This post is dedicated to Charter Oak offensive coordinator Dom Farrar, who once said he wanted to follow me around and see what a normal week in the life of a prep sportswriter was like.
There was just no way I could avoid stopping by Golfland before covering the Mountain View at South El Monte baseball game on Wednesday.
No, I didn’t want to play golf. I wanted to play Galaga. You see, places like Golfland are more than cheap entertainment venues for the masses. Guys like me know they’re also video game graveyards where decades old machines like Galaga still haunt a corner of the room.
Since it was 2:45 p.m. and first pitch wasn’t until 3:15, I knew I had more than enough time to get a few games in.
Upon walking in to the arcade, I headed for the back. Before I could scan the wall for Galaga, I was greeted by a teen couple making out. Freshmans, maybe sophomores. Uh yeah hi, don’t mind me, I am actually here to play the games.
As I got past them, I was greeted by another duo of soon-to-be-parents-if-they-don’t-watch out. This couple looked at me as if to say “What’s your problem?” Again, I thought, I am just here to play the games.
And then there it was. Staring me right in the face … the hallowed Galaga machine.
Nevermind that there was some semi-passed out teenage girl leaning on the machine, playing it I thought.
I casually turned around to find something else to play while this girl concluded her daze or buzz or high. But of course all I saw was three teenage couples … two of which were now closely negotiating second base.
I thought: You’ve got so much time to ruin your lives, why start now?
That’s it, I thought, the only way I can make myself useful in here is to either hand out Planned Parenthood brochures or kick Ms. Dazed and Confused 2006 off of the Galaga machine and get the quarters rolling.
I crept up to her and said “Are you playing, because I’d like to.” This girl was literally asleep on the machine, no joking. She woke up and left without a word. Next time, sleep on something worthless like Pole Position, I thought.
The couples quasi-stopped their sessions and stunningly looked at me actuailly attempt to play a game like what most people who aren’t attempting to escape the watchful eye of school administrators so they can practice what they think they know about sex do in an arcade.
First quarter – nothing. Second quarter – nothing. Is there any way a machine sporting a 1981 copyright would actually still feature a working change release button?
It worked and when I bent down to retrieve my quarters (half defeated) I read the best financial news I’ve digested in years. “This machine takes nickels only,” a sign read. Say what? Something from my childhood actually costs five times less than it did in the ’80s?
What would the Galaga gods think if they knew this? Was I the only who remembered the most intimidating thing a kid in an arcade could see in the 80s – a 50-cent video game? Dragon’s Lair anyone?
Galaga had gone the other way, though. And I would’ve paid a dollar!
By this time the couples had left. Or maybe they moved on to night club life early.
My first game was under way. The bees came down. I didn’t hit as many as I used to. My first two stages produced no double fighters because I blew all the mother ships to smithereens (pure rust).
I did poorly in the challenge stage and soon my allotment of fighters was gone. Another game, same result. By this time it was nearing first pitch and the Mission Valley League title was on the line. I left for the high school.
What a game! Two great pitching performances. Some amazing defense. It all made for a great day with some major conclusions.
1. Arcades, as we knew them, are on their last leg. Galaga coming down in price is a sign that machines like or Frogger or QBert or Ms. Pac Man are nearing extinction.
2. My recent experiences on high school campuses or their adjacent surroundings have bordered on all-out orgies and I feel bad for administrators because this can be a major problem that I am not too sure many people want to touch. (By the way, a usually on-campus experience comes at night when the young turks have calmed down and it’s time to play basketball or football.)
3. High school baseball games are still one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.