Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 19.2 (William Shakespeare)

Timon of Athens
Shakespeare, William
Timon of Athens

I read through most of the volumes in this collection about five years ago, but I can't recall whether or not I read Timon of Athens. I probably did, because as I remember I set out to read all the plays I hadn't read prior to going back to the ones I had.  I read all the history plays first, then the more obscure ones like this. I'd venture to say that I did read it.


After Space Invaders came Asteroids. I played the latter more than the former, but I never got very good at either one of them. It didn't really matter. What did matter was the escape from reality. For whatever I reason I needed it badly and video Games provided the perfect exit from this world into another in which the rules were laid out pretty clearly, as were the consequences for failure: another quarter in the slot.

Within a couple years of my encounter with Space Invaders, the video game craze had taken hold. Arcades sprang up everywhere: malls, drug stores, movie theaters, pizza parlors–anywhere with a spare corner for a console had a game, and every game had someone feeding it quarters from the open of business to close.

In Vienna, Virginia, where I lived, the place to go was a little hobby shop called Executive Hobby. They mostly specialized in Dungeons & Dragons paraphernalia and model airplane kits, but they had a wall that ran the length of the store dedicated to video games. At some point or other, they had all the classics: Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Miss Pac-Man, Battle Zone, Tron, Berzerk and, my personal favorite, Scrambler.

In the summer between 7th and 8th grades I went there almost every day. I used to have only a dollar or two to play with, and this never laster very long. One day I rode my bike there with a friend, who borrowed my younger brother's brand new bike. We never locked our bikes up (can you feel the narrative tension mounting?). We went inside and played until we ran out of quarters.

When we went outside we discovered that my brother's bike (and not mine) had been stolen. My parents were not happy. Either I had used the bike without permission or I had gone to the arcade against my parents wishes. Regardless, they were angry about at least two things. They docked my allowance for the whole summer to pay for the lost bike.

I was mad. I hadn't stolen the bike. No one ever told me to lock it up.

I was steaming mad. I wanted revenge. And I got it....

from Timon of Athens

Poet:                                A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence 'tis nourished: the fire i' the flint

Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself, and like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes.

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