A Quarter for Your Thoughts

Thursday, January 16, 2014 | 3 Comment(s)

This past weekend, a new bar opened up about ten minutes away from our house.  As if out of one of my pre-pubescent dreams, the theme of this new establishment is a retro arcade.  The owners have hand picked a mixture of pinball machines, 80's classics, and cult hits.

Just some of their offerings
In preparation for my first visit to the bar aptly named Quarters (I am ecstatic to report that the name also applies to the cost of each game play, as many modern arcades have raised prices to between .50 and $1.00 a play), I ransacked my house to find any piles of loose change that I might cherry-pick for future game plays. By the time I pushed through the front door, I had about four dollars in quarters sitting in my pocket and a wallet that looked like I was headed straight to the strip club.

I went through that first four dollars pretty fast.  I tried out a few of the games I was less familiar with, and reacquainted myself with some old favorites.  Regardless, more quarters were needed to continue my trip down nostalgia lane.  As I made my way to the skinny rectangular machine I recognized as a change dispenser, I saw that this once familiar object had a new piece of hardware attached to it: A credit card swiper.

And a small plastic sign on which read one of the greatest short poems of this decade.

One swipe = $10 in Quarters

Have you ever read something as powerful and engaging as that in less syllables than are required in a Haiku? I think not.  And so, by god, I swiped.  And after a short mechanical pause, the drizzling rain of a quarter waterfall began collecting into the metal cup below.  With two hands I submerged my grubby little fists to haul in my full catch of coinage.  Into my sweatshirt pockets I piled metal wafer upon holy metal wafer until I walked away with pockets so laden that my top pockets sagged well below my waist.

I have never had 10 dollars of loose quarters, for spending, in my pockets before.  Never.  I was a three dollar max kinda kid at the arcade growing up (probably more my parents setting limits than any intrinsic motivation to stop).  I swear that when I felt the weight and jingle of those quarters, whatever fold in my brain stores adolescent wishes lit up like the eighth night of Hannukah. As if this change were somehow laced with MDMA, I attacked the machines with a renewed confidence, energy, and enthusiasm.  My pupils dilated as I took on board after board of the falling Centipede segments.

Centipede: NOT to be confused with Millipede!
Until finally, close to my departure, I got to fulfill another childhood fantasy.  Upon completion of a particularly good run against my many-footed arthropod opponent, the game requested the company of my initials.  I got a top score.  Well, sure, the bar has only been open less than a week.   And yes, I did manage to just unseat the lowest of the top scores.  But I'm taking it as a win.  Not only that, but I took this recent opportunity to change my "gaming initials" from the most accurate and traditional  MSZ, to the slightly more adult and self congratulatory DRZ.

As long as my dad or the pimple doctor that advertises in the NYC subway system don't come to town with a deep need to play Street Fighter, I can't imagine those letters will cause much of a hullabaloo.  Though, in my wildest dreams, I get good, like, "the Last Starfighter" good at one of these games, and put up an incredible #1 high score.   Not long after, a new young hotshot rides into town and attempts to unseat my high score on his or her favorite game.  Exasperated after days, nay, years of unsuccessful record attempts, this not-so-hotshot in a fit of helpless rage screams into the ether, "GOD DAMN YOU DR. ZZZZZZZZ!!!!!"

And in that moment, I win for all eternity.


  1. Love it. Love everything about it. Cannot wait to make it out there.

  2. Hey Matt, I was reading up on a few of your posts just now and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you have a moment. I appreciate the response, thanks

    - Cameron

    1. Hi Cameron. I don't have your email address, but I am totally open to any questions. My email is