Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rest Stop Games

She finds the games at the turnpike rest stop. She grabs my hand and runs to show me where they are. There are lights and sounds and toys and it's all very exciting.

I remember feeling that way.

The pirate pinball machine is too scary. The driving game is too much like her real life. What she wants is to play the toy grabbing games. The ones that have claws and prizes and the possibility of something wonderful in the end.

We try them all, but the claws don't grab any fairy themed bracelets or Ohio themed teddy bears. We put our quarters in, but get nothing in return.

She's understandably disapointed.

I try to tell her that the games are a bit of a racket. That the claws are designed to do the opposite of what you'd think they're for. They're not built to grab, but to let things slip right through. They're designed to disappoint.

But how can a two year old understand this? Why would she want to? What would I want her to? That the world is filled with promises that are designed to break is something she'll learn. But what else can I tell her? Short of pumping quarter upon quarter into these stupid machines, hoping to get a cheaply made synthetic fiber filled piece of crap, there's nothing I can do to restore her sense of fairness about the world.

And then along comes Dave. He finds the smashed penny machine. He lets Lisel pick out the design that will be smashed into it. Helps her load the coins in -- first a penny, then two quarters. He holds the crank with her and turns it as they watch the coin make its way though the smasher wheels. And when it comes out, thinner, its presidential profile exchanged for a new lucky horseshoe design, he puts it in her hand.

"Look Lisel, you won!"

And just like that, my heart overflowing with love.


Joanna said...


texas-ex said...

great post!
fun show last night in Salisbury...
nice to meet you briefly....
saw my first ATTW show in 1971!