Save Points: Hydro Thunder

Suggested soundtrack: “Redline” by Lazerhawk

February led into March like a nitrous tank on the final lap of a street race. Though not a fan of the Fast and the Furious, I have done a fair bit of arcade racing in my day. Eat your heart out Forza; I’m talking about the OG Hydro Thunder (you were expecting Cruisin’ World, eh?). The boat racing game was, by far, the best that the local Cici’s had to offer back in my day.

Many days were spent squirreling away quarters in eager anticipation of a trip to Fuddrucker’s or the Washateria or because my parents couldn’t get a babysitter and my brother wanted to go to the mall. Street Fighter tournaments and DDR embarrassments also featured prominently.

But now all of the arcades are gone. Bulldozed and removed, erased from the existence of the malls now dying without them (ignore internet shopping if you please). But I sit at my home PC, button-mashing to Injustice 2 because seriously, there are just TOO MANY MOVES Y’ALL, reminiscing in my lizard brain about times spent relishing each 2-minute spree or 5-minute marathon.

I have been moving so fast lately that my brain has not had time to be depressed. It’s an old coping mechanism I relied on heavily throughout high school and through college (until I hit the breaking point that every Manic Pixie Dream Girl hits where she has to decide whether or not she wants to become a sociopath or a real person). But there are such quiet moments on abandoned streets in the fog of 1 AM.

Moments of watching my father rack up classic cars he never drove, collecting them as china cabinets do dust with their contents never knowing the taste of purpose. My squirrel brain deflects, begging me to Google what the origin of “china cabinets” is and if it is offensive (like the origin of so many words found in modern vernacular). But the foggy headlights persist to show the way ahead.

As smells do with memories, images and touch anchor me to myself. Like when I used the gearshift in the arcade even while playing on “automatic” instead of “manual”. It makes no difference in the gameplay, but it keeps me gripped to the edges of my life in the biggest way possible. Suddenly, it hits me.

I’ll probably never own a boat.

Juliet Childers graduated from University of Houston and writes for a number of outlets including TheGamer and After a long hiatus from poetry, she is breaking back into the industry with renewed fervor and unflinching identity. She loves video games, South Korean dog Instagrams, and the occasional Dr. Pepper. 

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