Tuesday, November 19 2019

dave & buster's

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Tuesday.

Oof. My stomach is doing somersaults this morning. Readers, I think two days straight of junk food is finally catching up with me. But even though my stomach is filled with some bad stuff at the moment, my head is filled with fun memories from yesterday, and my heart is full. Yesterday, it felt great to head back into work knowing I was finally not on duty anymore. I treated myself to some Starbucks on the way in. We had a few meetings, I worked in the morning, then heated some some leftovers. As I ate, I chatted with Marissa about the plan for the day. She had forgotten that she needed the car that evening for a dog agility class she was auditing, so picking up groceries and cooking dinner was likely not happening. “Dave & Busters?” she suggested. “YES,” I responded, quickly lighting up the chat window. The weather has been so dreary lately, and it’s hard to get the energy to do fun stuff in the evening when there is so little light. But D&B’s is like a casino, where the inside is specifically designed to obscure what time of day it is.

By Marissa’s report, once she told Rod about the evening plan with dad, he wouldn’t stop talking about it. As she recapped, he lied awake in bed when he was supposed to be napping, telling each of his stuffed animals about the plan to go play games with dad.

I have to admit, I was excited too. Not only is it fun to watch Rodney burn energy in a place like that, but I was in the mood for a plate of junk food.

Marissa dropped us off around 5:30. Rodney and I wandered around a bit, following his whims. I find that if he doesn’t get at least five minutes to see all the games up close, he’s too distracted to eat dinner. As he had his face pressed on the glass of a mechanical claw game, I suddenly remembered that I may have still had some leftover points on my D&B’s power card, which I proudly carry in my wallet beneath my license - half ironically.

We scanned the machine and it whirred to life. I moved the claw in position over a little pile of themed rubber ducks, and Rodney slammed the button with two hands. The claw sputtered, then lowered over the bath toys and snagged one by the neck. Rodney stared through the glass, puzzled. “You got one dude!” I yelled. The duck rolled into the little metal box above the floor. I fished it out for him - he studied the duck then held it close. We played the claw game one more time, this time Rod got excited about operating the crane himself. This game must have been rigged in our favor, because he immediately snagged another and fished it out.

We found a table, and as we waited for our food, I sipped and we watched all fifteen plasma TVs simultaneously. “DAD LOOK. BASEBALL. OH DAD LOOK. FOOTBALL. OH DAD LOOK, HOCKEY.” I think the real magic of Dave & Buster’s is how good of a job it is at distraction. It’s really hard to worry about any part of the real world while inside - not that I had anything to worry about.

Rodney ate a few chicken fingers, and I cleaned a small plate of hot wings. As we ate, we chatted about the games we wanted to play and the sports that were on the TV. There’s not much to talk about with a three year old, but all things considered, Rodney is great company. Sometimes he’ll even start new topics, like “Hey - where’s Momma?” “Great question, dude. Do you remember where you last saw her?”

As per usual, we waited a solid twenty-or-so minutes before getting our check. Rodney anxiously jumped on the cushioned set, waiting to be unleashed on some games. Finally, we paid our bill, recharged our power card, then spent the evening bouncing from game to game. Rod figured out how to spend the points himself, but I did my best to keep him from burning points on car games, since we had just as much fun sitting behind the wheel and pretending to drive. We played a few rounds of ski ball - he wasn’t quite strong enough to get the wall all the way up to any of the point scoring holes, so we celebrated each gutterball as if it were a bullseye.

We tried some ‘virtual reality’, which was named in the most generous sense of the word. Really it was a plastic massage chair that shook while you watched a scary point-of-view vignette that was loosely based on Jurassic park. Rodney gripped the metal handles as he yelled out, “DADAA LOOK DINOSAUR”.

We finished off the evening by spending some hard earned points at the gift shop. Despite the walls being filled with prizing and us having a good amount of points to spend, Rodney went straight for a small D&B’s kickball and held it to his side, giving me a look that said “OK, I’m good.” I had to encourage him to wander a bit and spend the rest of his points. We got a sticky hand, a Chinese finger trap, a ring pop, and a pink bracelet for mom.

After Marissa put Rodney to bed, I snuck into his room for a quick hug. I tucked him in as he offered me one final sleepy thanks. Desa dadda play games. As few words as possible, but it got the point across, and it warms my heart just recounting it.

Marissa and I spent the rest of the night catching up on chores, taking a small break to eat on some french toast and plan some Christmas shopping. We wrapped up chores sometime after eleven and caught up on YouTube videos. I made the fatal mistake of eating one to many sport peppers out of the jar, which is why I’m hesitant to blame D&B’s for this morning’s indigestion. Either way, this is self-inflicted.

Today should be a nice quiet day of work, and after work, I’m really craving something that will break the junk food streak. Tonight we might be having mashed potatoes, some steamed vegetables, and maybe a chicken breast. And no sport peppers are going near it.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today.