So back when I was a wee lad there was this place over the road from Giant Size Burgers we used to just call ‘spaceys’. It was a big room full of, well, space invaders and the occasional pool table. Being way the hell down the other end of the Mount it was always a pleasure to go and stay with my grandparents, on account of their backyard leading on the service road that ran behind the shops. I could knick out of their place with my 20c piece, squander that sonofabitch, and be back in the front room before granddad was off the bog.


Being a natural geek I still have fond memories of that place. The first spaceys machine was of course in the local picture theatre, and cost almost as much as a matinee film, but those marketing guys caught on pretty damn quick, and before you could say “Galaga” they had those machines everywhere. Spacey’s itself seems to have opened sometime in the early 80s, I can’t remember exactly when, and from there it was no turning back.


We rolled through the years. From Space Invaders, Asteriods, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Defender, Frogga, and on into fabulous and high-powered games like Star Wars (you got to sit in a special cockpit thing for that) or Willow. And the great thing about it? Games were kinda cool. Everybody played video games. Didn’t matter if you were a Dr. Who fan or a rugby-head, when it came time to step up to Street Fighter you were all on the same level. Mostly. Unless you were useless at Street Fighter, like me.


Yup. Had some fine times at spaceys. A few stink times too, like the worse hangover in creation, where I ended up lying on a dirty concrete floor without regard to the gross-ness, or when I spent $10 in a video-game binge and felt guilty for days.


Naturally I ended up working there. At some stage they’d put one of those deep-fried chicken places that aren’t the Colonel in the front part of the parlour, and I had a job flipping burgers, frying chicken, and rolling ice creams (when the girls employed to do that weren’t there. Strict division of labour by sexes at that chicken place…) Mostly, a mate and I goofed off breathing all the nitrous out of the whipped cream bottles, gave away food to our mates, had hangovers, and hit on the ice cream girls, but when I wasn’t doing any of these things I got to either hand out 20c pieces to people or go play the occasional game. Bliss… Fried food AND electronic entertainment…


Anyhow, once I’d been there for a few months I had one of those recovered memory thingoes. The ones where you remember something that just fucks up the great gig you’re on. You know, “awwww…. she’s so damn hot when she walks like tha…FUCK THAT’S JUST HOW MUM WALKS!!”


I remembered being about 12, and watching what must have been the coolest guy in the world. He was playing 1942, a classic shoot-things, get-bigger-guns, shoot-bigger-things game. And he was good at it. He could get up to the christ-I-forget-what-but-it-was-pretty-damn-high level, always dropped the big bomb at the right time, and always had his own money for games (you could tell he wasn’t on the dole, dressed too snazzy).


But most of all? Most of all he had a seriously, seriously hot girlfriend. In retrospect? These days she might just look like some 17-year old slapper from the Mount, but you get the relative nature of this memory, right?


Man I was jealous of that guy. I’d finish playing something and glance around and he would have just finished a level. His girl would be leaning on his shoulder and she’d reward him with a big, lascivious, lingering kiss. He’d have his arm around her waist and they’d draw back and look into each other’s mischievous eyes. He’d look back to the game and she’d just watch his face for a moment before turning to look at his progress.


That damn sonofabitch must have had it all.


Weird isn’t it. Because, after a few weeks of working in that place as a 19 year old? Things changed. Suddenly everything became a hell of a lot clearer. I’d just gotten back from 6 months of dropping acid all over Texas (courier company), and seeing a lot of weed rolled (tumbleweeds, big dry place Texas), and I was a lot more cynical.

And that dude? A hairy, slightly greasy, exhibitionistic asshole who didn’t pay his girlfriend anywhere near the attention she was asking for. Dressed out of Farmers.


Just goes to show. There’s no going back. And for some, there’s no leaving. I was out of the Mount like a shot.