Friday, April 26, 2013

Bass Pro Shops, Scary Malls, Dave & Busted's

PLEASE NOTE: I will post pictures I took on my iPhone really soon but since I'm typing this at work, I can't do that just yet.  Later today...

Last Saturday was very strange to me.  And it's not cause it was 4/20 (I don't smoke, SORRY KIDS).  It's because my brother (2 years younger than me) and his girlfriend were driving to Orlando to come visit me for the day.  It was a treat since it gave me the incentive to do something besides sleep in all day to make up for my lack of sleep during the work week.

Whatever, so we're off to go do stuff.  First, we stop at Chipotle to eat tacos.  I throw around a lot of jokes, get a bunch of laughs.  Then after we eat, we want to do something fun.  Since we're near International Drive where all the tourist traps are, we think "Hey, let's go putt-putt."  So Brother searches for "putt putt" on his iPhone and we're off to some place called "Putting Edge."  Strange thing is it takes us to the Festival Bay, a gigantic mall near the end of International Drive (by the Fun Spot and the terrible outlet malls that sell clothes I'm not interested in).  We don't see a sign ANYWHERE for a Putting Edge but we do spot a Bass Pro Shops which served as an anchor to a large mall!  Because Brother and Girlfriend are into outdoors stuff, they inexplicably want to go in.  And I obliged.

In case you're like "dafuq is bass pro shops", it's basically a giant log-cabin department store with a shiatload of ourdoor merchandise--hunting, camping, fishing, boats, ATV's, an aquarium-esque fishing tank, "homemade" candy prepared an log cabin (yo dawg we herd you like...), NASCAR toys, Cabela's silly light-gun games (which reminds me, where the hell is Sega Bass Pro Fishing???), and old-timey red-state stuff.  A far cry from Academy Sports (from my hometown Slidell, LA) which is basically a white box with some sporting goods in it.  Since this place is so big, it was like an amusement park of its own.  Brother pushed Girlfriend around in the shopping cart, checked out the lousy light-gun game, tried on hats, looked at poor taxidermed animals, took pictures next to the Tony Stewart sign, also checked out the stuffed toy animals (I bought a coyote and a brown thrasher, I like little toy animals, I think they're cool so STFU), and sat in comfy recliners.

But after we've had our fun for about an hour, I glance at the other exit to Bass Pro Shops--the one leading to the actual mall.  Now the last time I was at this store, I hadn't gone into the mall.  But here, there was a sign leading to the "Fantasy Arcade" or something.  It was too alluring not to go so I told Brother and Girlfriend, "I'm going to check out that arcade, see ya later."

What happened next was rather surreal like a Twilight Zone or Creepypasta (at least to me anyway).  See, I had walked into....a dead mall.  It was a big, vacant hallway.  All the stores were boarded up except for a few stragglers like a sporting goods, Smoothie King, and the indoor glow-in-the-dark Putting Edge that took us to this very building in the first place.  As I was wandering around looking for the arcade, I felt like I had been here before...  Visually, this building is nearly the same as some of the macabre dreams I had before--ones where everything was dim, the building was on its last legs, and a shoddy arcade.  I did find the arcade and not to my surprise, it was a bunch of poorly aligned arcade cabinets with a bias towards American games (as usual).  No Sega racers but they had Cruis'n World (dumb) and San Francisco Rush (better).

I didn't play any games though.  Didn't feel like it.  Was too weirded out by the place.  I sort of wandered around aimlessly as I nearly crawled up into a ball to cry.  Pains of going to the Northshore Square Mall in Slidell, LA to play Daytona USA 2 wrought me with misery.  I feel like those dreams were just self-fulfilling prophecy of the death of malls (see this informative site), arcades, and Sega in general and that the happy times were never coming back.  And how my journey thus far was really a dramatic one--that malls like this is where my "life force" came from and I'm trying to bring it home for racing game fans everywhere but I been shut out from being able to help for so long.  Drama, I have it...

And like any good Creepypasta story, I didn't simply "run away" when things got weird.  I stuck around and wandered some more and took pictures (Frank West style, speaking of Dead Rising, yeah this mall looks like it).  Eventually, Brother & Girlfriend walked to the mall too but I ran back to Bass Pro Shops.  What would happen is 30 minutes of us trying to message each other in order to meet up again but to little success.  When I finally found them, in a cold I bought a bag of malted milk balls, munched on 'em in the car as I took off uneasy.  I told Brother & Girlfriend that I felt ill but they didn't get it.  I was very talkative up until the moment I went into the mall but afterwards, my energy was drained.

Well, what else is there to do on a Saturday night in Orlando?  Eventually, we agreed to go to Dave & Buster's, the one that I went to twice already (once, twice).  My mood lightened up once we got there.  We paid $25 to play some games and, obviously, I had opted to play Daytona USA (no really?).  Brother & Girlfriend stood on and watched but were mostly interested in getting in petty debates over dating stuff (which is why I'm currently single--no debating with girls and more time to play games).

While I shed a tear and was slightly healed from experiencing the cathartic effects of a Sega racer, the problem was the pedals were defunct.  If you floored it, the car only accelerated 70-90% of the way, varying on the different machines.  Like on Expert, I couldn't even pass a single car on the starting straightaway which is not supposed to happen.  After playing a couple of rounds to much disappointment, I spotted an arcade attendee repairing a House of the Dead 3 machine.  Told him "the pedals on those machines are off," he said okay but was mostly uninterested.  I highly doubt he fixed them.  Judging by how content people are from playing Beginner with the AT car bouncing off the walls with no skill, I highly doubt it was in Dave & Buster's interest to even repair the machines.  That is depressing.

The day did end on an okay thing.  We played this little football game where you score points by throwing tiny footballs through some holes.  I got the worst score of us three and, in three plays, got consecutively worse scores.  I Tebowed in the middle of the place.  Girlfriend got the highest score of all (WTF indeed), plus she also beat me at Daytona USA on beginner (a first for me) but only because my cabinet had busted pedals and hers didn't and she used rubber banding to win.  Was shitty but she didn't rub it in.

We go home to my apartment, I convince Brother & Girlfriend to watch a few Top Gear UK clips on YouTube, they go to sleep on the crappy Target futon, wake up early and drive back home.  It was an interesting Saturday but in many ways depressing.  It makes me think that over the last year or few, I sorta missed out on the pain that Sega & arcade games were going through and that I opted to spend my time on personal projects that had nothing to do with Sega, really.  I couldn't help but cry a little.

Man, the reason I'm going through this "journey" to Sega is to bring back the good times for everyone who was in my boat.  And we're making progress but still, I always feel I could've done better.

Good news though and that is my dad is coming up to visit me today.  I get to see my dad again, it will be fun.  Hopefully we don't get in any stupid situations like I did with Brother & Girlfriend, heh.  I just want to be at peace, that is all...

I love you, Dad.  I love you too, Sega, for your games fathered me like a real father would.  You convinced me to be this way so I'm trying to spend time with you again.  Just don't shut me out, please.  And yes, I do have a habit of spinning media about missing family/friends/loved ones into missing Sega games and now you know that.

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