Do you see this thing? This evil tool from the game room of the pits of hell?
It’s the claw game. Most of you have seen one. It’s the gargantuan crack-like monster lurking in the corner of dusty and dirty game rooms in mid-rate family restaurants across the land.
And Bambi is addicted.
I mean it, I am not sugar-coating it. Where did I go wrong? Why can’t she be drawn to the mint bowl like Alpha or the lollypop stash like Cracker? But Bambi aims higher. Oh, and let me say also that Bambi is a doll. A gorgeous, sweet, funny, lovable sweetheart and I love her more than anything. But she turns…Every time we encounter the crappy animal stuffed beast, she spots it, right at the moment when we walk in. If she doesn’t find one right away, her eyes bulge with her mission, eyeballs ever searching, jutting, tearing apart the layout with tiger-like prowess. She makes her mark and she starts to jiggle, jostle around and sweat. And she spots her Shangri-La. She is instantly transformed, she is Gollum. THE CLAW THE CLAW, THE MIGHTY CLAW. From the second we sit down, she starts the “claw whine” and I know how badly it will end. It will end with her crying all the way home. But let me fill in the middle.
She starting the please game. “PPLLLEEEASSSEEEEEEEE. “
“Honey, you can’t play that game, we go through this every time.”
“But Mommy, just ONE TIME.”
“No, sweetie, no one ever wins.”
(This is when, conveniently, the little brat from the next door table returned with her gloating father, carrying a cheap ass, Korean-stuffed, lower-quality-than-carnival-crap teddy bear.)
“Just- Honey, can we order first?”
Movie in my head: I walk over the table, grab the satanic prize from the little brat and then I smack the dad in the face repeatedly while yelling at him for not being a team player.
If parents across the world would just say NO, then the owners of these establishments would remove them for non-use. But we get suckered in. Because we are hungry and we want the cheeseburger and draft beer and we can’t have them until they stop begging and we give them a fucking quarter.
We try to avoid this. Mike and I do a “claw check” when looking for a place to eat, much like the old “kid friendly-non smoking” peek in from days of yore. He double parks and I run in. If there is a claw, we move onto the next Applebees-barnabys-Hackneys-TGIF’s-crap place that we are looking to dine at…
Santa even had the elves construct a real claw game for HOME. She plays with it non-stop, while I crouch in the corner and whack my head repeatedly with a wooden spoon to the beat of the circus song that plays over and over and over and over and over an
This should sate her, we gave her the crack pipe. We let her use it in the comfort of our home. Surely, she need not go out to get a buzz. But crack kills, kids, crack kills.
We had an incident the day after Christmas. Damn, I let my guard down ONE MINUTE. We were heading to meet family at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was my cousin Coconut’s birthday and we were all coming together to celebrate.
THERE WAS THE CLAW. Stop staring at me, you big red greedy whore. You thief, you stealer of little tykes’ hopes and dreams. Starter of addictive personalities. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT.
What could we do? We couldn’t leave, this was not our gig. I could have said, “a table please, very far away from the claw”, and an older motherly hostess would, with a twinkle in her eye, lightly chuckle while winking and lean in to whisper, “I completely understand, let’s see what we can do”. And she would put us in the farthest corner from the devil box. Alas, we didn’t have Aunt Bea, but this young waitress at the prime of her life with her tight sports jersey and her perky, non-breastfed boobs and she would not get it. She will know soon enough when she starts to breed, but this time, the slutbag she seats us right smack dab in front of it. Not directly near it, but riiiiggghhhttt where Bambi can stare at it.
Who am I kidding? She would have found it. All the kids were walking around, scoping out the video situation. Planning and strategically toying with our money in their quick little minds.
I was at the women’s table with the mommies and the offspring. “A round of chicken tenders, chocolate milk back, for everyone! And three beers for us, please.” Cracker was getting a cold and was not recovered from her 5 minute nap in the car. She whipped off her shoes and hunkered down into doublefisting both her and Bambi’s chocolate milk. Seven minutes after that, the caffeine kicked in, her legs started to pump and spin like the Road runner, and for the next hour, I chased her while she did laps and half tripped every nubile, perky breasted waitress in the joint. My beer was neglected. I needed one of those hats with the beer holders and the straws – Spongebob recently owned one of those. So J.
And everytime she came back, she went to me first. Ol Battleaxe Betty who tells it like it is. “No one ever wins, sweetie. They make them that way. Yo-” (And piping in from the party of 8 in the corner) “I got one Daddy! I got one!”
Bambi claws at me, “SHHHEEEE GOOOOTTTT ONNNNEEEEEE, MOMMMMYYY PLLEEASSEEEEEE”
“Go talk to your father.”
And Mike who is sitting at the guy table, shoving habanera teriaki wings in his mouth with one hand, and alternating drinking his beer and playing computer poker with the other. He licks his fingers clean and gives her money. And the nightmare continues.
Mike gave the lil nugget almost THIRTY dollars in the span of an hour and half. Are you fucking kidding me? AND, it was in 4 quarter increments. Do you know how many times that means she went back to him to ask for more? And he gave them to her?
Oh, but by no means was she alone in all this. She had a partner in crime. My cousin, Felt and his wife, Teeth, have two adorable little boys, Heisman and Wrestler Fan. Heisman and my very sweet Alpha were happily content at the end of the table, wolfing down smily face fries and taking turns with the Nintendo DS. Apricot’s little guy, Star Wars kid, who is like a 4th child to me, brought a little buddy along with him so all the boys were content in their mini-man-dom. Cracker continued to run laps while gnawing on a chicken tender, which leaves us with the dynamic duo, Bambi and Wrestler Fan.
Those kids were nothing, if not diligent. At one point, Wrestler Fan, I think was amazed at her determination and put all his efforts into grabbing one for Bambi. And we all rejoiced! Our champion! Our knight! Victorious! Slaying the dragon and bringing Guenevere the riches of the world! Now she can shut it, sit down and eat her mac and cheese. But it wasn’t the one she wanted. She wanted the MONKEY. And there were tears. She flung the unwanted stuffed alligator at Cracker, who screeched with glee and whipped it at the couple behind us. Bambi was finally cut off. “You are CUT OFF.” She remained pouting at her seat, in claw rehab. There she moped, moaned, keened and wailed until I finally chugged my Blue Moon and declared to Mike, “Wipe your wing-stained mouth, help me grab Cracker and let’s hit it. I can’t stand it anymore.” And we dragged Bambi to the car, and she cried the whole way home.
The next morning, my cousin and Coconut’s wife Apricot called me, trying to entice me with bloody mary’s and HBO mockumentary marathons. As tempting as it was, I was in my own different little rehab, so I had to decline. But before we ended our chat, she added, “So, wow, Bambi really is addicted to the Claw. You weren’t kidding.”
Thus,we move on..we start anew, we remain vigilant in our quest for non-claw dining and we strive to encourage home use.
And the bright side is that, although she is tiny enough to do it, she has not been one of the Chuck E Cheese idiots that have tried to climb inside. Dumb, Bambi ain’t. 😉