Chris had been maxing out on all things nostalgic, thoroughly satisfied with his decision to have a ‘90s Day. He’d just beaten Aztec on Expert in Goldeneye, his belly was full of Pizza Lunchable and Mondo, and he was fanning out his Pokémon cards like they were hundred dollar bills.
He went on youtube, watched intros to the shows of his childhood. He didn’t care what anyone said, the theme to Duck Tales was a serious musical achievement. Chris was just about to turn off his computer for the night, satiated with his ‘90s fix when he saw it. “Quad City DJ’s – Space Jam for 10 hours.”
Now that was it. Space Jam had to be the pinnacle of ‘90s movies. Sure, he was a bit biased being from Chicago and living through the repeat three-peat, but come on now. What mentally sane young adult didn’t have fond memories of that damn movie? No one, that’s who.
He clicked the link, waited for his slow internet to load the abnormally long video. He perused the comments to pass the time. Among them: “DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. PLEASE, SPARE YOURSELF THE TORMENT AND MENTAL ANGUISH. THIS WILL FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE YOU AS A HUMAN BEING. THE JAM WILL BE ALL YOU KNOW.”
Chris couldn’t help but smirk. Clever posts like this made it almost worth sifting through the illiterate muck that was youtube comments. Right then he decided that he’d do it. He’d top off the night by listening to the whole damn thing. Even if he had to stay up till 8 AM to do it.
The video loaded up. The song’s crowd cheered as that nearly monotone female voice cut in:
“Everybody get up, it’s time to slam now. We got the real jam goin’ down, welcome to the Space Jam. Here’s your chance, do your dance at the Space Jam… alright.”
And just like that, Chris was back in 1996, bowlcut on display as he watched Bugs and the rest tear up the Monstars on the blurriest of VHS tapes. He snapped back from his reverie and popped open a Wonderball, too distracted by the greatness of Space Jam to even wonder what was inside.
After five hours, Chris’s mouth was covered in chocolate, which chocolate smeared up perilously close to his eyes as his hand awkwardly propped up his half-asleep self. He was very soon passed out, the song still playing on without him.
What followed that morning was by far the stiffest and most uncomfortable of wake-ups that Chris could recall in recent memory. He smelled like Capri Sun and chocolate, spent Baby Bottle Pops stuck half-eaten to his socks, and he had spilled Lunchable pizza sauce on his fossilized, first edition, baby Raichu card.
Chris got to his feet, kicking away his sticky candy adornments and made his way to the fridge for a non-diabetes-inducing meal. He opened the fridge, and: nothing. He’d have to pick up some groceries real quick.
He made his way to the supermarket, cartoon theme songs still playing in his head. He walked in the door only to be greeted by a strange noise. It almost sounded like a crowd cheering. But just as soon as it appeared, it was gone.
“Welcome to the Space Jam.”
Chris’s head whipped to the source of the quote. A rather chipper employee stood smiling at him.
“What’d you just say?”
The employee’s grin faltered.
“Welcome to Trader Sam’s… Is something wrong, sir?”
Chris shook his head, more to wake himself up than respond to the employee. He headed over to the cereal aisle, trying his best not to jump to conclusions. Something caught his eye immediately. Among the cereal boxes stood a jar of jam that someone had left behind.
Chris grabbed the jar, incredulous. Behind it, none other than Michael Jordan’s smiling face greeted him from the cover of a Wheaties box. Chris dropped the jar, shattering it. He came to his senses almost immediately, shocked at himself.
He bent over to clean up the mess when a worker who saw the whole thing approached and politely brushed him aside.
“Don’t worry about it sir, I’ve got this. Just work that body, work that body, make sure you don’t hurt nobody.”
Chris blinked rapidly, as if that would alleviate the strangeness of whatever the hell the employee just said.
The employee just smiled, returned to his job. Just then, the store’s muzak cut out abruptly. An intercom voice flooded the store.
“Attention shoppers, down in aisle nine you’ll find we’ve got a real jam going down. Welcome to the Space Jam.”
Chris backed away slowly, not even noticing as he knocked over a nearby display. Several toy basketballs fell from their perch on the toy rack, their bouncing noise somehow heightened, louder. The employee stared at Chris as he wiped the same spot on the floor over and over again, smiling all the while.
“Wave your hands in the air if you feel fine. We’re gonna take it into overtime.”
Chris was now officially losing his shit. He turned away from the creepy employee and started to briskly walk away from the whole jam situation. But standing there blocking his path was a mob of customers, their carts boxing out any possible escape. They all sang in unison:
“HEY, YOU, WHATCHU GONNA DO? HEY, YOU, WHATCHU GONNA DO?”
Chris turned around, toward the creepy employee. An even bigger mob of managers and employees had already appeared, joining in the chorus. They all slowly approached as they sang, arms outstretched. Chris opened his mouth to yell.
Chris’s hand slipped, making his head smack against his laptop’s keyboard. The Space Jam loop had just started. He had the feeling he’d just had the weirdest dream, but couldn’t for the life of him remember any of it.
Chris shut the video off and went to bed, satisfied with his very successful ‘90s Day.