The ChickieNob and I had a Girl Scout trip on the Eastern shore, so we decided to go a bit early and spend the afternoon together at a nearby beach. I had called ahead to find out if our favourite arcade would be open, and while I was told that it would be, when we got to the beach, the metal garage door was pulled over the entrance. Closed.
We walked down the boardwalk to a different arcade, a much smaller one with nary a classic game in sight. The ChickieNob was bummed and didn’t really want to follow my suggestion that we play a few rounds of ski ball, but she half-heartedly fed a quarter into the slot and started rolling the balls towards the hoops. At the end of the game, two tickets slid out of her machine.
“What is this?” she asked, ripping off the tickets.
“You get tickets when you play, and then you can trade in the tickets at that desk and get a prize.”
She wandered over to the desk and saw that they had brightly-coloured metal rings. She really wanted one, but they were 60 tickets each. That’s fine, we have all afternoon.
I should add at this point that we are pretty much the only people in the arcade with the exception of the clearly stoned teenage boy who was manning the space. He was listening to our exchange since he had nothing else to do.
So we played side-by-side, cheering each other on, and we were almost at the necessary 60 tickets when the ChickieNob shyly informed me that what she really wanted was a skull ring. But that was 110 tickets, an enormous number considering how long it had taken us to get to 60. But I promised her that we could do it. We just had to play harder, play faster, perhaps not cheer and dance for five minutes every time we got anything over 20 points in a roll.
So we worked hard and finally had 112 tickets. Brilliant. We turned them over to the stoned boy who fed them into a machine. “You know,” he said, “each ticket is actually worth 5 points, so you had enough tickets about a half hour ago. In fact, you have over 500 points right now, which means you can get… 5 SKULL RINGS!!!”
Yes, he shouted it and pumped his fist.
And we stared at him.
Okay. So this was great. We could get two matching skull rings. The skull rings were awesome, and we clinked them together and said to each other “memento mori” (from A Series of Unfortunate Events, and not, let’s say, the Hermits of Saint Paul of France). The stoned boy pulled out a calculator, and announced, “YOU STILL HAVE 300 POINTS!!!”
Yes, he once again excitedly shouted it, as if our name had been called on the Price is Right and he wanted to psyche us up as we made our way down the carpeted steps.
Okay. So she picked out a few things for the Wolvog and Josh and one of her friends. Every time, he would punch the number into the calculator and excitedly tell us how many more points we had. You know what? We learned that it is really hard to use up 300+ points. We ended up with a spider ring, little plastic poppers, a handful of marbles. Finally, I told the boy that we had to give up, and he gave me our last points in arcade stickers.
The skull ring is pretty sweet. Totally worth the gargantuan effort to reach the requisite number of tickets. Sure, we went over that amount 5-fold and we had to engage in an extended conversation with the stoned boy about the DC Universe, the polar bear challenge, and his home town. But we learned an important lesson about team work and having a goal and celebrating the small milestones along the way.