Grandma: My Gaming Link To The Past, Part 1
After spending an hour with a maglight clutching the nearest bit of fodder I might have to use to club the specters undoubtedly waiting just around the next support truss of the roof to jump out and kill me, all the boxes had been searched with no luck.
It would be the garage, chock full of autumnal spiders coming in from the cold, where I finally found the damn thing. Our garage is separate from our house, and also contains its own creepy attic, which I thoroughly searched before checking the shelves around the sides. They say it's always in the last place you look, but I must have glanced at that stupid thing 50 times that day, dismissing it as full of dishes- for it was clearly marked with black ink "Dishes."
I was hoping to find some evidence of Grandma at the arcades in the 70's, some picture of her and her son Ralph hitting the Atari or the NES, but most of the pictures of her, even those dating back to the 1940's, are of hands furiously attacking camera lenses, with the other covering her face.
What I did find were old family shots, wedding photos, and her graduation picture- which appears to be a black and white print hand colored with pastels hues, common for the era. See, Grandma started gaming back when the first arcade games were at bowling alleys and movie theaters, and soon waiting for the kids to come out of the bathroom at the pitch of a Space Invaders machine became a ritual.
Understand the mentality of someone seeing an arcade game for the first time. It was a pinball machine with a television. Then came home arcade games. The Atari console, Sears even made one. Remember Socrates? Mom and Grandma picked one up for me (it came with full keyboard and two badly designed controllers) for "educational purposes." Then Grandma bought an NES (quite pricey back in the day, there Nintendo...) then she received a Genesis as a gift. The whole time I was allowed to play her games sometimes if I behaved. The first mature game both of us got into was Mortal Kombat, followed by Street Fighter (backwards, I know...) While I remember her playing River City Ransom and some Friday the 13th knockoff, renting the occasionally dust cover protected titles, I didn't get to play those until later.
Other than gaming systems, we were a bit behind the times in other technology. I remember removing Journey albums on the turntable to play the punch out records included in Happy Meal coloring books, we had a betamax player until the late 80's. Tapes were the shit; my first CD ever purchased was Counting Crows: August and Everything After. If it wasn't for Grandma's gaming habit, I might have been stuck listening to The Bengal's album "A Different Light" while my friends were discovering the joys of new Guns and Roses tunes raving about that Sonic the Hedghog.
Fate would not always be on my side it turns out, and Grandma's innate coolness would not always protect me from the cruel fuckers at Olan Mills circa 1986- who would later watch Napoleon Dynamite and wonder to themselves "...why is everyone laughing? Is this not how life is?"
To be continued....
--Ask Grandma Hardcore tonight at 9:00pm EST as usual. Grandma's getting nervous about the MTV thing, but she'll do fine I tells ya. Also- check out our new "OGHC's Ultimate Kickass Blogroll," and make sure your site is on it. A few of you e-mailed me for additions and I'm working on those now, but everybody else- look, don't be shy just say "here's my site- we talk about you so add our damn URL bitch! And make my button pretty!" Today I am your monkey Watch me dance. Before you say anything, yes, I realize there are some forum folks that browse OGHC, and yes, I realize the above picture is no doubt the very definition of "p0wn3d," but what can one do, eh? More stuff coming!!--