The Video Store Days #5: Friday Night

Friday nights. We all love them. The workweek is over and it is time to do whatever we want for the next few days before the dreaded Monday decides to crash the party. Whether you are a kid or an adult, Fridays will always be the best day of the week.

Fridays during The Video Store Days were wonderful if you were under the 15. Fridays went a bit like this:

  1. Go to school and stare at the clock all day wondering when the day was going to end. You knew what was going to happen when the clock struck 3pm.
  2. When you got home from school you did your homework quicker than it had ever been done before. You got bonus points if you did your homework while you were still at school.
  3. After finishing your homework, you waited for your dad to come home from work. Even though he came home at the same time every day, it was on Fridays when it always felt like he was taking his sweet ass time.
  4. You ate dinner. This is the one time of the day when your mother makes everyone gather together. 
  5. You don’t want to do it, but you do it anyways. You eat your dinner as fast as you can because you want to leave already.
  6. After waiting for your dad to finish his dinner and sit about for a bit, you were finally in the car on the way to the holiest of holy places: THE VIDEO STORE.

My parents had a rule for the video store: Two movies OR one video game. Their logic was that a video game could last the whole weekend, but a movie was only 90 minutes. Even though they cost about the same back then, their logic made sense even when it didn’t.

Anyway, you tried to plan out what you were going to get while you were at school. In fact, I tried to plan my selection(s) from the day we would return the rentals. I always asked my parents if we could go in to return the rentals because I could sneak peeks at stuff that I wanted to get the next Friday. I always knew what the video store carried, but I almost never knew what they had in until I got to the store, so my plans would often change. That being said, I always had a backup plan just in case. I would keep a list of things in one of my notebooks at school and would dream of Fridays while my teacher would talk about something.

When it came to my parents’ renting rule, I was pretty damn smart. I would alternate the weeks. One week a video game, the other two movies. This was the best option as it would almost always work. There would some times when the game and it’s back up game would be rented out so I would have to resort to getting the two movies. I honestly didn’t mind most of the time as I was more about the movies, but it would sting when my fellow classmates would be talking about that very same game, and how it was so awesome, the following Monday.

There were a few times throughout the year where we would be blessed with a three or even four day weekend. This meant that my parents would take us to the video store twice. That’s right. TWICE! You have no idea what that was like as a kid. My parents would allow me to get three movies or two video games. I know that it was a cheat on the movie side, but that didn’t matter to me. I got extra stuff and that’s all that mattered. Of course, these extra days would throw off my list but extra stuff is extra stuff. Lists be damned.

One of the games that I rented more than once was TOP GUN for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I poured hours into this game. I read through the instruction booklet numerous times trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I could only land the plane on a blue moon and refueling the plane even less. I hated this game so much because I wasted so many rentals that could have been used on other, more deserving things, on this travesty of a game.

I also rented ADVENTURE ISLAND for the NES a lot too. I actually had fun with that game so it wasn’t a wasted rental, but I could never beat the damn thing. I recently revisited the game last year and finally beat it which made my younger self very happy.

On the movie front, I rented my fair share of stinkers, but nothing really sticks out to me which is a damn shame as I would love to see what I would think of some of the crap I rented as a kid. I can only imagine what those films would have been. Probably a bunch of animated shit with dogs may be getting into heaven or some shit like that.

The other thing about The Video Store Days is that the video store was a gathering spot. There wasn’t a time that I would walk into the video store where I didn’t see someone else whom I knew. Whether it be from school, church, or somewhere else. The video store was a community hub. You would find out about events around town from the windows of the video store. You would spend a lot of time not even looking at movies, but talking to other people about things not movie related. As you find people standing the middle of an aisle in your local big box store, the video store could be kind of hard to navigate because there would groups of people all over the place just catching up.

People today just have no idea how important the local video store was. The idea of going to a store to rent something and then having to return said item the next day or the day after that. Why would you go to the same place twice in the span of a few days? You are just borrowing that item for a fee. Can’t you just download it? No. Going to the video store was some times better than what you would end up renting. It was about going out and doing something. It was about supporting your community through patronage. It was about looking at video boxes and deciding what you were going to rent based on a few paragraphs and some pictures. It was about finding that next film or video game that you would be able to talk about the following Monday at school and make everyone jealous, which would make them go out and rent the film or video game to confirm how cool it really was.

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