It was one of those “when life hands you lemons” moments.
My youngest son has been getting on my last nerve. He has been pestering me about going to an arcade in the next town. Badgering me. Whining, begging, pleading, annoying me to within an inch of losing my sanity. He’s too young to understand “Mommy can’t even afford to pay the electric bill, so she doesn’t have any money for things like arcades.”
Besides, his eyes glaze over whenever I start referring to myself in the Third Person.
I don’t like arcades. The noise level and bright lights make me anxious. I get a headache and a sour attitude, and I just don’t have time to sit at an arcade developing anxiety, headaches and attitude problems. I don’t even have time to do things that don’t give me a headache. My family is so busy right now that it seems like we don’t have time to catch our breath, much less have any fun. Add to the mix my scramble for a summer job and concerns about paying my bills, a lawn that needs mowing, spring allergies and so much more, and I’m putting some serious thought into crawling under the kitchen table in a fetal position.
I’m getting good at blanket forts.
Don’t judge me.
And somehow, I’ve got to find time to finish writing Their Love Rekindled, figure out how to set up a mailing list on MailChimp, keep my blog updated, and continue building my “platform” so I can have a social media “presence” to help sell the books that I can’t find the time to finish writing.
And let’s not forget that for some random reason, my town keeps losing power for 4-5 hours at a time. With no explanation. Afterwards, my computer keeps having identity crises and I lose all kinds of documents that are supposed to be auto-saved but aren’t. Yes, I know that I should really take a computer class so I know what to do in these situations.
Let me just sign up for a class in all my spare time. I’ll pay for it with the money I don’t have.
So, on Sunday, I did what all really bad mommies would do under those circumstances: I caved. I gave in. That’s right, I rewarded my child for whining, begging, pleading, and badgering. I scraped together my last $10 that really should have gone toward gas for my car, tossed the boy into the back seat, and headed out for Klassic Arcade in Gobles, Michigan.
Let me tell you right here, right now, that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Klassic Arcade is a tiny, dumpy little blue building with a dirt parking lot. From the outside, it looks like a bit of a hole-in-the-wall. A dive. But inside . . .
Stepping through the door was like stepping through a time warp. The place was lined with wall-to-wall pinball machines and “classic” video games, including Galaga, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, and Frogger. If they’d had Centipede, I probably would have passed out from sheer joy.
I paid $5 each for our wristbands that allowed us to play any of the games as many times as we wanted. Little Man and I darted from pinball machine to video game, giggling and pressing buttons without any real idea of what we were doing. I tried to remember how to play some of the games from my teenage years, but let’s be honest here – back then, I never went to arcades to play the games. I went to meet the boys who played the games.
Except Centipede and Tempest. I was really competitive when it came to those two games.
I had told my little boy that we would stay for only a few hours. I fully anticipated a loud, overcrowded and overwhelming Chuckie Cheese type of experience. But Klassic Arcade is nothing like Chuckie Cheese. Small, personal, friendly, and with a little snack counter that has over one hundred different flavors of soda pop to choose from, most of which are in pretty glass bottles. It was actually cozy, if you can imagine an arcade being cozy.
Now, remember those random power outages I mentioned earlier? Forty-five minutes into our Klassic Arcade adventure, another one hit. And that’s when things got weird.
Nobody demanded a refund.
Nobody even seemed upset. Customers sat down at the charming little tables at the snack counter and chatted with each other. We bought bottles of pop (ours was red apple) and took turns opening and closing the cooler doors quickly to keep everything nice and cold inside. My son and I shared our red apple pop, which turned our tongues bright red and gave us both red moustaches. After that, he and I wandered outside, where he proceeded to find ten four-leaf clovers. Ten. I’ve never even found one.
He also found two five-leaf clovers, but I haven’t decided if those were extra-lucky or just a weird freak of nature that could only be found by a member of my family.
I don’t know if the two men working there that day were owners or employees, but they were amazingly friendly and cheerful throughout the entire adventure. I know it must have been difficult for them to lose all that business on a weekend; one of them confided that a five-hour outage the previous day had wiped out their Saturday business as well. Basically, they lost money last weekend because of the twin power outages.
But they laughed and joked with the rest of us while we waited. After thirty minutes, they handed out free passes for all of us to come back again, and then shut things down for the day. We didn’t need the passes, though; I’ll go back again. And again. It wasn’t about the vintage games or the fancy pop; it was about the friendly atmosphere, the cheerful environment, and the way the staff handled an unfortunate situation.
Life handed them lemons last weekend, and they made more than lemonade. They made people happy.
And that was pretty sweet, sort of like Sprecher’s Red Apple.