Sometimes I go to an arcade with the usual pilgrims. We flit from golden basketball hoops to confessional-sized shooting simulators, ripping the attached cords from the plastic rifles. A pair at the billiards table shoot and sink balls, letting sport be the medium for their hot and heavy remarks (“got that one good, didn’t you?”). Dropping coins into pitchers of alcohol and air hockey tables, shaking their hips free of proverbial lingerie, divvying up and diving into the arms of a one-time-only other half. Occasionally, a gutsy schoolchild will try to seduce a prize out of the chain smoking pseudo-priest behind the ticket counter. Gender doesn’t matter to him, just as long as you’re pimple-free and he gets his fill tonight.
I play the dinosaur hunting game, sweating inside the makeshift cubicle painted orange and black to look like a safari vehicle. Raptors crow at my back, thumping along the pixelated scarlet jungle, but somehow I avoid a Technicolor demise. This is a miracle in itself, for I am not even looking at the screen. I am turned towards the one-way panel of darkened glass that hides me from my compatriots. The light bends and refracts in such a way that I can see, with a clarity that turns my stomach, their endeavors everywhere: a femme fatale in cowhide boots running her hands over the baize, a male duo sticking mutilated coat hangers up a ticket dispenser, a birthday girl reapplying purple gloss in a dank corner. But these objects of teenage action and reaction do not hold my interest. The gaze swivels and searches, and finally alights upon the objective of the pilgrimage. Over there, to the far right, in blue jeans, that’s you, losing your soul to the DDR machine.