Title: 1236

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2004

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So old.

July 14, 2004
8:27 AM

I’m fairly certain the following events either have happened, or will happen, to everyone sometime in the future. The particulars will of course be different, but the overall theme will remain the same.

This afternoon, I took off from work at noon to take my brand new secondhand color laser printer to the repair shop. Seems some of the sensors are out of whack, and it refuses to believe me when I tell it that every panel door is securely closed and fastened. Printers just aren’t as trusting as they used to be. Anyway, I dropped it off at the printer repair place, and as they said they would have a look at it as soon as possible, I decided to stay around the area so I could pick it up afterwards. I had originally brought along a copy of Robinson Crusoe I’ve been intending to read again, but I realized that this particular repair shop was nearby to the Golfland Sunsplash Arcade. I haven’t been to a proper arcade in a while, and I’ve been jonesing to play some DDR for a while. Don’t get much of an opportunity lately, unfortunately.

So here I am, at an arcade/fun park, in the middle of a day on a wednesday, and the place is FULL of people. No, full of kids. Ten year olds, thirteen year olds, eight year olds, you name it. Oddly enough, some of them really weren’t that young… maybe as old as sixteen – but I couldn’t help but feel that everyone there but me was a kid. It was almost disconcerting. Here is a place that not four or five years ago, I would have LOVED to spend all day in. I would have felt at home. But I was there wandering the aisles of video games, surrounded by “Time Crisis” and “Dead or Alive” or some crap, and I was an OUTSIDER. I didn’t belong there. I got looks from some of the kids, just for being there. The wall where they have the toys you get for getting fifteen million tickets was no longer this pedestal upon which the unobtainable was perched, but a shelf with a bunch of Wal-Mart crap I would pass by in a second. And the sad thing is, none of it has changed. It’s the same arcade/fun center it’s always been. The only thing that had changed was me.

So I tried to shake it off. Hell, I’ve been playing video games longer than most of the people in there had been ALIVE. I was running around in Crystal Castles when they were in DIAPERS. There was nothing wrong with a grown man going to play some DDR. I’ve been playing it off and on for years. I located the DDR machine (Note to DDR afficianados: This machine did not have Afronova. This angered our hero.) and dropped in a few quarters. Not twenty seconds into “Rhythym and Police”, a group of 15-year olds comes over to watch. They’re making comments about how “amazing” I was doing, but it was obvious to anyone with listening comprehension skills that they were not complimenting me on my dancing prowess, but in fact mocking my lack of podiary dexterity. I mean, come on. Rhythym and Police is hardly the most difficult song on there, and I was far from doing perfect on it.

I once more brush it off, and continue to move on to Dynamite Rave, which was kind of a piddly song as well. I make a practice of doing the hard songs last, so I don’t fail and lose my money’s worth. So finally I pop on “Paranoia”. It was only a difficulty of five… I could DO this. I psyched myself up. And right when it’s about to start, an overweight eight year old steps onto the second platform, in order to try along with me, I suppose. As soon as arrows start flowing onto the screen at a rate that would make an auctioneer do a double-take, this kid becomes a blur of motion. I’m stepping all over myself, and this kid is ENTRANCED. Granted, he didn’t have arrows on his screen to tell me how he was doing, but you could tell, he was just in tune with it. There was no way he was missing. Then the screen became a jumble of arrows. It was like someone hit every button on the “arrow keyboard” at once. I was toast.

I literally just walked straight out the door of the place, and quickly to my car. I had a realization… I was not merely a grown man. Not merely an adult. No, I was Old. To everyone in there, I was the weird old guy who sucks, so wait for him to get out of the way so we can play. And I’m only 23. I never thought at 23 I would be feeling old, but there you have it. I can only imagine it’s downhill from here. Hell, in a few years, I’ll probably have to call in some kid to help me with my computer or something.

I felt the need to go from one extreme to another. If I can’t be a kid anymore, then dammit, I’m going to be CRAZY adult. I’ll show ’em. So I did the most adult thing I could think of. I located a Starbuck’s, ordered a coffee-flavored beverage, and popped open the laptop to write this rant. Frappucino on one side, cell phone on the other, I actually feel calm. I’m not getting any weird looks. I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I guess it’s just got to be accepted. I’m old, dammit. Now get off my lawn. I just replanted. And do you have any idea what footsteps can do to a growing lawn? I water twice a day, and I’m just barely getting the seeds to take root. And don’t even get me started on fertilizing.