Those Were the Days is a weekly article in which Gamervision employees share video game-related memories. If you’ve got a story of your own to share, please do so! We love hearing from the community.
Remember when birthdays were something you looked forward to, rather than dreaded? Maybe some of you out there are young enough to still know the joy of looking forward to that one day of the year when you know that you'll be getting older, more mature, even wiser. There are certain milestone years that can never go out of style- turning 13 means being a teenager, at 18 you're an adult, and 21 means you can legally purchase alcohol. Shortly after your 21st birthday, if you're anything like me, you start to realize that those numbers in your age just keep going up and up, and the only thing standing between you and old age is a progession of years, which seem to be speeding up with each one that passes. Then there is the horror of knowing you're approaching your 30th birthday.
Thirty. It carries with it so many connotations. It is one of those birthdays that forces us to take a look at our lives, and try to justify who we are with who we thought we were going to be. More often than not, we discover that somehow ten years got away from us, and we're nowhere near where our 16 year old selves thought we should be. The story of my thirtieth birthday party, however, is one that forced me to recognize the real truth of aging: that each of us are only as old as we feel.
Just by way of background: I am the fourth of seven children (all adults now) and I am married to an awesome lady. At my parents' home, birthdays have always been somewhat of a big deal, with a cake, presents, and the whole nine for each of my siblings year in and year out. My thirtieth was no exception: my mother made my favorite dinner (cheesesteaks and mashed potatoes) and picked up my favorite dessert (ice cream cake from Carvel). After the presents were opened, I suddenly found myself taken hostage. Literally.
My older brother came up behind me and threw a pillowcase over my head, while my brother-in-law duct taped my hands behind my back. I was tossed, rather unceremoniously, into the backseat of a car, and taken for a drive. The trip lasted somewhere between a half-hour and several days, as I was unable to see much from under my pillowcase. No one in the car spoke to me on the ride up, so I didn't even know whose car I was in, nor where we were going.
After a period of time, the car stopped. I was taken out, made to stand up, and marched forward. I sensed that I had been taken indoors, and the sounds I heard were somehow very familiar. The pillowcase was taken off of my head, and I looked around to see two of the biggest surprises of the night: all of my friends were there shouting, "SURPRISE!" and we were in an arcade. Like, a real arcade, not some cheesy Dave & Busters shit. An honest to goodness, coin-op palace. My wife had thrown me a surprise party at TNT Amusements.
Anyone from the Philadelphia metropolitan area should know full well that TNT Amusements is the place with the really lame awesome infomercial, starring the president of the company. For the full half-hour, this commercial touts the selection, quantity, and quality of games you can rent for your home from this buisness. It also turns out you can rent out their space for your own private parties. This is exactly what my wife had done for me- she rented me an arcade for my thirtieth birthday.
For the next three hours, I, along my friends and family, were transported back to our childhood arcade days as we moved from Rampart to 720, then onto The Addams Family Pinball, maybe finding time for a quick few games of Dance Dance Revolution; I played them all that night! The plates, napkins and decorations were all X-Men themed, there were cookies and juice, balloons and streamers, and just a ton of attention to detail to remind us all that we were celebrating, not lamenting an annual rite of passage.
While I can't say that I loved the idea of turning thirty, I can say without hesitation that my thirtieth birthday party was one of the most memorable parties I've ever been to, and by the end of the night, I felt closer to thirteen than thirty.