So last night about 8:00 I stop at our local Baja Fresh to pick up some dinner. I don’t particularly want Mexican food, but I’m atoning for working late and missing out on helping putting the munchkins to bed — they have been particularly hyper.
I pull into our shopping center and see a large and distinctly motley crowd on the sidewalk next to Baja Fresh. At first I think it is something political, possibly a disaffected-and-poorly-dressed-youth-for-Nader rally or something. But then I see they are all standing in front of our local GameStop. I don’t go in there much because I am not a console boy and they have segregated their pathetic few PC games to a single narrow shelf space in the back. But they are not suffering for want of my business tonight. There must be a good 40 people crowded in front of the store, in a sort of not-line line, all looking expectantly at the door, which is open and guarded by a GameStop employee who would last about three seconds if they rushed him.
A new console system, I think. What’s being released? Is it the Y-Box at last? Or a new game? Surely not a PC game here. Must be a console game. My interest piqued, I walk to the edge of the crowd to see what I can see. It’s an unsually racially diverse crowd for my neighborhood — not just whites and asians, as is the norm, but whites, asians, blacks, and hispanics. They range from young teens to thirtyish. They are united beyond color lines by an air of almost religious fervor and a preference for well-worn T-shirts. There are game T-shirts, sports T-shirts, and T-shirts bearing the names of what I assume are bands that I am vastly too uncool to recognize. They are talking excitedly, gesturing towards the door, standing on tiptoes to look over each other and peer into the store.
I’m not in the mood to be the “hey, what’s going on” guy tonight. But I am spared the necessity. Just then, two guys burst out of the store, almost prancing with delight, fists pumping in the air, making that look-how-excited-I am howl like “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” One is holding aloft what appears to be a console game — you know, like a DVD case, no manual or other packaging necessary. He’s holding it up like he’s carrying the Olympic torch or the holy grail into
The crowd, which parted for them like a scene from Ghandi, watches them leave with a hushed mixture of the sins — pride, envy, wrath, and visible lust. They part enough for me to see the poster on the door to GameStop, and I recognize what I am seeing. The poster advertises the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Apparently the store has decided to dole them out a night early; I had read someplace that they wouldn’t be released until today. I turn to go in and get my shrimp fajitas.
Then I see her.
She is obviously delivered by central casting to ask whats-all-this-then questions. Sixtyish, dressed like someone’s grandmother going to church, fussy hair and handbag clutched against the bewildering uncouthness around her. She is looking with puzzlement and Gladys Kravitz disapproval at the swelling scene, and is approaching an eager gamer at the edge of the crowd, clearly bent on asking a question. A teen gamer. A young gamer. A gamer clearly drunk on the crowd, the possibilities, the anticipation of driving around and fucking people up on his 32′ Toshiba.
Oh, I think, this will not end well.
But I cannot help myself — I edge closer to watch the impending crash. “Excuse me,” she says, her voice the voice of the old lady who owns Tweety Bird. “What’s going on?” The kid is only too happy to do a core dump of his puppyish eagerness. “
“We’re getting advance copies of Grand Theft Auto — San Andreas!” he gushes.
The lady is taken aback. “Grand . . . Theft . . . Auto?”
The kid smiles, suffused enough with the joy of imminent game purchase to be patient with the impossibly elderly. “It’s a game. On the playstation. It’s, like, a sequel. I must have played the first two like a thousand hours. I’ve been waiting forever for it.”
The lady is not mollified. “It’s a game about stealing cars?”
“Oh, not just that!” the kid motormouths happily. Oh, I think, this is where it could go bad. “You drive around, and do missions. You can totally become like this crime lord. You can shoot people, or beat them down with a bat and take their money. You can get in fights with the cops, and get them all chasing you. You can drive an ambulance or a cab and help people, or just run them over! It’s so realistic. This time you can all pimp out your ride. You can do all sorts of stuff”
The lady is looking like she may wet herself. Oh, I think, don’t go there. Don’t go to the prostitutes.
But the kid can’t help getting to the good stuff. One could have told this to the lady in a malicious, frighten-the-normals kind of way, but this kid is full of nothing but innocent enthusiasm for his hobby, with no sense of the gulf between him and his audience. “You can pick up hookers, and heal yourself by having sex with them!”
He went there.
The lady looks like her eyes are crossing. I regret that I have no smelling salts. She smiles weakly and bolts stiffly back towards Rite-Aid, from whence she came, looking stunned by her encounter with America’s doomed, sick youth.
No doubt this story, suitably embellished by making the inoffensive kid into some sort of dope and/or sex fiend, will be repeated at church and at bridge club and at lunch. Her world, as they say, has been rocked. The kid is oblivious, back to staring rather glassy-eyed at the GameStop door.
She doesn’t get it. But she wouldn’t get me babbling about the latest rpg or mmorpg; wouldn’t get a discussion of the strategies of
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Popehat Goes To The Opera: Un ballo in maschera - August 19th, 2017
- Department of Justice Uses Search Warrant To Get Data On Visitors to Anti-Trump Site - August 14th, 2017
- America At The End of All Hypotheticals - August 14th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: Why John Oliver Is Anti-Diversity Now - August 11th, 2017
- Anatomy of a Scam, Chapter 15: The Wheels, They Grind - August 10th, 2017