In 1983, after watching Carl Lewis blow out the field in the 100 meters at the world championships, I cut my white man's Afro into the sprinter's signature flattop. The hairstyle didn't help me win any medals with the ladies, but it did put me in the proper mind-set to master my favorite event: the 100-meter dash in the kinetic video game Track and Field.
A revelation in Reagan-era arcades, Track and Field was one of the first video games with a realistic sports theme. You competed against the machine or up to three pals in six events: the 100, the 110 hurdles, the high and long jumps and the hammer and javelin throws. To control the figures, you worked two run buttons, which had to be pushed in rapid succession, and a jump/throw button. Most players looked like bongo-playing monkeys as they bashed the run buttons to make their man move. I adopted a more graceful technique: I flicked three fingers from each hand over the buttons, enabling my dude to whoosh down the track faster than a spooked mule. My talents at the virtual sport were obvious. I'm not bragging when I say my character could have owned Lewis in the 100. My record was a hair under eight seconds; King Carl's best was 9.86.
The game's other events didn't jibe as nicely with my 12-year-old sprinter's mentality. Still, I'd occasionally claim the top step at the medals ceremony, where I was serenaded by a Casio version of the Chariots of Fire theme. My attention soon turned to other virtual pursuits, but my Track and Field days lived on with that stupid haircut.