It's certainly changed since we've grown up. I can't say it has gotten smaller, but I remember that walk from Jenkinsons South to Frank's used to feel like an eternity. And dammit, Frank's took those big huge scary clown faces off of the awning of the arcade. We hit the bar near the aquarium, had a beer, and decided to stroll the boardwalk for a while, looking for pinball. We found 2 machines in Frank's: a Monopoly pinball machine that was unplugged, and a Twilight Zone.
While I love Twilight Zone the show, I really don't like the pinball game. I get a lot of heat for this, since it seems to be a popular one, but I don't like the pacing, I don't like the placement, and for god's sake, I hate that rubber ball. We played it a few times, patronizing it if you will, before watching a few of the locals play DDR and hitting the planks again. We went into the middle Jenkinson's Arcade (they're all named Jenkinsons in one form or another) and found an entire row of pinball in the back. Five, if I remember correctly. But there it was, in the middle: my favorite, my baby. The Addams Family Pinball Game.
Taking this story even further back, allow me to expand upon my love for the Addams Family Pinball. Picture it: Chester, New Jersey, 1994ish. calamine_tea and I were working at the Chester Flea Market harking and scooping Italian Ice. Before climbing into the Firebird and cranking a bit of Rage Against the Machine (hey, shut up. We were 16. We didn't know any better), we'd stop into the arcade in the Chester Springs Shopping Center to meet up with Pookie for some pinball and a few games of pool. I'd usually play about $5 worth of Addams Family every Sunday. I kept a log in my purse of my high scores. If memory serves, my highest game that year was 119 million.
When Gamer and I walked into Jenkinsons those 2 short weeks ago, it was the first thing I saw, as if a halo of light pooled around it calling to me. I pumped in about 5 credits worth of quarters and away I played. But the halcyon days of my pinball career were long gone. I was slumping and slumping bad. 9 million. 17 million. 13 million. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I was getting ready to quit, but when I saw that Gamer was fighting his way to the title belt at Tecmo Wrestling, I decided that I wasn't going to leave until I at least got the replay score, which was at a pathetic 42 million. A few games later, I got it, and I was satisfied, comfortable in the fact that the good old days were gone, and that I was out of practice. We got another beer and went back to Grandma's.
This past weekend, my mom and I went on our annual trip together to Wrightsville Beach, NC. We get the same room in the same hotel every year, and the plan works out that I fly down to Raleigh, she picks me up with the car all set and ready for the weekend, and we make the hour and a half or so drive to the beach straight from the airport. I touched on how awesome the weather was, how much fun we had, and how great the water was, but I failed to mention how tan I got. Everybody's got to have a mutant ability, mine has got to be my uncanny tanning skills. Even when I went to Hawaii with Dale, the local native Hawaiians even complimented me on how well I tanned, and how the rest of the haoles just come out and burn. They knew.
Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel, planned on going to the beach for a while, going to a beachcrap store, and getting some breakfast. This year, the pier that they had been building since mom and I started this tradition was finally completed and open to the public. As we were packing up the car, I noticed a sign that said "Now Serving Breakfast" at the new snack bar on the pier. I suggested that we eat there rather than make a special trip, and mom was all for it. The pier is brand shiny new, and a long overdue addition to the beach point. We opened the door, and there it was: bathed in a halo of light, beckoning me. Addams Family Pinball.
I squealed with delight and told my mom what I had found, ordered my breakfast and put 3 credits in the machine. Considering the caliber of games I had been playing the week before, I thought I'd go through that dollar in no time. A while later, mom came over to tell me that our meals were ready and she had them on the table. I was still on the first ball of my first game, having already won two extra balls and was in the middle of my second multiball. I think I can come out and say it: it was my best game ever. Final score: 154 million.
I returned to my patiently waiting mother and wolfed down my breakfast, hoping that no one would play the remaining credits that were on the machine, apologized to her for being distracted, but she said that the look of total glee and elation on my face was worth it. I got back to the machine to find all of my credits there. I managed to get five games out of that dollar (both of the extras were from replay scores, no matches), got a total of 4 or 5 extra balls, broke 100 million twice.
But the best part was how it all came back. All of the sound bytes were right there in my head. I knew exactly what to do when I heard what. I knew what sound was going to play when I hit the right thing. It made perfect sense, and I was one with the game.
Best. Game. Ever.