this game ROCKED!
when it came out I was just years away from being that same ambitious paperboy
only I was not hip, cool, or cute on a BMX bike with a shoulder sachel
I was a tall lanky geek on a Sturmey Archer three speed with a Brooks Saddle and a Shenadoah Pride milk crate strapped to my rear rack with bungee cords
it was a ricketty old machine
fenders were always rattling loose
gears were popping
the brake pads usually lasted about four or five pulls on the brake levers
luckily they were only a buck fifty a pair

in many ways my reality was not far off from these fantasy games

as I delivered the papers I would set personal challenges....
scoring of sort....
timing myself on my high tech LCD watch with stop watch function
monitoring my progress at different stages of the course
cursing the houses with special request.....

"rubber band my paper"
"please put paper between screen door and front door"
"please no more news papers in my box bushes..."
"can I get my paper dry?"
"can you make it so the wind does not take my paper away"

racing as quickly as I could to beat the worst request..

"deliver to my house first rather than last...."
anticipating and escaping that leashless dog
moving stealthy up and across the lawns of customers who I know would frown on such behavior

maybe if the tips were better people would have been able to get their unique requests
the Washington Star had its advantages....
it was an afternoon paper...
it was a thin little paper.... even on Sundays... (weekends were mornings)
the paper boy had to collect from the subscribers (an advantage with devious results)
the Washington Star was less popular than the Washington Post so the customers were not every house... they were not even every other house.... the Star customers were a random splattering about!

it was a fun job
as parents claim.... it was a character building experience

looking back I really enjoyed it
it was not uncommon for Paper Boys to actually be boys in that era
times have changed

in suburbia....
news papers are delievered by men in station wagons...
which in my era only happened when the paper boy over slept, when the weather was completely aweful, or if the paper boy had a convincing whine (oh, I do not think my dad ever gave into any of those things, but I remember seeing other fathers fall for those excuses)
during that era as well..... local neighborhood boys cut the lawns and shoveled the walks
there was still a tad bit of that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn left in society
kids were more like the gathering of kids in the Our Gang films than the children of X Box and Sega...

a handful of years ago I was at a wedding in Boulder Colorado and some random bar had a fully functional Robotron machine
I played some college kid
he had skill
without playing that game in over ten years.... I challenged him to a game betting 20 bucks...
he beat me and his personal best in one move
glad I could inspire him and take him to the next level
if I recall....
he bought drinks with that money
so we both won!

and of course.... DEFENDER was perhaps the best of the best.....
those were the days when with enough skill you could play forever
twenty five cents could be shared between several players
then the industry wised up
the next wave of games were more of a coin fed rather than coin operated mechanism
skill would take you to higher levels
duration was still limited
addition coins added to the mix was an inevitable process

video games were an excellent escape
not entirely unlike a drug
a trip to a different world leaving this earth behind
it was a wonderful place

I can recall being late for grade school so I could play Asteroids at Dart Drug in the old Grand Union location...

coffee is in my belly
best I put on some socks... walk the dogs.... and head off to work
too wet to feel the urge for a prework ride, yes I will ride, but not an extended ride
my throat hurts and I am feeling lazy

I fear the internet resourses....
as I realize that there are all sorts of internet game sites that have computer versions of these games that run using SHOCKWAVE
years ago I recall some of them lacked the power to be played on a Mac (but not I have a PC laptop from work... so I guess if I was really curious)

the coin operated box was much more organic than the home computer
the joy stick and the fire buttons were far superior to the keyboard and mouse
the burn marks on the video game dash board
the cracks in the plastic from a passionate punch
the dents and dings on the machine from an eager child who craved their quarters back

No comments: