The Astronaut and the Quarter

At some point in the 80s, I was somewhere in Florida, and a dude gave me a quarter to play a Lunar Lander arcade game …

I was in Florida to watch a space shuttle launch. We’d stopped at some gas station and in the mini shop there was an actual Lunar Lander arcade cabinet.

I totally pretended everything was fine (I was trying to impress a girl there) as I completely botched my landing, and crashed.

This guy tried to warn me I was coming in too fast. Well, he would know because he turned out to be an actual astronaut.

He asked me if I recognized him, and I had to admit that I did not. I apologized. He said that he probably wouldn’t remember him either, though he was one of the few who went to the moon. Even now, I cannot for the life of me remember which astronaut this was that I met that day.

Not my finest day in the space program, I can tell you with certainty.

When I admitted to the guy he was right, but I was trying to cover because of the girl there, he seemed very understanding even though I just killed myself and some of his friends by slamming into the surface of the moon.

But, not understanding enough to give me another quarter, darn it.

In the early eighties, I lived in Southern California for part of a year. There was a conservative, protestant religious television show on cable then and there, called something like The Eagle’s Nest. I recall the show in particular because there was one about Halloween, making the argument that real Christians shouldn’t celebrate that holiday because it is a pagan seasonal festival. Because of this, the show advocated having nothing whatsoever to do with the Halloween tradition.

I remember this because, on the face of it, it sounds reasonable. If one were to be internally consistent, one that professed a strictly Christian observance would probably be bound to avoid pagan festivals. However, the more memorable part was the fact that the set for the show, arguing that righteous Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with celebration of Halloween, was decorated as a cemetery and in the background, throughout the show, someone dressed as Frankenstein or some other character would wander by. At the conclusion of the show, if I remember correctly, all of the creatures that had been wandering the cemetery ganged up on the preacher, who was forced to make his concluding statements while laughing at being mobbed.

Hypocrisy seemed to me to be a palpable manifestation conjured by this display.

Over a decade ago when I worked in retail, the winter frenzy was all about “Holiday” even then.