Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.
Remember when we wondered how we’d pronounce the ‘2' as we spoke 1999 for the last time? Would it be twenty-00, or two-thousand? Now it’s ‘familiar’. This year’s 20-20 sounds like an eye chart. Eyes. Looking back as well as ahead...
Well, do you remember those compositions in school where the teacher required you to write "How I Spent My Vacation"? Did you abhor that assignment? Me too...and I used to teach Advanced Composition at a private college. Wonder, however, what some of my students would've thought if I'd told them how I spent 1984's New Year's Eve?
As the sparkling ball fell, via television, in New York City’s Times Square proclaiming another twelve months had vanished, I realized George Orwell had foreseen very much but not the room in which I'd ushered in a new January.
My husband and I and our youngest son went to a golf resort in southern Florida during Christmas break. With uncooperative-for-outdoors weather, we devised ways to use indoor time.
A round game-room in the main building had a ping pong table, juke-box type record player, and video games that circled the room. Small children and pre-teens clad in sneakers and jeans waited for turns at machines. Players often uttered words common in movies and by stand-up comedians, as they banged their hands on sides of the noisy boxes. My son thought we should try our hand at using a joy stick.
I could never manage the flippers on pinball and felt a personal affront when the machine laughed at me, figuratively, as it announced "tilt". These arcade games appeared to be easier, yet I felt looks might be deceiving.
I was initiated into the realm of video games. Because it was New Year's Eve, the coin slots were covered and all play was free.
Our son took us to Pac-man where he played and easily gobbled up computerized dots, turned circles blue, racked up points, saw boards shift. So that's how his college expense money was used, we mused. Well, how hard can it be to manipulate one fat stick? My Pac-man was devoured before I figured out how to make him run away. My husband fared somewhat better. For free, we'd seriously try to learn.
Small children scooted in front of us for their turn at the machine. We watched them manipulate, with confidence, joy sticks, yet noticed no tabulated score was really as high as their goals.
Missile Command had me moving both hands as I rolled a ball. On-screen bullets shot and I tried to defend my cities. This wasn't fun; it was work. I didn't want my cities to be shot down, destroyed. "Run away" I demanded, as I tried to maneuver but the video always set up obstacles I could not overcome. "Damn," I muttered. Oops.
My husband and son competed in a two player game where a blip was bent on terminating the 'human' icon.
After an hour, I was determined to complete the first board of Ms. Pacman...not a master goal but a possible one. Each time the game outwitted me, hostility and a greater urgency to once again beat a computer chip cropped up.
Reluctantly we gave turns to those who stood behind us. We then occupied space at their backs, short as they were, for our next position in line.
The ball dropped. Another year was history and I was standing behind a tiny child hoping he'd finish Pacman so I'd have another turn at it before my hand got more sore than it already was.
This wasn’t 'fun'! Frustration and defeat is never easy. Even if I’d scored enough to enter my initials into the computer's memory for high points, another eventually will erase that accomplishment by earning a digit or two better. I CAN be more successful than a man-made metal rectangle, said the ego. Reality ruined that esteem.
When I got home, I decided if I didn't have my 'mature' image to protect, I'd toss a coin into a machine in the lobby of the local movie theatre as I was so sure if I tried again, NEXT time I'd .... Nah.
Eventually I was able to plug a couple of cables right into my private television set, and that distinctive music began. I didn’t have any short people to wait behind, the successes or failures were for my eyes only, and I had the luxury of a joy stick that was so personal it wasn’t even used by anyone else.
2020. With our individual smartphones, my husband and I sit with our younger son’s family and tap in a code. His flat panel, large television set is lit with a specific game matching that code. We enter silly means of identification, and we compete with questions seen onscreen.
In our town is the National Museum of Play. If we want to recapture a moment from a long-ago New Year’s, there’s an entire area devoted to ancient games of pin-ball, Donkey Kong, and on...
Dec. 2004-2005 Clear Mt.
April 2014 Intentional Walk