I found myself once again without plans today, yet another Christmas Eve with an empty calendar thanks to poor planning and being generally non-committal.
But unlike last year—when I stayed in all day and then stayed out all night drinking—I mustered some energy to leave my apartment and enjoy the post-storm skies and spooky lighting that are the hallmarks of LA the day after rain.
It was sunny, but it was cold—at least, cold for LA. It felt like winter.
It seemed like I'd already seen all of the holiday lights and attractions there were to see (in LA, at least), but I still felt like hearing some bells and whistles and seeing some flashing lights. That brought me to Royce's Arcade Warehouse in the San Fernando Valley.
For just $3, you gain admission to a literal warehouse in an industrial park in an area known as Chatsworth, where all of the games—pinball machines, video game consoles, the basketball game, and "Dance, Dance Revolution"—are on free play.
The light was streaming in from the rolled-up front door, but I still managed to immerse myself in the clatter of the balls and the bumpers and the flippers...
...as I tried out some games that were new to me, like Hurricane (circa 1991)...
...and Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (circa 1993)...
...whose "friends" include Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
For me, spending an hour at a retro arcade wasn't about feeling like a kid again. After all, I didn't spend much time in arcades as a kid, save for a few birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese.
Most of my video game-playing skills (of the stand-up sort, anyway) have been developed since the age of 21, usually under the influence of alcohol.
We had an Atari video game system at home as kids, but we didn't have a cartridge for Phoenix...
...only Space Invaders.
The games that actually are familiar to me—like Galaga and Centipede—must seem downright prehistoric to today's kids. The little ones at Royce's today kept calling out, "How do I make it start?!" which would elicit a response somewhere in the ballpark of "Hit the start button!"
That, of course, worked in my favor, since it allowed me to make my mark on the High Score Board —utilizing, as I always did as a small measure of rebellion against my family name, the initials "SAN" as an abbreviation for Sandi rather than my actual first-middle-surname initials.
I find myself without plans tomorrow for Christmas Day as well, but I'm not going out tonight to whoop it up. After all, I've got a companion at home with me now.
He's my little Christmas angel, and it's our first Christmas together. That's enough for me.
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