Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Atari Rules.

I recently had the opportunity to do a guest post on the blog, Are You There God? It's Me Generation X.  This is an amazing field guide to Gen X and has been featured in national media.  The writer of the blog, Jennifer James, is an incredible person, writer, and photographer...


Here is the post I wrote...

The Atari Rules.

In the early 80s, when I was in early elementary school, I often went to the babysitter's with a group of kids all roughly my age.  She also had a toddler and two kids of her own.   The Toddler kept busy with tantrums and snacks of cheese and crackers.  The Older Kids were teenagers and I was pretty sure they knew any given fact in the universe.  Mornings before school at their house consisted of watching Scooby Doo. 

Word on the street was that The Older Kids were going to get an Atari.  It was decided immediately that The Toddler, known for breaking things, would go nowhere near it.  I knew I was going to have to do some serious convincing or they might not let me near it, either.  After weeks of intense back-porch negotiations, it was decided that once the Atari showed up, I could go watch The Older Kids play, and that I might be allowed to playfor a minute if I followed the ATARI RULES LIST.

The ATARI RULES LIST went something like this:

1) Do not touch the console.

2) Do not hit the reset button on the console while The Older Kids are playing.

3) Do not stare at the console for too long, because you might become tempted to touch it.

4) Do not complain, make unreasonable demands, or even talk, while in the presence of the Atari.

The anticipated day finally came.  I arrived at the house as the morning sun spilled through the window illuminating harvest gold and avocado green items in the kitchen.  I wanted to sprint down the hallway to the room where the Atari was, but I needed to be nonchalant as I entered the presence of The Older Kids as they played the game.

And behold...of my Gen X childhood memories, this is one of the most monumental: walking across the shag carpet of a hallway to see Atari for the first time as it was being played on a black-and-white TV.  The asteroids floated by and a spunky little spaceship was shooting at them like crazy.  My eyes had been introduced to the pixels.  My ears had been introduced to the digital sounds.

I hovered in the doorway.

They hesitated.

I made it clear that their beloved Atari was safe, because I was abiding by the ATARI RULES LIST.  They let me play although I proved to be an amateur asteroid blaster.  When my time was up they asked me to hand the joystick back.  Weeks of negotiations only led to a few fleeting moments with the game, but Iknew that they saw how much I loved it and that they'd eventually let me play some more.  I also knew that morning I had been introduced to something amazing.  I walked back to the living room to watch Scooby Doo with The Younger Kids and brag about my morning galactic encounter. 

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