I saw an old “friend” the other day. One I hadn’t thought about for years. The one who made me the man I am today. The one with wooden balls.
I used to eat, sleep, breathe, dream and somehow poop Skee-ball. I was obsessed with it. It was the best thing ever. It was like a video game, but if you did well enough at it, you could get candy.
In my mind, it was the best invention since Cocoa Puffs (let’s be real here, chocolate for breakfast is amazeballs).
Sometimes, when I was alone and couldn’t sleep, I’d imagine the sounds of game. The whir of the ball rolling forward. The slight “whump” of take of. The clunk of a landed shot. The blaring siren. The chugging ticket dispenser.
When I was growing up, we would vacation every summer at a resort on Bear Lake. It had everything a well rounded kid could want: swimming, boating, basketball, slides and much more.
I also had everything I could want: an arcade.
An arcade complete with three Skee-ball machines. I spent the entire month leading up to our trip scrimping and saving so that I would have plenty of money for Skee-ball. It was hard work - Idaho was probably going through a recession or something - but I finally saved up an amount unheard of by me at that time.
As we drove down, I planned out the endless goodies that I would buy with my ticket winnings. It was a perfect plan. All I had to do was roll the balls into the smallest hole and these foolish adults would shower me with gifts. I would take them for everything they were worth.
Or at least I would if I were any good a Skee-ball.
All that working, planning and dreaming came down to rolling 108 balls, ten minutes of frustration and enough tickets for five tootsie rolls.
This was a rip off, an outrage and disaster all at once. I fully planned to stomp out that door, never to enter an arcade again. Half way through my third stomp though, I saw something. Something that would change my minds, my plans and my world.
Street Fighter 2.
And with that, I had something new to eat, drink and poop for the rest of my life.