Now I know that it’s nothing for me to say that Friday’s are special. They are special to nearly all of us. But Friday’s give me a special feeling, not only because it’s the start of the weekend, but for reasons that span back three decades to the 80’s. I have so many special memories of the 80’s, that’s the reason I am so glad to have found this site and have spent the past weeks listening to all the old podcasts that the Retroist has put out (I’m down to the last 5 unfortunately). My Friday’s in the 80’s however were extra special and the reasons why are tied in to so many of the things I have rediscovered while exploring this site. When I was growing up my parents didn’t have much money, so our weekly treat was a Fast Food Fridays dinner at the Burger King located inside the local mall.
Each week we would pick up my mom from work and then my parents, my sister and myself would drive straight to the mall for dinner and a couple hours of mall wandering. We had always been a Burger King family, I still can remember the intoxicating smell of the grill and the hot fries, and the feeling of the hard plastic seats backed with that heavy padded vinyl as I slid into the booth. I remember graduating from the small hamburger to the Whopper Jr., and that moment I swore I had reached manhood when I was allowed to have a full sized Whopper of my own. After dinner we all went our separate ways to wander the mall then meet back at the center fountain at a predetermined time.
It was during this time that I would come to experience the things that so many of us remember. Usually I would head to the toy/hobby store to look at airplane models I would spend nearly all my time staring at and wishing over them, trying to calculate how many weeks of allowance I would have to save to afford the one I wanted. It was on one of these walks that I strolled past the Woolworth’s and saw my first Pac Man game cabinet, I can remember standing in line with the two quarters my parents begrudgingly allowed me to take my turn. Pac Man played while inhaling the smells of chain store popcorn and other snack bar fare… is there anything sweeter? It was not long after that time that the mall opened an arcade. From that point on my trips to the hobby store became less frequent. After all when you are given a $5 allowance once every two weeks, and I would most times burn through all of it in the arcade, there was little left over for my plastic models.
I whiled away many a classroom hour in the middle of the week dreaming of Friday night when I could fill my stomach with delicious food, maybe pick up a character glass, and then head off to lose myself in the buzzing glow of the arcade playing Pole Position, Gauntlet, Star Wars (the only game I was ever truly good at) and stare in awe at the new 50 cent games that were surely a sign that technology was nearing Star Trek levels!
Over the years I have always maintained the Friday night tradition of eating out, even today at 41 I still try to have a “fast food” type meal on a Friday. I find it very comforting somehow, even if I can’t replicate completely the old Burger King experience. Now I am even happier though thanks to the all the podcasts I’ve been listening to, and reading the forums and blogs here. They help me remember the things I’d forgotten, and refresh the things I do. I find myself sitting at my desk, listening to the podcasts, and dreaming of the moment I can escape the office on Friday afternoon and revel in that old “Friday feeling” from so long ago. Maybe even have a little taste of Fast Food Fridays. It’s nice to know there are so many others out there with loads more talent than me who can put together a site like this. Happy Friday to all of you!