One of my favourite arcade memories is the day that Cyclone arrived at my local arcade in 1983. I had never seen the inside of a pinball machine, and I was able to watch the arcade manager set up the game. I remember Lenny, the local weed dealer and pool shark, an Italian guy of about 40, always dressed slightly 70s pimp, was standing and commenting about the game to the manager. They were talking about the ferris wheel and how it was engineered and how the scoring appeared to work in relation to the ramps. A small crowd had developed around the game.
After it was set up and ready to go, Lenny plugged quarters into the game and turned around, looking at the small group. I was thirteen and didn't smoke weed or know him, but he had seen me around the arcade almost daily.
"You want in?" he asked.
Stupidly not understanding his offer, I said, "I don't have any money."
I'll never forget Lenny's big-toothed grin below his slender mustache.
"You're in" he said, pushing the start button.
"Hurry, hurry, step right up!"
We played quite a few games, with him talking about the shots and debating the best way to approach the game. He destroyed me every game, which was my first lesson about ball control and serious strategy. I learned a ton from him.
I was a lower-middle-class kid and could often be found in that arcade searching the coin-returns for a free quarter or two. Now and then, Lenny would come in through the back door, droopy-eyed, and he'd wave me over to play pinball with him. He was such a nice guy and funny as hell. Crude, but sharp and witty.
I'm now a professional and find that almost everyone I work with is not from the lower-middle-class. It's funny that I used to be ashamed of my prior status, thinking that I was short-changed in some way (no pun intended).
Now I fondly reminisce about the arcade days, the days when replays and matches enticed bonding celebrations, the days when I developed relationships over magical mechanical games.
What about you? Do you have any cool arcade memories?