Just how important is pinball anyway, really? I debated for 20 years if I could justify the expense. I didn’t think I could maintain one, so I knew I wanted a NIB (new in box.) Even then, it’s mechanical and I worked in maintenance as an analyst mostly for 25 years, so I understand that there is preventative maintenance and repairs, and it’s not cheap. How could I ever decide on a pin? That’s a lot of dough when you finally do pull the trigger. Won’t I get tired of just one pin? I had better be really freaking sure on the title. So, back in 2019, I happened upon a game trailer for Jurassic Park. OMG! When I saw the Premium T Rex actually eat the pinball and spit it out on the playfield, I was like, that’s the ONE. THIS IS IT and I put $1000 down from OC Pinballs on my lunch hour that day seconds after seeing the trailer! Then I waited 6 months to get it, but the day they brought it to my house and set it up was one of the happiest days of my life. Then the pandemic hit. I played over 7600 balls, myself. The machine wasn’t even leveled right after a while, and wasn’t corrected after my first service call. Tough machine! I kept thinking that there must be something wrong with me, never had so much trouble with any pin I ever walked up to on location. Modern Sterns ain’t yo mama’s 90’s pin, especially NOT JP Premium! BUT, I freakin LOVED it anyway. 18 months later, it was time for something new. Not sure how I found out about Pinside, but the guy that bought my pin pointed me to Gerald, and Gerald made all my pinball dreams come true. He told me about trading pins, buying used pins, taught me some basic maintenance, showed up when I had pinball emergencies, YES, pinball emergencies are real, like when I dropped the playfield on my new GZ premium and bent the shit out of everything. Gerald always shows up and helps out. I made LOTS of deals and trades with Gerald and learned how to take the glass off and unstick a ball, how to do all the little things we take for granted as pinball enthusiasts. Hey, when you’re a woman over 50 getting your first machine, it takes a little time, someone nice like Gerald, and a LOT of courage to tackle simple maintenance on a big scary 200 lbs mechanical monster. If I didn’t absofreakinlutely LOVE it, I NEVER would have done any of it. BUT, I can remember the first time I saw the shiny metal balls in pachinko machine and couldn’t get enough at 3 years old. I remember when I was a senior in high school and my boyfriend dragged me to the arcade every day after school and I was bored to death until he agreed to teach me to play pinball. Firepower II, Pinbot, High Speed! And then I dragged him to the arcade after I won my first free game!!!! OMG. Pinball is the greatest FUN! After that, I kept my eye open for a pin everywhere I went, and they were few and far between, but I could win a game after putting a few quarters in usually. Hard for a woman to explain a pinball obsession, so I would have to find a way to sneak away from friends and family if ever I saw a pin somewhere while out. I didn’t play much pinball all my life, but I sure LOVED it whenever the stars aligned for an hour and I could find one to play. AND THEN, when I was 51 I FINALLY allowed myself my secret pleasure. I think I paid $7800 for my JP Premium delivered, the price of a good used car. How the Hell do you justify some game for that kind of money? Maybe men can justify their toys a little better than women can, not sure. It was one of the best things I ever did for myself. And it didn’t matter how weird my friends and family thought it was once I finally got that machine in my house. I remember the first time I held one of the shiny heavy round metal balls in my hand, wow, amazing…not sure why. But I never through away the old ones when they’re nicked or rusty, I just keep them. It’s a great thing to have a bunch of them in a big clear container. Gerald once told me that he gives an old pinball to new customers and they marvel at holding one in their hand so I know I’m not the only one LOL. And now? I cycle as many pins through my doors as I possibly can. I just want to play them all, and having one in your home and access to it 24/7 is a completely different experience than playing one on location. Things are different now with brewcades, and I can go play a pin on location close to home and it’s awesome. BUT, having a pin in my house, adjusting it, modding it, dialing it in, learning the rules, exploring the world under glass and spending some quality time with a new pin is extraordinary. I never had hobbies per se, just goals, and work, and family commitments. Pinball actually changed my life. I can’t play serious pinball when drinking, casual pinball is ok with a few drinks. In other words, I don’t need or want to alter myself to enjoy pinball. If I’m troubled I can bang a ball around, but cannot get into the flow. I have to clear my mind to really enjoy the best pinball play, and that has been a great gift. So how important is pinball really? It’s paramount to my well being and enjoyment of life. It’s something expensive that I do for myself. It’s something I am crazy about and love. I can sell a pin at or near what I paid for it usually if I need to, and I buy and sell them every month or two. I don’t have to get the best deals as long as it’s sustainable, I meet a lot of great people along the way. I recently joined a women’s pinball league. I have a hard time in groups, but I keep at it because playing all those pins with others that love pinball as much as I do is weird and wonderful. I hope to be able to play with the men too soon. Tough to play pinball with so many people yelling and all the different personalities, keep a revolving commitment. BUT, pinball for me is the gift that keeps on giving, teaching me new skills along the way and enriching my life in more ways than I could have even imagined. Oh yeah, I remember how I found out about Pinside…I bought a piece of invisiglass and did not want to keep the old glass because I was afraid it would break so I listed it on Craigslist for $20. Pinball Bill answered my ad in like 20 minutes and bought the glass. He was great friend for a short time. Easy to forget that just because we share a love for pinball we might not see eye to eye on politics. There is NO room for politics in our love for pinball. And we don’t have to be the same to be friends and enjoy pinball and life together. Just another lesson this pinball journey has taught me. Is pinball worth it? Absolutely. Pinball is such a great joy in my life, and it keeps teaching me all kinds of skills, even at my age.