Arcade Archives

I’m not much of a video game player. It’s not just the shoot-‘em-up games I don’t like, it is pretty much all of them. Even the interactive Wii games, while they are fun for a few minutes, quickly bore me and I decide I would rather just go read my book. I’ve chronicled my uncoordinated video-game playing experiences on In Search of the End of the Sidewalk before, in both “Wii-kends are for  Playing” and “Wii-ning Advice.” (Apparently, the Wii doesn’t make me more athletic or coordinated, but it does fill me with puns.)

Here’s the thing though– add in the possibility of winning tickets and suddenly, I am all about the games! Over Christmas break, when Thad and I were home in Idaho, we went out one night with plans to go bowling. Well, the alley was crammed and we were put on a waiting list and given ten dollars of tokens for each person to play with in the arcade while we bided our time. (The bowling alley even gave us one of those cute little buzzers used by restaurants! Since when did bowling allies go from being filled with smoke and mullets to being brightly lit and jamming to pop-music?)

Free tokens? The possibility of tickets? Trading those tickets in for worthless crap at the arcade store? Yes! Yes! And definitely yes!

That night in December, I believe I came away with a purple plastic articulated snake toy that if you wiggle it just right, it looks like it is slithering on its own. Oh yeah, and a bag full of fruit flavored Tootsie-Rolls. Not bad for killing time before scoring an incredibly low total in a few games of bowling. (I blame the score on the massive number of fruity candies I ate between each turn.)

Last night, I was again offered the chance to get my arcade on.  When we moved to Washington DC last summer, I had cable for the first time in my life. Needless to say, for about two weeks, while Thad went to work each day, I kept up with the Kardashians and learned how to stage my home for sales showings. (If only I could make that happen from the other side of the country! I still have a lovely home in Nampa on the market, rock bottom priced, if anyone is interested!) During those few weeks of cable-coma, I saw several commercials for what appeared to be Chuck E. Cheese, but for adults. Awesome.

We’ve been talking about going for a year now, but with our time quickly coming to an end and John and Lulu leaving in less than a month, we figured it was now or never. So, along with John and Erin, the six of us met up for an evening of mediocre food and fabulous games. I knew it was going to be a good time when Thad excused himself from the table to go wash his hands, was gone an inordinately long time, finally returning with a grin, saying “I found the game room.”

As an avid Skee-ball fan, that is normally where I would take up position, but the Skee-balls games at Dave and Buster’s have a terrible return when it comes to tickets. At the arcade, it is all about the ticket collection. Thad racked up good numbers playing the world’s largest version of Fruit Ninja. (Granted, he and John Park have been practicing for that moment on their iPads for months. I’ve sat through numerous lunchtime challenges for such lofty rewards as a Mountain Dew or a York Peppermint Patty.)

The evening included a lot of Fruit Ninja, a basketball competition, Erin braving the Dance Dance Revolution machine, John T. driving a big-rig, a bit of electronic jump roping, more than one game of Let’s Make a Deal, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right, as well as some bass fishing and a bit more Skee-ball.

As the helpful wife that I am, I collected all of our tickets first in my bag, soon transferring them to one of the high quality cardboard cups provided by D&B’s. I figured by gathering the earnings after each game, I not only consolidated what we needed to haul around, but also essentially co-opted the gains. What’s yours is mine, right? (I’d say Thad was surprised, but this is the financial model we’ve been living under for the last year, so he is used to it. He goes to work and earns a paycheck; I stay home and spend said paycheck.)

With our credits run dry (we all chose dinner deals that included a $10 Dave and Buster’s play card), it wasn’t quite time to call it a night. First, we had to hit up the arcade shopping center.  Between us, Thad and I grossed 665 tickets. (Rather than run the tickets through a machine, or count them by hand the way we used to at POJOs when I was a kid, the tickets went on a scale, which weighed them and provided a total count. I have to say, I think it was really 666, but that number apparently freaked out the kid behind the counter, so we were left one ticket short when they were put on our card.) My hands wrapped around a ticket card with nearly the same net worth as Satan, I scanned the store for what I could afford. Thad was disappointed that the quesadilla maker was far, far out of our range. Instead, we settled for a Velcro-handed monkey (which I eventually up-traded with John Park for his stuffed Domo, as I have thing for adorable monsters) and four big mystery flavored Laffy Taffys.

So, Domo in hand and a mouth full of pink and green flavored taffy (yes, I know those are colors and not flavors, but at the same time, aren’t they flavors? You totally know what I am talking about when I say pink and green flavored, so I think it counts!), it was time to take our sugar-high selves home.

I imagine it will be quite a while before I hit up another arcade, but with my new Domo-buddy by my side, I think it is time to go to China.

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