My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas, my house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It's fun here, you'll see!

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August 20th, 2007

The Best Dollar I Ever Spent

Here’s something: If you happen to be in the San Fernando Valley, near Coldwater Canyon, stop by Pinz bowling alley. They’ve got everything: Bowling, boozing, and a Jerry’s Deli right next door. But what you really ought to see is in the back room of the arcade, in that dingy area near the pool tables, the one that’s not very well lit, home to the less flashy games. There’s a simulated bike race game, where you actually have to pedal the bicycle in order to win. There’s an older Star Wars game, and a crusty basketball game that looks like it’s from the seventies (the crappy part). There are some others, too, but they’re in that back area where layers of dust and grime filter out the visible spectrum, making it impossible to see anything. The area where you’d take your girlfriend if you wanted to, say, impregnate her. Just before that point, wedged between the basketball game and some filth, is an old Ms. Pac-Man/Space Invaders Galactica machine with chairs on either side and a horizontal screen. If you pop in a few quarters (it’s very reasonably priced next to that blasted “Dance Dance Revolution”) the Ms. Pac-Man game will proudly challenge you to beat the high score, which is 29,409 points. I know this because it’s mine. Well, mine and Ursula’s. It was a team effort, and took a mere dollar and about twenty-five minutes of our Friday night.

When Ursula and I had paid our check at Jerry’s Deli, we wandered into the bowling alley and, upon discovering that bowling was far too expensive and loud, found ourselves heading absentmindedly into the arcade. After trying several games out (I’ll spare you the details of our DrumMania disaster) we were delighted to find Ms. Pac-Man. “Liz! I used to love Pac-Man!” Urs. exclaimed in her delightful Irish accent. “Let’s do it, then, ” I said, dropping four quarters into the side of the table-like machine. I sat down and pressed start, and off I went on my mission to eat everything in sight. (Incidentally, I see a lot of parallels between my life and Ms. Pac-Man’s.) Urs. and I switched back and forth, each time making a mad dash while the new screen loaded so that precious seconds were not wasted.

I don’t know when it started, but at some point I realized that we were yelling and carrying on like a couple of dudes watching the SuperBowl: “Go Go Go! Fuck fuck fuck! NO NO NO NO-shit!”-Or-

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Go go go dammit go! Aww, man. There was nothing that you could have done. It’s okay.”

-And also-

“What the hell is that?”
“A pretzel?”
“Get the fucking pretzel! Get it get it getitgetigetit! Yesssss! Oh, crap.”

I vaguely recall a semi-soused young man coming over to us and saying, “So what’s going on here, Ladies? A little Pac-Man?”
“Yeah,” Urs. and I both half-replied.
“Cool, cool.”
But the conversation ended there, because, unless he was Blinky, Pinky, Inky or Clyde, we had no time for him. He must have left after I slammed my fist on the table and said “WHAT?! I totally got that pear thing. You saw that I got the pear, right?”

So, all told, we racked up 29,409 beautiful points. As we were getting up to leave, Urs. noticed that our number was the new high score. “Wait. Is that right?” she asked, befuddled. “Yes, Ursula” I said. “There is no denying our intense skill now.”We emerged, beaming, from the depths of the arcade. Finally out of my frenzied haze, I looked around at the rest of the establishment. Everyone was approximately my age, dressed to attract sexual partners, holding at least one drink and ogling anything with a pulse. The guys were strutting around acting meaty and fantastic, and the girls we adjusting their clothing with psychotic frequency and sucking their stomachs in as best they could. These are what I suppose you would call my peers. This well-groomed, horny, drunken crowd was “the norm.” Urs. and I, on the other hand had just spent prime drinking hours of the weekend flipping out at a little yellow thing with an insatiable appetite.

Good for us, dammit.

And that is how Ursula and I made history at an overpriced bowling alley in Studio City.

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