I was in a cafe not too long ago that was filled with decor from the 80s, from movie posters of popular movies of the era to what I think was an actual Delorean, done up in the manner of the time traveling one from the Back to the Future series.
I was instantly in love with the place, appropriately called “The Wormhole,” located in Chicago. Without even trying the coffee and figuring out whether or not I wanted to represent the place based on how good the coffee was, I bought one of the cafe’s shirts at the time I ordered a cup of joe. The shirt had a Delorean on it. I essentially had no choice.
My friend and I settled on one of the couches in the back where a few people were playing, wait for it, Nintendo. NIN-tendo. More specifically, Super Mario Brothers 3.
There were a bunch of video games in a box on top of the TV, where anyone can swap out any of the games at any time. The folks that were there soon got up to head out and handed my friend and I the controller. We both played for a bit and then one other girl sat down by us as she was waiting for her coffee and we all got to talking.
Here’s the interesting thing about Nintendo – a lot of people who played it remember the same things about it. The girl and I reminisced about the same games and we both spoke of Contra and recited the cheat code.* Soon, the conversation shifted to other topics and my friend and I learned a lot about this person – where she was from, what she was doing in Chicago, that she was getting married soon, and a lot of other things. It was pretty cool that a video game system created this conversation around it, especially since playing video games can become a rather solitary activity. I’m also consistently surprised by the fact that as such an introvert, I enjoy having random conversations with people I’ve never met before.
Her fiancé soon came by with her coffee and my friend and I had to head out. I’m sure I’ll go back sometime but it made me, once again, regret the time my brother and I sold our Nintendo and all of our games in exchange for the X-Men game on the Genesis system. Our Nintendo wasn’t worth that much and there was no point for us to keep it around as we hadn’t used it in forever. I couldn’t have imagined ever pining for a system that utilized an older technology.
Oh hey! And the coffee at Wormhole was good! If I lived in Chicago, I’d probably end up never leaving that place.
Side Note (a long one): One game that was at Wormhole that meant a lot to me was Excitebike, which was one of the first Nintendo games that the siblings and I had. I’ve had conversations about Excitebike before with people as that was yet another Nintendo staple that it weirds me out when people who look roughly my age don’t know about it. I was in a parkour** class last year and upon seeing the way the gym area was set up, with a lot of obstacles/stations all over the place, I said “It’s like Excitebike” out loud.
I figured that the people who were standing around me would instantly know what I was talking about. There was a mode in the game where you can fashion your own race track, with whatever obstacle you wanted. The problem with that is that you overwhelmed your track with too many things, your motorcycle never got enough speed to properly do anything. One of my favorite things to drop on the track was this ramp you had to drive up onto, which ultimately let you fall from the height and resume your driving.
But, no one knew had ever heard of Excitebike! It threw me off.
I thought about putting Excitebike on at Wormhole but realized that if we wanted to leave the cafe sometime that day, let alone give anyone else a chance to play, it was best for me to leave the games alone.
*If you ever played Contra, chances are very high that you still remember the cheat code and can recite it on demand. I had checked over the box of games and scanned it for Contra. I would have been all over that if they had it so it was probably a good thing that that particular game was missing from the collection.
** I really wanted to take parkour and found this place not too far from me that offers parkour classes. I bought a 12 class package. I ended up taking just 11 of them. It was fun and I really enjoyed it but I got hurt three times (all times my fault), with the last time during my 11th class in which I sprained my ankle. I’m still on my own personal fitness journey but alas, it no longer includes parkour. It’s a bit crazy to think that I got hurt in 27% of the classes I took.