Discordant Disguise: Tiger is Gone
I was searching for past experiences,
memories of an impossible back then,
when I wore younger men’s clothes,
and I carried a smoking coolness
now long hidden
behind my taste for tranquility. Memories, vague feelings
not fully forgotten I want resurrected.
It was for writing project research
that I strolled into a huge game arcade
in northwest Austin.
A pay-to-play place, a land of profound noises,
a nightmarish field of dreams without payoff.
I saw few protective parents and a grand or two
with kids (school?), fewer still couples
who seemed pointlessly confused,
and me, one lone but alert and somewhat spry,
out of place, no longer young man
who had stumbled onto hearing aid hell.
I switched them off to mask needlessly
amplified din down to merely survivable decibels
as excruciating blares from hundreds of electronic games
simultaneously competed for my attention
with blasts, bangs, zips, loud inhuman screams,
and other onomatopoeic, nonsense of
computer generated junk sounds funneled
into my resistant ear canals.
from each mad machine making them all the same;
flat pops, grunts, and groans,
melding into one pot of brain numbing total sensory
overload, paled by screams too fake to be scary,
making unappealing demands of humans
to pay for the privilege of interacting
with computer generated absurdities
charging each equally, about a dollar a minute.
I won some games on a vintage Williams
electromechanical pinball machine,
then promptly lost them while discovering
how much faster the silver balls fly around,
how slowly my flippers and tiltless taps responded
to my now vastly reduced reaction times on
the bumper-filled clacker playfield,
sixty years since I last pressed play.
Are we having fun yet? No one asked.
The eyes of others looked unsatisfied
and bored except for the few youths
unaware of being had by the unreal stimuli.
If a man with a gun over there was firing,
no one would notice except the victim.
I did not find the kid I was looking for.
Look longer for lost ubiquitous games played by great-grands.
Find the genesis of brain numbing entertainment.
Look both ways for bar zombies that refuse to die.
Mind the gaps if you dare delve into a past that will never exist again, except in the souls of the old players.