Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Spouse and I watched a film. The central character battled with an arcade machine for custody of a shiny object. The machine won, as they always do: it was the sort of machine that frequently pretends to grasp and dispense the item for an unsuspecting passer-by.
"Look," the victim says, face pressed eagerly against the glass, "it's picking it up! It's grabbed the very thing I want! I'm going to have it! Victory will be mine!"
Then the claw invariably releases its grip, drops the prize back into the assortment, and lets another soul go home forlorn and luckless and world-weary.
Spouse turned to me at the close of the scene and remarked, "didn't you win something once, from one of those machines?"
"I did not."
"Are you sure?"
Rarely have I been so certain, and I assured Spouse of the same.
Spouse was doubtful, but I was adamant.
"Absolutely never in my life have I won a thing from those contraptions, though I've tried. I don't even win when we go to carnivals, where you have to throw hoops or basketballs or darts or hit three somethings in a row. I never win anything."
The lecture came to a stop; I had run out of breath but I thought about how routinely at funfairs I saw babies carrying enormous stuffed ducks and dragons and dinosaurs- prizes three or four times the size of the owners- and I empty handed all the while, year after year.
"In fact," I added for good measure, "I'm lucky if I can get anything out of a vending machine."
Spouse surrendered. There are winners, and there are not-winners; when it comes to arcade machines and carnivals and keeping one's money safe, it is wise to know which society one belongs to.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 2:25 PM