Yesterday, I was standing around with two of the guys I'm working with (OK, we were smoking out on the fire escape), and they started talking about video games. Guy #1 says he was never really into video games and didn't play them much as a kid. Guy #2 says when he was a kid, there was only one of his friends who had a Nintendo and the rest of the kids on the block would gather in a circle behind his couch to watch him play. (Q: How many Teamster's kids does it take to play a game of baseball? A: Teamster kids don't play baseball; they take folding chairs to the park and sit around watching the other kids play.)
I think I got my first video game when I was about 35. When I was a kid, I had a stick!
Here's the deal. When I was actually a kid, there were pinball machines. They were entirely mechanical and the numbers were on little wheels that rolled over to keep your score. Eventually, the numbers became digital. I think I was in college before I regularly played anything that could actually be considered a video game. It weighed 300 lbs. and it stood in the corner at a pizza place a couple of blocks from Kenmore Square. I think it was called Brickles.
My college friends and I would go get really greasy cheese-steaks at the pizza joint and feed minor fortunes worth of quarters into that damned machine trying to get the high score. Eventually we'd have to go home to the dorms (where we had stereos that played LP's on vinyl and CDs were still almost a decade in the future).
Like I said, when I was a kid, I had a stick...and I liked it. We also had bicycles. We used to have races around the circular driveway in front of the Wolfs' house. Nobody ever officially won. The big kids would usually lap the little kids a couple of times and as they were closing in on the finish line, since they were approaching lapping the little kids again, it would looked like they were behind the little kids, and the outcome of the race would dissolve into screaming and a little hitting and a little crying and.... We had some conceptual problems with how to count who had completed how many laps. My stick would have come in handy but I never thought to bring it to a bike race.
We didn't have helmets or any kind of pads. My oldest brother wiped out once and lost a tooth. Mom threw the tooth into a glass of milk and hauled him off to the dentist while the rest of us just ran the next scheduled races. (Going to the dentist in those days hurt! I won't exactly compare it to having a limb amputated while biting on a leather strop, but still...)
We had cap guns. I could wear my holster and my two guns to school if I wanted to. (I probably had to leave the caps at home, though.) We liked our cap guns just fine, but we discovered that if you put the roll of caps on the concrete driveway and hit it really hard with a hammer, they'd all go off at once. That made a much more satisfying BANG! I know we never had any adult supervision for this and I also know that nobody had a problem with us blithely bashing the shit out of (admittedly small) explosives in our front yard.
At one point I decided to become an artisan. I'd take a bunch of fishing weights (pure lead), smash them flat with a hammer (damn that was a fun hammer), and then engrave crap into the resulting medallions with a chisel. Ahh...craftsmanship blending beauty and toxicity!
There was a creek we used to play in in a neighbor's back yard. OK, it was a drainage ditch and you'd have to dig an indentation in the bottom to make it deep enough to put your face into it to drown, but still...
I don't want to sound too much like an old fart, but I've seen some kids around lately who could probably afford to spend some quality time with a good stick.