Song of the Day #648: ‘Pac-Man Fever’ – Buckner & Garcia

1982’s ‘Pac-Man Fever’ is an important touchstone for me because, at 10 years old, I was a chronic sufferer of the ailment described by the song. My friends and I used to play Pac-Man at the Sav-a-Step convenience store a mile or so from our school, walking there as soon as the bell rang.

Here’s where I channel generations before me and write about how I used to walk two miles home from school every day. At least, living in Miami, it wasn’t uphill both ways and it wasn’t in the snow.

I can’t even fathom letting my daughter (almost 8 now) walk home from school… not now, two years from now, or ever. That’s in no way a criticism of my parents but just an acknowledgment of how much times have changed in 30 years.

I loved that freedom — and not just the walks home from school but the fact that I could disappear on a summer morning and not show up at home again until dusk. Those adventures shaped my childhood in a way I fear my daughters won’t be able to experience.

Adam Walsh changed things, along with dozens of stories like his that have flashed big scary images across our televisions over the years.

Now, the best I can do is let Sophia ride her bike around our gated neighborhood with minimal supervision. When she disappears around the corner my heart beats a little faster until I see her emerge from around the opposite corner. I like to think that during that stretch of sidewalk when she’s out of my sight — 1/8 of a mile, tops — she feels brave and big.

I took my lumps in my Pac-Man days. Once on the way home from school a group of kids from a nearby private school threw a rock at me from a car driving by on 6th Avenue, banging my hand up pretty bad. And another time a friend and I were jumped by a few kids on the way back from the Sav-a-Step, losing a 2-liter bottle of Coke and our pride in the scuffle.

But even those bad times turn into good memories, stirred up from the bottom of a great pool of childhood experiences by the sound of Buckner & Garcia (whoever the hell they are) singing about a little yellow ball with a big appetite.

I got a pocket full of quarters, and I’m headed to the arcade.
I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m bringing ev’rything I made.
I’ve got a callus on my finger, and my shoulder’s hurting too.
I’m gonna eat them all up, just as soon as they turn blue.

Chorus:
‘Cause I’ve got Pac-Man fever;
Pac-Man fever.
It’s driving me crazy.
Driving me crazy.
I’ve got Pac-Man fever;
Pac-Man fever.
I’m going out of my mind.
Going out of my mind.
I’ve got Pac-Man fever;
Pac-Man fever.
I’m going out of my mind.
Going out of my mind.

I’ve got all the patterns down, up until the ninth key.
I’ve got Speedy on my tail, and I know it’s either him or me.
So I’m heading out the back door and in the other side;
Gonna eat the cherries up and take them all for a ride.

Chorus

I’m gonna fake it to the left, and move to the right;
‘Cause Pokey’s too slow, and Blinky’s out of sight.

Now I’ve got them on the run, and I’m looking for the high score;
So it’s once around the block, And I’ll slide back out the side door.
I’m really cookin’ now, eating everything in sight.
All my money’s gone, so I’ll be back tomorow night.

Chorus

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #648: ‘Pac-Man Fever’ – Buckner & Garcia

  1. Dana says:

    Okay, first of all, if you’re Buckner & Garcia, and you put out this song, do you really expect to be anything other than a one hit wonder?

    Second, while I loved the Pac-man, my game of choice for the early 80’s was Asteroids. Just loved it! And where was the song for that game? Hmmm?

    As for the whole “times have changed” issue, I really don’t think times have changed. I think the world was justas dangerous a place, if not more so, when we were growing up. It’s just that certain tragedies (kidnappings, etc…) were far less publicly known prior to Adam Walsh. Amy is far more like you about not wanting the kids to go places alone, but I feel that, in the era of cell phones, I feel far more comfortable letting Maddie walk to a park, the lake or go around the mall on her own. We are more cautious with Daniel, both because of his age and because he doesn’t have a cell phone.

    I also think there is always greater security in numbers, so I would have less of a problem having Daniel walk to a game room or walk home from school (or a bus stop) as I did if he were with at least one other kid.

  2. Amy says:

    You were hit in the head with a rock?!! What the hell was that all about?

    Clearly Dana is right; times were just as dangerous when you had to dodge rock wielding hoodlums as it is today.

    Boy, does this song make me want to head to the arcade and play me some Pac-
    Man.

  3. Clay says:

    Not the head, the hand. They were punk private school kids (but not from Miami Country Day, though we didn’t like those kids either).

  4. Thanks for mentioning our song Pac Man Fever! We had a great time recording it and all the songs on the album and appreciate all the emails we have received from fans. Please visit our website at http://www.bucknergarcia.com Happy 30 Year Anniversary Pac Man !
    Buckner & Garcia

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