You worked at an arcade?”
“Yes I did. Worst job I ever had. It was horrible. But I did it for about six months. That was all I could take of the noise.”
“Man, Mom! That’s so cool! What else did you play?”
“Pool and foosball. Got to be pretty good at foosball.”
“Did you drink beer?”
“No, not at the arcade. I would save that for later, when I got off work. Had to relieve the stress. So I would go down to the disco and have a beer and play air hockey.”
“Oh man,” he exclaimed, “I can’t wait til I’m old enough to be in the Olden Times!”
I laughed and said, “Twenty years from now, this WILL be the Olden Times. So enjoy it while you can!”
He nodded and got quiet for a second, looking at the lottery ticket he was still holding in his hand.
He read out loud off the bottom of the ticket, “Buy Millionaire Raffle before the ball drops!”
He looked at me sadly and said, “I wish mine would drop.”
It was all I could do not to scream laughing into the towel I was folding.
“Well, son. You just keep working on those video games of yours, and before you know it, you’ll be drinkin’ beer with me and beatin’ me in a game of foosball.”
I mean really ... what else could I say?