Back in 1983, at the tender age of 9, I convinced my mother to allow me to send five entries into a sweepstakes by Parker Brothers for their new Atari 2600 game, Super Cobra. I won both a Super Cobra patch, which I think lots of people won, and the grand prize, one of one hundred Super Cobra flight jackets with my name stitched in gold colored thread on the left breast.
The fact that I won isn’t that big of a deal. There’s no telling how many people actually entered, and the fact I won two prizes from five entries should probably tell you there wasn’t much in the way of response. Still, in 1983, having a black flight jacket with a bad ass video game logo on the back was, basically, the most awesome thing in the world.
I wore that jacket everywhere; school, out to dinner, even when it was too hot to wear it. If I recall, I actually received the jacket in early 1984, just before Airwolf came out, and goddamned I should have been the most popular kid ever wearing that thing. Of course, I wasn’t. You didn’t expect this to be a happy story, right? The jacket honestly brought me zero popularity, mostly because I vacillated between being “the weird kid” and being the overly buffoonish “fat kid”. Neither of those were going to be overcome by a flight jacket, no matter how black, nor with the bitchen video game logo on the back and my name on the breast pocket. Nope, in some ways it just served to further alienate me.
The thing is, I kept that jacket all through highschool, even though it didn’t fit any more, and even into college I had it, though it was at my mother’s house. When she eventually moved and threw out a lot of stuff, that jacket went. Sometimes I think about it, and miss that damn thing. Not because it ever was cool to anyone else, and not because it was a piece of my childhood. It was just one of the few times in my life I won something, something that was mine and was real and tangible.
The punchline here is I never actually got the video game. I don’t think I even ever played it.