Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Beach Arcade: A Story of Survival

     Summertime is here!  I love the sweet Summertime.  Swimming pools, BBQ's, and 4th of July fireworks.  However, one of most beloved pastimes of my family during the summer is a trip to the Beach!  The sun, the sand, and all the trimmings.  Man, how we love going down to the best coast.  Vacation at the Gulf of Mexico is a reward for a year of school car pool lanes, teacher conferences, baseball and football practices, and general school year type things.  A wise man once said, "If you're lucky enough to be at the beach, well you're lucky enough."  I agree, but another equally wise man also said, "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains."  So what do you do when it rains at the beach.  Keep reading for the answer.

     There are a few options available to the weary beach goer when rain does begin to fall on those sugar sand beaches and emerald green shorelines.  Maybe a movie?  This is always a good option, but when you have picky children who like a broad spectrum of movies it can be a trap.  It's hard to find a sports themed horror movie starring Taylor Swift.  So if not a movie then maybe the mall?  This would entice the younglings to buy things, and we have way too many things around here to begin with.  Buying things just for the sake of buying things is not a good way to spend a day.  Well, it is if you are independently wealthy, but that ain't us.  So what does that leave?  You know the place.  The 25,000 tickets for 10 cents worth of crap place!  The place where all the sunburned beach goers flock to when the rain begins to fall at the beach.  The Arcade!  Enter at your own risk.
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     When you walk in, the place sounds like a cross between a war zone and a Star Wars movie.  The space you've just entered smells of popcorn, plastic, and an electronics store.  Normally, these locations have a very good air conditioner, because of the potential to reach maximum capacity quickly!  That many people in one place could lead to not only body heat issues, but other bodily function type issues.  The latter is something that I try to avoid at all costs.  It's better that way.  One immediately gets the sense of, "Why the heck am I here?" upon entering this establishment, except of course if you are between the ages of 3 and around 13, maybe older depending on video game enthusiasm and potential gambling addiction issues.  Make no mistake this is a form of gambling, and that's why so many adults will drop hundreds of dollars in coins in these machines.  The pay off is not a jackpot of coins or credits or even a free trip to the buffet.  The reward is junk really.  A few cents worth of pure junk.  I know, some of these items are better than others, but for every beach chair there is a parachute man made of paper and something less than high grade plastic.  However, if the real fun is in the journey and not the destination, then rock on arcade loving people.

     Manners seem to get lost in these places though, and I would guess that the police are only moments away from being called at any given time.  One throat punch here or an elbow to the nose there.  Don't cut in front of me on the Deal or no Deal game or you'll we face the consequences.  That is the truth as I know it.  Skee Ball on one side and some type of basketball shooting on the other.  It goes on and on.  Games to the left of me, games to the right, and I'm stuck in the middle with some guy who forgot to shower this morning.  I carry the tickets.  That's my job.  I'm good at it too, but to be honest I'm always looking for and trying to execute an escape plan.  I refuse to do the exchange for prizes at the end, but I do like feeding those tickets into that machine that eats them.  That's fun.  It must be some primal need to purge all the bad mojo from my person or my chakra or chi.  I tend to get my chi wrapped all around my chakra, and it really messes up my inner balance.  I digress.  The end part is when I migrate to the parking lot or conveniently have to go see a man about a horse.  This is when it gets insane.  Nuts.  Trying to decide between a plastic Elsa doll or some Little Einstein's stickers.  The kids never pick the big ticket items either.  They want to pick all those little items that add up to the several thousand tickets that we end up with.  Slow process.  Like cooking a roast in a crock pot or something.  Slow burn.....that goes on and on and on and on.  There is no end in sight, and the guys that are working behind this counter look and act like you would expect them to look and act.  Disinterested.  I would be too if I had to work at this place.  It is hard to imagine a worse occupation than this one.  I could probably think of one or two.  Maybe not.  I think it would top the list. 

     I suppose if I have to be at an arcade, I want to be at the one that is at the beach.  Even if it's raining.  A day at the beach can't be all that bad, and even if you have to box out a few yoga panted moms to get to that Pole Position game.  Wait they don't call it Pole Position anymore.  It's probably some kind of Ninja Surfers driving Monster Trucks or something now.  I enjoyed some Pole Position back in the day.  Simple.  A steering wheel and a gas pedal.  That's it.  No bells and whistles and buttons and gadgets.  Prepare to Qualify.  I just have to remember a bad day at the beach is still pretty dang good.  Now if I could find a good game of Galaga......