Being a writer means I have to open myself to as much sensory input as possible, as often as possible. It's like I have this giant sticky drift net that's always open around me, trapping sights, smells, feelings, and sounds which will jar loose some long - forgotten memory, or find their way into some future work of fiction.
My son is home from college, visiting briefly before he goes back for his summer session, so I've been making a concerted effort to cram as much writing as I can into limited working hours each day, so my evenings are free to spend with him and the rest of our family. This weekend, my wife and I took him out to dinner, where I found myself in front of a Centipede arcade machine, drawn there by the unmistakable sound of the player earning an extra guy.
Something caught in the mental driftnet, and I began to reel it in. "I have to play this," I said, doing my best not to be as manic as Richard Dreyfuss behind a pile of mashed potatoes.
They looked at each other, warily. "Okay..." my wife said.
I dropped a quarter into the slot, felt the trackball fit comfortably beneath my right hand, and began to play. By the time the first flea dropped, I'd retrieved a childhood memory from the early '80s.
Arcade games - the actual cabinets that took actual quarters - were ubiquitous throughout my childhood. After about 1978, you couldn't walk into a fast food restaurant or convenience store and not find one.More »