I remember that weekend clearly! It was in 1984 -- every weekend my parents and I would go to this amazing mom & pop video rental store downtown. The place was loaded with all sorts of great video games -- VCS, INTV, you name it! For a kid it was heaven. I would spend hours just staring at the boxes, greedily wondering what cart I would play for the weekend. The cool thing about this video store was that it let you rent the entire box -- with manual, cart, insert, everything, you name it! They had these cool plastic box protectors that they put over it, so you got to take everything home with you. Really awesome!
My parents would never let me just pick my own cart willy-nilly. They would always inspect the carts I wanted, making sure they were "age appropriate". Blasting aliens, violently fighting to save the world? Most of the time it was a no-go and I'd end up with something like Crystal Castles for VCS or the like, which in itself wasn't bad but I wanted to shoot stuff! After cajoling, irritating, and generally bothering my parents, a deal was finally struck. If I did a set amount of chores around the house, I could be added to the rental account (with the stipulation that I could only have one title out at a time), and I could pick my OWN games! Oh yes! I frantically vacuumed, dusted, took care of animals, washed dishes, and did whatever my parents told me for two weeks until the day finally came when we went to the video store and I could pick my OWN game.
I rushed into the store and let visions of alien attacks fly through my head. I pondered so many choices, but ultimately, for some reason, a certain box stuck in my head -- a white box with an ugly rainbow over the top of it. The picture on the front was nothing spectacular, but for some reason, I had to play it. I grabbed it and ran to the counter, signing the rental agreement and paying the $5.00 my parents had given me to rent my own game. I filled out my name, address, everything they needed and watched as the precious cargo was cleared through video customs so I could take it home.
The game lasted around 10 minutes. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Absolutely horrible. This wasn't a game, it was some sort of graphics mess on screen that you could hardly control! I was frustrated and unhappy. On the verge of tears, I realized that I had wasted two whole weeks of my youth to play this awful, terrible, no good video game! AIR RAID? More like Borefest! I angrily stuffed the cartridge back in the box, stuffed the box back into the protector, and pushed it under the bed. I wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with that cart ever again, I was sure of it!
Fast forward to about a month ago. My parents saw the CIB Air Raid on the news, and noticing the high price, started digging through the boxes of old stuff as they vaguely remembered something about it. They call me -- PAYDIRT! They have found a boxed Air Raid in a Rubbermaid container in the basement along with some other items from my childhood. They want to send it to me to sell! My jaw dropped to the floor when I was told, visions once again dancing in my eyes. Student loans? Bah, who needs 'em? A new car? Sure! Rubbing my hands together with glee, I tell them to Priority the box along.
I get it and the memory of that horrible weekend rushes through my mind. This will more than make up for it! I get out the camera and take some high quality pics of the box, inserts, and cart, everything. I send the cart along to a respected long-term AA member to verify its authenticity. I put out some feelers on AA, sending PMs to big name collectors seeing if they want it. I PM anyone who asks my real name, address, everything to ensure it is above the board and legit. The first thing most members ask is verification and proof, understandably.
The offers start coming in. $12,000. $15,000. $17,000! I am turning green with greed, waiting for those big bucks to start flowing in. What a collection this will buy! So many other carts!
The highest offer of all surpasses the eBay auction earlier. $47,450 ! My student loans are gone, plus extra for collecting! OH MY GOD! The bidder is a new member, so I am understandably concerned about a rip-off, so I start communicating with them. Who are they? Where are they from? What are they doing?
I get a response to my questions:
"Well, you see, I own <VIDEO STORE NAME> in <HOMETOWN NAME>. I heard from a mutual friend that you had AIR RAID for sale, and I was interested in it. I'm even more interested now that I know who you are -- I looked back in my old records and found that rental agreement from 1984. Of particular note is the part that says failure to return a game on time will result in late fees of $5 a day being assessed to your account. $5 a day for 26 years....that's $47,450, which is what I am offering. Surely you wouldn't want the courts to get involved....."
What was I supposed to do? They had me over a barrel. My little kid signature was right there. Gone were the dreams of being debt-free. Gone the car, gone the additions to the collection, everything! I shipped the game back ASAP and that's the last I'll ever hear of that horrible, horrible game that not only ruined a rental weekend, but ruined the past 26 years in one fell swoop.
(Note: Some or all of this story may be completely fabricated)