You are being proactive.
It’s a gloomy afternoon. One that will reportedly lead into a stormy night. Better prepare some evening entertainment while you still have the chance!
You drive over to DD’s Video Store. Founded in 1985, it’s now the last rental store in town. You remember worrying about it being killed by Blockbuster, only to see it outlive the chain.
You aren’t sure how it stays in business — rumors persist that it’s a front for something less legal — but you’re so glad it does.
With only the barest modifications to hide its bygone role as a smalltime cab depot, the place is loaded with shelves in every conceivable style.
The owner still deals chiefly in videocassettes, with only one spinning “new releases” rack to hold DVDs. Keep in mind, the newest movie on that rack is There’s Something About Mary.
You can rent video games, too. They’re exclusively for systems that haven’t been produced since the mid ‘90s. The owner will also let you buy them outright, but somehow expects the original retail prices for used SNES games with xeroxed instructions.
Business is driven by a handful of diehards. You’re among them. You wouldn’t even still have a VCR if it wasn’t for this place.
You remember going here as a kid, which is easy, because most of what’s in DD’s Video Store has been in exactly the same spot since you were a kid.
To this day, most of the rentals are still chosen by kids. Little kids who don’t care about high-definition. Parents let them go to town in here, because the rentals are a buck and that’s a whole lot cheaper than going to Target.
You stalk the horror section, which by this point you’ve nearly memorized. It’s your favorite part of the store.
As a child, you stared longingly at those boxes, desperately intrigued but too afraid to commit. As an adult, fuck that. It seems incongruous given their gory subject matter, but every time you rent one, you feel like a six-year-old.
Coming to DD’s Video Store is mostly about feeling like a six-year-old.
…perhaps that’s what drives you to the children’s section. You actually rented many of these movies way back when.
In fear of looking like a creeper, you’ll only rent old cartoons when nobody else is browsing the store. Today, no such luck. It’s pretty crowded. Damned weather forecast.
It’s a miracle that the modest arcade section is still operational, considering that its two games are probably older than the store itself.
You always get a kick out of The Chicken Machine, where a spinning resin bird drops plastic eggs filled with cheap toys and candy. It amazes you that there are still so many eggs inside, which indicates that the owner actually goes through the trouble of refilling the thing. Seriously?
Then there’s Ms. Pac-Man. You’ve played that machine a million times. Since you’re waiting for the store to clear out so you can check out the children’s section, you make it a million and one.
(Ms. Pac-Man courtesy of Classic Games Arcade)
Amazing how someone can play Ms. Pac-Man a million times and still not be very good at it.
Honestly, you’re only in it for the song that plays at the beginning of the first level. You love that little song. You resist the urge to sing along, which is good, because the opening line is basically “neur neh neur neur neur neur,” and you probably shouldn’t say that within earshot of strangers.
As more people pour in, you realize that there will be other days to rent that Thundercats video from Family Home Entertainment. It’s time to go. You hurry back to the horror section and pick a movie. It’s something you’ve seen two hundred times already. Who cares?
“That’s due back three days from today now,” the owner barks. You’ve been coming here for thirty years, and he’s been using that same verbal farewell for exactly all of that time. You hate hearing it, but you’d miss it if you didn’t.
A few hours later, you’re back at home. You’ve rented A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master. It comes in a plastic case that used to be much less yellow.
Oh, and you got a monster finger puppet, too. Thanks, Chicken Machine!
Though you own Dream Master on DVD and Blu-ray, nothing compares to seeing it this way. Squared, and with enough fuzz to make even the iffiest special effects look impressive.
You’ll return it in a few days, and then you’ll rent something else. Most of the time, you don’t even watch what you rent. Renting movies is just your excuse for continued trips to DD’s Video Store. You’re convinced that if you skip even one full week, it’ll morph into a Dunkin’ Donuts.
You wonder if DD’s Video Store means as much to anyone else. You hope it does. Your infatuation would seem far less odd if someone else shared it.
You go to sleep thirsty, wishing you had more to drink than tap water. You make a mental note to visit Dino Drac’s Corner Store first thing in the morning.