Monday, December 28, 2009

Games, Dancing, Ocean, Internet, Essence

I remember when video games first came out and were all the rage. Game rooms (and sordid stories about the backrooms of game rooms) sprung up in malls all over, including ours. Although I was grown and perhaps one of the oldest people in the game rooms, there was a certain joy to pumping quarters into Tempest (r) or Pac-Man (r). Kids began to gather outside of our game room to practice the latest break-dancing moves. I wasn't ever any good at break-dancing but I could moonwalk and also held my own on various dance floors. When I went to visit Philly Dave, part of the treat was going to the game room in his local mall. That game room is still there. Ours dwindled and died. Sigh. Philly Dave and I never went to dances together but we did go to his local pool and visited pools in various hotels across Pennsylvania.

I got the first computer after Philly Dave came into my life, and after that my first laptop. I discovered software that would allow for a game of chess or Q-bert (r) or Scrabble (r). I found Bookworm (r) on-line along with a ton of brain games after my t.b.i. happened. I became aware of multi-player online games but never got into W.O.W. (r) or any of those things. Then I found blogging and moved onto Second Life (r) which is described as a "game" but which I suspect more and more of being a social network of sorts.

As a kid, I played the usual collection of board games-- Candyland, Chutes n Ladders, Sorry, Operation, Monopoly (r, r, r, r, r). There must have been puzzles too although here I must confess that I don't remember them. And there was cards. My step-uncle taught me magic tricks using playing cards, my gram's Gypsy Fortune-Telling Book -- r-- (along with my gram and my aunt) taught me how to give primitive readings using playing cards, my dad and I played War and then Rummy 500 as I got older (I remember playing by the poolside on Cleveland Street in the summers), another step-uncle taught me how to be cutthroat at Gin Rummy, folks in a group home that I worked at taught me the finer points of Pinocle (r?).

I remember Skeeball (r) in a game room on the mall at Seaside Heights. One time after doing up some T.H.C. (or whatever substance it was that was pretending to be T.H.C.) with my hippy friend B.B. (hey dude, I still think about you even though I got clean since the last time I seen ya) in that game room I hallucinated a large wall of glass panes and a door along the open side of that game room facing the ocean. That particular game room existed long before "internet" became a household word. There were pinball machines but they were not digitized. And yeah, there were those tickets one could collect and exchange for cheap "prizes."

The boardwalk (Seaside Heights, and Asbury Park before it) was attractive because of the noise, the rides, the cold custard cones, and the smell of the ocean. The ocean was my other mother. I swam like a fish, danced with the sunlight on the waves, can still float for hours on end. The game rooms of my adulthood recall a certain ambiance, a certain je ne sais quoi that existed then-- the bathing of my senses, the stimulation, the feeling of utter aliveness. Drugs were a cheap way to another reality but the game rooms and the internet and the ocean and dancing did not hurt me when seeking my pleasure. The drugs stole my soul and almost my life. I still like turning the sound down on the television and blasting some good rock music on the stereo. I love dancing even though I have lost much of the fluidity that I used to have. All of these things-- game rooms, ocean, dancing, internet-- capture an essence for me. It is not quite as precious as being in the woods alone with my dog away from the hustle and bustle of daily living. But it is almost equally necessary.

sapphoq on life