Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Best Christmas Present I Will Receive This Year

No, not the light up Frank Sinatra tie:

If you are an American male around 40, unless you were a total Melvin, you will instantly recall what this is, and why, in its day, it was cooler than the iPod and the Wii combined. In fact, in a strange way, it sort of was the iPod and the Wii combined.

Well, I may have been at least a partial Melvin, but I had one of these treasures. And like everyone else who had one, I played it incessantly. It didn't take long to master, and then it was just fun, the way pulling wings off flies was fun.*
*We never actually pulled wings off flies when I was a kid. If there had been a video game called Pull Wings Off Flies!, it probably would have been fun, and we would have played it. But there wasn't -- at least not that I remember -- and it's not like we were going to actually, you know, go outside and find flies, let alone catch them, and then pull their wings off. They had, like, germs and stuff. Ick.
Yeah, you could challenge your friends to head-to-head competition on this gizmo, but the real fun was in seeing how high you could run up the score, how long you could hold the ball on a scoring drive, how far you could go on a single touchdown run, etc.

They quickly came out with a Version 2.0, which featured multiple offensive players and even passing, but it just wasn't the same. In fact, come to think of it, it is again very similar to what happened with the iPod. As much as I love my video iPod, in some ways I still prefer my clunky old black and white audio-only model.

In many ways, 1977 was the key year in American pop culture. There was Saturday Night Fever, and punk rock (which we heard about, but never actually heard until much later), and Roots and of course Star Wars, and this glorious hand-held electronic football game. At age 11, I was just becoming dimly aware of the larger world, but this football game was a self-contained plastic representation of all the excitement, adventure and really wild things that the eighties would surely spill forth.

I don't know what happened to mine. It probably got tossed with my Thurman Munson RC Cola can and my Kung Fu Grip GI Joe.

But --
about 6 or 7 years ago, at a yard sidewalk sale in South Philly, I found one. For a dollar.

Well, let me tell you, that was about the best dollar I've ever spent.

I haven't actually played it much since then, but just the security of knowing that I have one has been well worth it, a thousand times over. (I named it "Rosebud.")

My daughters will soon be pre-teens. The little one turned six and a half the other day, which, if you think about it, is halfway to being a teenager. [Shudder...] The big one will be nine in less than a month.

They are into all the groovy kid stuff, despite the fact that we don't have cable TV to poison influence them. One of their favorite things is Webkinz, which actually looks pretty cool and makes me wish it had been around when I was a kid.

So the big one was showing me the extensive Webkinz world she has created, when I remembered that a day or two ago I saw my Mattel Electronics Football game sitting undisturbed in a drawer somewhere. Sure enough, all it needed was a common 9-volt battery, and it's as cool as it ever was. Even the soon-to-be-nine-year-old thinks so.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Reid said...

I have two of those, I have the reissue somebody gave me a few years ago, and I still have the original squared away. Classic stuff. I played that until my fingers went numb.