Confessions of a Retired Ms. Pac-Man Champion

Long before the Wii, the Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, there was the Ms. Pac-Man machine in the mall arcade.

My friends, I rocked that thing.

It was 1982. I was six years old, and absolutely infatuated with the feminized version of the yellow dot-chomping computerized circle. My grandma would take me to the mall. I would hit the children's play area and jump on these gigantic blocks made of sponge and foam (imagine the injury-related lawsuits if this type of play area existed today), and then we'd visit the arcade, conveniently located right next to the sponges.

Grandma would feed me quarter after quarter, and I would spend many a glassy-eyed hour honing my mad Ms. Pac-Man skillz.

I hit the pinnacle of my gaming career when I achieved the high score on the machine. When I was close to beating the previous high score, the teenage boy lined up behind me waiting to play gathered his friends around to watch the kindergartner kick Ms. Pac-Man's ass. They were agog and agape. I was oblivious. It was just me, the joystick, and my unrelenting resolve to have my name appear on the card taped to the upper-left corner of the machine. And it did. I was beaming (and my grandma and those boys were stunned) as I informed the arcade attendant of my feat.

After that, my obsession with Ms. Pac-Man waned. I had peaked too early, and as such Ms. Pac-Man was eventually replaced by my best friend's Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers.

And then my friend got a Game Boy and Tetris. And a love like no other was born.

I spent many weekends sleeping over her house. We would take turns using the Game Boy, and whenever it was my turn, I always played Tetris.

There's something about the game of Tetris that suits my Type A tendencies perfectly, although I didn't have the self-awareness then that I have now. Turning the blocks so they fit together in the best possible way (a haphazard approach to block organization is a failed approach) led to immense satisfaction each time I cleared a line.

Once I hit 13 or 14, Tetris lost its allure. Suddenly, my friend and I were spending more time calling boys and hanging up when they answered than burning the midnight oil with the Game Boy.

I hadn't played Tetris in years.

One night last week, my husband brought this home, a Christmas gift from a friend.

And suddenly, I am 12 years old all over again.

8 Responses to “Confessions of a Retired Ms. Pac-Man Champion”

  1. # Blogger Beagle

    I had no idea I was in the company of such FAME!


  2. # Blogger Tracey

    You peaked early.. heh..

    At least you're playing a GROWN-UP game. My latest obsession? Getting past the 5th level on Cash Cow2 on my son's WebKinz site. Yes. A children's gaming site. Pathetic.  

  3. # Blogger Editorgirl

    OMG! I was so obsessed with Tetris I actually used to dream about all the different ways the pieces could fit together. Completely loved it to the point that many years ago I got a Game Boy for Christmas (and keep in mind I was like 30 LOL) and it had Tetris for me! I was insane! Love that gift, why can't C bring home things like that I can play with?  

  4. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Ah, there's nothing like those old arcade games! We had Atari, and I was master of Frogger, Space Invaders, and Q-Bert.

    I *love* Tetris, too, and found a hand-held Tetris game at Target for my eight-year-old nephew for Christmas. Woo-hoo! Let the fun begin!

    Lis Garrett  

  5. # Blogger kenju

    The only one of those I remember - or ever knew - was Pac Man, which held my children's interest for a while, after the Atari bit the dust. Good luck with your new toy!  

  6. # Blogger Shannon

    lmao... omg your little story has my hubby giggling!!  

  7. # Blogger Debbie

    Ah yes, the handheld Tetris.

    I keep mine at the in-laws cabin. Otherwise I would get nothing done around here!  

  8. # Blogger Marie

    When I was student teaching, the kids would sit and play tetris on their graphing calculators. GAH!

    I didn't know you had some Gamer in you, Kristi! Never got too into that stuff myself. But try to keep me away from a pinball machine!  

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