The Joys of Arcade Ownership

I need clarification 10/31/2005 


So, in 1997 or so I was recently broken up with my live-in girlfriend, had a new place all to myself, and had just started at Activision, making decent money for the first time since being a waiter. The Internet was booming, e-tailers, eBay, and specialty message boards teemed with items for sale, and people were riding around on those bikes with the giant wheel in front and the tiny one in back (wearing top hats)(thanks for that awesome joke, Worm).

So, obviously I was looking for something to waste my money on, something cool and unique that would finally give me a personality. I don't like snakes or lizards, so I decided to get an arcade game. But WHICH arcade game?

In my legendary youth, I was enamored of the laser disc game M.A.C.H. III, to the point that even though it cost four tokens, I played it nonstop every weekend, all weekend, down at the local shopping mall's Aladdin's Castle. What better way to prove my individuality and undying hipness than to get one of my own for my apartment?

I found a site online that traded in arcade games, and sure enough a guy on there had a MACH III for sale. This wasn't the pussy stand-up cabinet. No, this was the fucking full-on Air Force-approved COCKpit version. I bought the cabinet, a new (used) laserdisc player from another site, and TWO copies of the disc itself, just in case.

I got the measurements of the cabinet from the seller and found that it would fit nicely against one wall of my livingroom, blocking the sliding glass doors that opened onto my pathetic balcony, a worthy sacrifice for having such an icon of coolness. While waiting for the console to arrive via Forward Air, I plugged the laserdisc player into my TV and watched the background video from the disc. Man, I couldn't wait to start playing some MACH III.

Finally I got word that the console had arrived and was waiting for me at the Forward Air facility. I rented a pickup truck and two Mexicans and headed down to pick it up. When I got there I realized the console was bigger than I thought it would be. No worries, we loaded it into the truck and headed back to my place, me already feeling a little bit cooler, the Mexicans asking again and again what it was we were hauling. Arriving at my apartment building, we unloaded the cabinet and began pushing it through the garage (no problem), into the lobby (minimal problems), and then onto the elevator (big problems, overcome by pure Mexican strength). Once we got it onto my floor, we had to navigate the narrow hallway which was filled with gratuitous right-angle turns. We gouged out some of the walls and disturbed the neighbors, finally reaching the doorway of my apartment. From here, things got considerably more complicated. It was becoming evident that the game was simply not suited to my suddenly tiny apartment, but we'd come this far. The Mexicans twisted and turned the game, rotating it end over end until they finally worked it into my apartment and placed it against the sliding glass door.

"This is horrifying," I said to the Mexicans. "It's too big."

"Que?" they replied.

But this was the life I'd chosen. This was who I was - a guy who owns an arcade game, and not just a (relatively) small one, but a fucking huge one.

I drove the Mexicans back to their corner and dropped off the truck and returned to my apartment. When I walked in and saw the cabinet again, I got physically ill. The game seemed to be growing, dominating my entire living room. I wasn't a cool guy with an arcade game in his living room, I was a loser who built his apartment around a fucking arcade game. I couldn't even think about it, much less look at it. I devised elaborate walking paths through the apartment so I could safely ignore the hulking, rotting, splintering wooden cabinet that was now the second occupant of my shoebox.

One day I decided I would gain the upper hand on the video game by getting it working and enjoying it. After spending two hours and three rolls of paper towels wiping off the incredible amount of dust that had somehow accumulated on it, I plugged it in and flipped the "on" switch. Even as I remembered the original seller telling me he hadn't quite got the electronics working yet, I heard a loud BANG and the entire building went dark.

That did it. I was done with this fucking mess. I debated breaking my lease and moving out without telling anyone, leaving the next tenant or property manager to deal with my mistake, but instead decided to just let it sit there and not worry about it. Eventually I found a place here in California that restored games and offered it to them FOR FREE, as long as they would take care of picking it up, which they agreed to. They came over to reverse-engineer the moving-in process, but not being skilled Mexican workers they were stymied with the game cabinet halfway out the door, completely blocking the hallway. My neighbors (including the hot girls across the hall - CURSES!) were forced to crawl through the cockpit to get to their apartments. Finally, one of them returned with a crowbar, and my dreams of the last nine months were answered. I blacked out after tearing the third piece of wood off the beast, and when I came to I was sitting in a pile of splintered wood, grinning like an idiot. Finally, I'd realized some amount of recreational joy from this game. The game restorers picked up the wood, the laserdisc player, the laser discs, and the precious PCB board and headed off, up the coast, where they would presumably reconstruct another monstrosity with which to infect some unsuspecting young(ish) soul.

The fucking end.

I need clarification