Thursday, 3 March 2011
Amused by the irony, I made the monsters stop and pose for a picture beneath the retro looking sign, not realising at the time the significance 'Joyland' would have to our family (and my sanity) in the coming days.
Grandpa reached into his pocket, emptied some quarters into the monsters outstretched hands, then smiled indulgently as he watched them rush off to deposit the coins into whichever games took their fancy. While Dumpie wisely pocketed most of his change (no doubt recalling that at the next visit to a grocery store they could be exchanged for a handful of bubblegum from the candy machines) Egg raced to the long line of 'Skee-Ball' machines and excitedly began whipping the balls up the ramp and into the little holes, exclaiming as a band of tickets came out of the machine according to his score.
He was hooked. That was it. And those Skee-Ball machines gobbled up the equivalent of several more dollars until we dragged Egg off them, propelling he and Dumps to the back of the arcade where all their tickets could be exchanged for 'prizes'.
I use this term loosely, for the prizes mostly consisted of bits of useless plastic, or tiny little penny candies - clearly one had to spend a weeks salary to get even close to earning enough tickets to nab one of the tantalizing prizes on the upper shelves. Much to our humiliation, the monsters put up such a stink about the useless 'prizes' they could choose from, that they elicited sympathy (or should I say pity) from a passing couple who felt compelled to stop and offer up their tickets to the cause. I felt like a charity case. And the sad part is that we STILL didn't have enough tickets to trade in for anything even remotely interesting.
Then Egg spied something twinkling in the glass shelves over by the other end - spotting a selection of totally fake (and cheap) sparkly big 'diamonds'. He shrieked with glee (Egg is into all things jewel right now - sparkly gemstones, crystals, diamonds...) and exclaimed that THAT was what he wanted. (At this point he was positively jumping up and down for joy, clapping his hands and generally making a racket in all his excitement.)
Glancing at the 120 points worth of tickets in our hand, I shot a look of defeat at the husband. The ring would need 1200 points - a minimum of thirty dollars or so worth of decently scored Skee-Ball games the husband reckoned.
So amongst vehement protestations we traded in our fistful of tickets for two microscopic plastic lizards and two giant plastic dice, one of which immediately broke, and the boys turned away disappointed, eyes downcast, Egg mumbling about the fact that all he ever wanted in the whole wide world was a diamond and now he had found the biggest one in the whole world and he couldn't have it.
I thought this would be the end of it, but sadly not. Every single day since then Egg has begged to go back to Joyland. He doesn't care about the beach, isn't interested in theme parks or playing games. He just wants to go back to Joyland and play enough Skee-Ball games to win the bloody diamond.
The day before the husband left for his crazy three week Key West Cycle Excursion, out of guilt, or perhaps misplaced glee about being able to escape his domestic confines for such a blissfully long time, he took Egg back to Joyland to win some more tickets...dragging Dumps and I along for the ride.
Egg was ecstatic to be back and promptly, with dizzying single-mindedness, set about emptying the husbands wallet of all the cash he could beg, borrow and plead for, and Skee-Balled himself mental. (To his credit, he's getting rather good...disturbingly so). Even Dumpie got in on the action - finding another gambling machine where you have to punch a button to stop these twinkling lights when they land on a certain place.
When Dumpie first came running up proudly clutching a whole long strip of tickets, we assumed he had been given them or stolen them from a machine someone had abandoned. But no. With shock I followed him over to this flashing light game, watched as he popped in a quarter and proceeded to concentrate with all his might (though he could barely reach up on his tippy-toes to see the lights) and 'WHAM' - whacked the button at the exact right time and glanced upward gleefully as the machine beeped manically and spit out a huge row of tickets. Well I'll be darned.
Maybe Dada doesn't have to go back and get a job after all. Maybe we've been blind to the fact that a gambling genius abides in our house and all we need to do is foster this illicit skill of his and get him on the Vegas circuit asap.
Craps....here we come...