Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Arcade Fire

Last night I went out with some friends I don't see terribly often. They had the idea to go miniature golfing in Sherman Oaks, so I said sure. When we got there the line to play mini-golf was around the block, so we decided to just wander around the arcade area for awhile.

Inside the arcade, it's your normal assortment of racing games, shoot 'em ups, and Dance Dance Revolution. Except....right there, in the middle of the room, was the Deal Or No Deal Arcade Game. If you haven't seen Deal Or No Deal, here is how it works. There are forty suitcases. One of them has 1,000,000 dollars, one of them has 1 dollar, and the rest have amounts in between. The contestant chooses a suitcase and then they open up the remaining suitcases one at a time. Then, the "banker" (this shadowy guy up in a booth that everyone hisses at as if he was running a Puppy Prison up there) makes an offer to the contestant based on what is likely to be in his case. The contestant then chooses Deal or No Deal to decide whether he/she will take the offer or go for the 1,000,000 dollars. The entire show is just one extended 4th grade probability word problem.

Anyway, the Deal or No Deal arcade game consists, completely, of a giant screen with scantily clad women holding cartoon suitcases, and two buttons. One says Deal, the other says No Deal. You put in something like two dollars to play this game, and get this: If you hit Deal, the game is immediately over. Because you've accepted the Deal! So, not only does this game have no action or interactive playability, but it doesn't even have any critical decision making whatsoever! Your entire job is to sit there and hit the No Deal button. That's it.

Which brings me to what I saw last night. The guy playing the Deal Or No Deal arcade game was a large white man with a goatee, a Red Sox cap and a Red Sox Jersey. He essentially looked like Larry the Cable Guy.

Okay, so this guy is playing the Deal Or No Deal game, and he is really really into it. He sits on this stool, stroking his chin intently, lowering his eyebrows at this, apparently, diabolical torture apparatus in front of him. Occasionally, he even stands up and paces in front of the machine, ignoring the families standing a few feet behind him, waiting to play this glorified Coin Flip. Of course, all he ever does, after this endless filibustering, is press the No Deal button.

You may be wondering what you can actually win in this game. Instead of money being in the suitcases, each suitcase says something like "20 Tickets". You know those tickets you exchange at arcades for prizes? I think the grand prize in the Deal Or No Deal game is something like 400 tickets, which, at Sherman Oaks Castle Park, I believe you can exchange for either a thimble full of honey, a thumbtack, or a dead bee.

Anyway, he's furrowing his brow at this thing. Beads of sweat dripping onto his hands. He's down to about four suitcases left. This man has obviously been there all day. He's going to conquer this machine, it's clear. His hands hover over the buttons and he cringes as if they make him sick, like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. He lets his left hand drop, he raises his right, and slams his palm down on the No Deal button. This is the next thing I hear:

"Goddammit motherfucker!!"

I look up and he is on his feet, slamming his fist down on this poor, pathetic machine, kicking the stool out from under him. He takes off his hat and flings it, helplessly, onto the floor. The next moment is one of those times when you realize you've just way way overreacted, like when you rent a DVD and it keeps skipping and you almost rip the thing out of the wall and go nuts rubbing the underside of the disc on your shirt.

Anyway, he finally realizes that everyone is looking at him, picks up his hat, and skuttles away. I won about 12 tickets playing Ski Ball and traded it for three paint chips.

Thank you Sherman Oaks Castle Park.


It's Mom said...

Funny story well told. I could picture it. Mrs. Strahl would be proud!

Lelah said...

I love miniature golf. We should totally go sometime. Especially in Sherman Oaks. I will choose the blue golf ball. Or possibly purple.

Jonathan said...

I sense a pending Mahalo Writer's Group Mini Golf Tournament...