Yes, you read that correctly. The arcade. Where you play video games. And air hockey. But mostly video games. Loud ones, with flashy lights, and sticky dings.
So Rich decided that for his birthday celebration last week, he wanted to go to the arcade. He turned 28. Yes, not 6, or 16 – 28. And while I am not above a little fun at the arcade, I am also not above a little mockery. But in this case, it turned out to not be totally justified.
This was not just any arcade – it was “HOT ZONE!!!” One of the bigger malls here in Rio in the wealthy suburb of Barra boasts this fantasy land of electronics, the thrills of victory, and the indignity of the crushing defeats that can come from losing the horse racing game because your “horse” is missing an ear, and you couldn’t figure out how to steer the darned thing, and you were trying to figure out how fast you had to rock back and forth and jump up and down to make the stupid computer animal go forwards.
Rich was able to get a smidgen of video of Jenna and I racing against each other – perched atop our pink and yellow plastic mounts, rocking back and forth like a five-year old who has to go to the bathroom badly but won’t admit it, yelling at the horse and the screen and trying to not fall off as we rocked ever faster and faster. I probably would have beat Jenna – she was doing well most of the race, but she just got tired of rocking – if I had remembered that to steer a horse in the way you want it to go, you point its head in that direction. Unfortunately, I didn’t, so my stupid horse kept running into the wall. Not even a few strokes of the riding crop could seem to motivate “Buttercup” (my dashing stallion) to catch up to the rest of the pack. I’m still a bit bitter.
(And this is why I don’t often go to arcades or play the video games. As much as I enjoy them, I get way too into them – when I left after an hour and a half or so in the “HOT ZONE” (having stretched my four games that I played by watching and cheering on the others of our group) – my hands were shaking from the adrenaline of trying to shoot all the zombies before they got me. And I didn’t. The zombies managed to get me in the end. They always do… sigh…)
But it was a fun time with the Nichols (it was Anna’s first trip to the video games – they’re starting her out young!), Jenna, Dave, and Cleyton and Andre (two of our carioca friends). And it was made much more fun by the community aspect of us playing with or against each other as possible, and by the rest of the group watching and cheering them on. And while I don’t want to stretch the analogy and claim some great epiphany from our trip to the arcade, it was a good “community-building exercise…”
Now if I could only figure out how to do the same thing with surfing and the beach…