964. Win something from a claw machine

Ah, yes, the dreaded claw machine. No one ever thinks about them until they spot one in an arcade or a grocery store, and that’s when trouble strikes. Usually, most of the group tries to pretend like they never even saw it, or say “Who would waste money on that?”

But there’s always at least one in the group who can’t resist the challenge. The one who laughs in the face of whatever financial peril the rest of them say you will befall if you try the machine. The one who has a fire burning in their eyes that can only be extinguished by the victory of obtaining whatever arbitrary Pixar character lies trapped inside that glass box.

So, you scoff at your more timid companions, saying, “Pshh, what’s so tough about that? I can get that gold watch and teddy bear with one quarter, you bunch of sissies.” That is, until you actually try it. Sure, the claw acts like your friend at first. “We can do this,” it telepathically tells you.

But it soon becomes all too clear that your new four-fingered ally is not as determined to grab those prizes are you are. Just when it looks like it’ll catch the limb of some overly-sized stuffed animal, it just feebly closes on itself, empty-handed, then slowly takes the walk of shame to the prize dispenser, where it drops its glorious nothing into the bin for you.

“That doesn’t count, my hand slipped,” you say, and then try again. And again and again and again, your trash-talk slowly dwindling down to, “Man, this thing’s gotta be broken!”

“Come on, let’s just go,” one of the others say.

“Seriously, we won’t be able to afford our bills this month if you keep it up,” another says.

But you don’t let them instill doubt in yourself. It’s no longer just a game anymore. No, this is personal. This is you proving your dominance over the rest of the animal kingdom (even if they are all stuffed). So you persist, continuing to calculate exactly how this infernal claw moves and just how long vertically and just how long horizontally you need to move it before pressing that button.

Sometimes you even get it to grab the thing and pull it up, but it drops it along the way. Gradually, it gets closer and closer, the suspense building in the air, until finally, in one beautiful moment, it drops it into the bin. The Karate Kid’s “You’re the best” starts playing in your head as you first pump the air and jump up and down with your new toy.

At the end of it all, you ended up paying 15 bucks and a lot of sweat and toil for some stupid knick knack you could have bought for 1.50, but it was well worth it. Because you have something far more valuable than some stupid knick-knack. You have bragging rights, my friend, the kind that can easily get you laid in any bar, at least twice.

Original photo found here.

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