Pac-Man At 30

This picture is from his younger days

It’s a very special day today: Pac-Man, perhaps the world’s most popular arcade game, turns 30 years old. We checked in on IM with Pac-Man himself to see how he was celebrating the big event.

BALK: Hey, buddy, happy birthday.
dotmuncher80: Dude, don’t even. I’ve spent all morning trying to forget about it.
BALK: Hahaha, I hear ya. Turning 30 can be rough.
dotmuncher80: Dude, the only thing worse than actually turning 30 would be to hear one of your long-ass speeches about how hard it was for you when you turned 30 A MILLION YEARS AGO. We get it: You’re old and depressed and you love talking about yourself. You know what? The rest of us have feelings too. We just don’t go around making sad little blogposts about it.
BALK: Uh, okay.
dotmuncher80: I’m sorry. I am. That was harsh. You’re right, I’m having a hard time with it.
BALK: You want to talk about it? Sometimes it helps to share.
dotmuncher80: Yeah, lick my left one, Dr. Freud. I don’t need your
dotmuncher80: Wow. Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry. DUDE. I am SO MESSED UP BY THIS.
BALK: Talk to me.
dotmuncher80: Well, first off, I don’t even HAVE a left one. I am just a tiny yellow circle with a pie-hole. Not exactly something that you’re thrilled to see staring back at you in the mirror every morning.
BALK: You’re one of the most recognizable figures in the world!
dotmuncher80: Have you seen me LATELY? The thing you never think about with aging until it’s too late is how all that muscle turns to flab. I’m a fucking OVAL these days.
BALK: But you get plenty of exercise.
dotmuncher80: I’ll let you in on a little secret: None of us move as quick as we used to. The other day Blinky had me stopped in an alley in the upper left and I was like, “Fuck, this is it,” and I hear the dude WHEEZING. I was like, “You wanna sit this one out?” and he goes, “Dude, you don’t even know.” We are all running out of energy.
BALK: The power pellets don’t help?
dotmuncher80: You mean the speed?
BALK: I thought they were just “power pellets.”
dotmuncher80: Dude, they’re speed. I am a 30-year-old SPEED ADDICT. Real accomplishment there. What a wonderful life I’ve made for myself.
BALK: You’re scaring me. You’re not usually this bitter.
dotmuncher80: Well, you know, what the fuck is there to be chipper about? I mean, sure, when you’re a kid, you’re running around with the wind at your back knowing nothing is ever going to catch up to you. You’ve got dreams, you’re full of potential, the whole world is there for the taking. And then one day you realize you’re trapped in a fucking maze and it’s eat or be eaten until you die. I should throw a fucking parade about that?
BALK: Surely your girlfriend makes you feel better.
dotmuncher80: Oh, MS. Pac-Man? Lemme tell you something, dude, she may act like she’s all about that feminism trip, but when it comes down to it she just wants to get married and have babies like anybody else. And she’s not even being subtle about it anymore. “You’d better be looking for a ring,” she told me the other day. Fuck knows where’s she’s gonna put it. Maybe on that goddamn bow of hers.
BALK: I thought you two were doing so well!
dotmuncher80: Oh, I dunno, it’s FINE, I guess. It’s comfortable, I mean. We’ve been together for so long at this point I can’t see us splitting up or anything. I mean, I’m THIRTY. Who’s gonna want an old Pac-Man?
BALK: 30 is the new 20.
dotmuncher80: Shut up is the new don’t try to calm me down with the world’s most boring cliché.
BALK: Okay.
dotmuncher80: Sigh. See, I hurt your feelings. That’s what I do. I run, I eat, I hurt the people who care about me. I’m no fuckin’ good.
BALK: Come on. I know it seems a little bleak, but that’s to be expected.
dotmuncher80: Some days I hide out in this little corner in the lower right and just cry. I mean, thick, terrible sobs. The guys don’t even bother coming around because they’re too embarrassed, I guess. You know what my biggest joy is?
BALK: When the pretzel pops up in the center?
dotmuncher80: You’re a laugh riot, asshole. Dude, I’m speaking from the HEART here. Or whatever, the center yellow core. Mostly I just close my eyes and imagine how peaceful things will be when the game is finally over.
BALK: I think maybe you should get some professional help.
dotmuncher80: Fuck that shit. What are they gonna tell me that I don’t already know? Life’s an endless series of painful events and then the quarters run out. Until then you just roll along and deal with it the best you can. THIRTY, man! Jesus Christ, who would have thought?
BALK: Are you, uh, doing anything to mark the occasion?
dotmuncher80: Q*bert is taking me out for drinks.
BALK: Is that the best choice? Q*bert’s ALWAYS depressed.
dotmuncher80: I know. Somehow it makes me feel better about myself. Also, you know, there’s alcohol, so that’ll keep me from wanting to pull my plug for a few more hours at least. Drinking is maybe the only thing that makes me feel like “insert coin” might not be the most horrible phrase ever.
BALK: I wish I could say something to cheer you up.
dotmuncher80: How old are you?
BALK: 37.
dotmuncher80: And what do you do for a living?
BALK: I’m co-editor of the Awl.
dotmuncher80: Hahahahah.
dotmuncher80: Hahahahahaha.
dotmuncher80: I’m sorry, that’s terrible.
dotmuncher80: But I totally DO feel better right now.
dotmuncher80: Okay, later dude, I gotta go chase down some ghosts, or whatever the fuck kind of blippy confectionery bullshit they’ve got me chasing after this time. A Pac-man my age should not be eating so much sugar, I’ll tell you what. Anyway, catch you around. Thanks for the chat, it really helped!
BALK: Happy birthday.
dotmuncher 80 has signed off
BALK: [Sobs.]