If the prize is worthless trinkets, I’m the winner

FATHER’S DAZE
Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

The only luck I have gambling seems to involve winning all kinds of cheap, useless plastic toys.

But on the other hand, it did make me popular with my grandsons.

Ty and Nolan have their birthdays two days – and four years - apart in November, so we wound up at a birthday party for the two of them that also included their cousin, Aiden, and a couple of other friends.

It was at a children’s party place, filled with inflatable slides, jumps, obstacle courses and bouncy houses – a perfect place for your average six or 10-yearold birthday boy.

The adults turned all the kids loose and settled down at one of the nearby tables to watch.

Unfortunately, they don’t serve any adult beverages there, so we couldn’t fully enjoy our brief respite.

And, there were no bars nearby, so we couldn’t slip out the door and leave the kids to the fully professional staff at the party place either.

Instead, we ordered several party packs for the group, each of which included a pizza, a pitcher of soda and 25 tokens to play the arcade games.

We had five kids altogether, so that meant each one could start with 10 tokens – but as anyone who has kids knows, that’s just a starting point.

We held onto the tokens for a while, first while the five of them were busy running from bounce house to bounce house, trying them all out, then after the food arrived when they sat down to eat for a little while.

But we couldn’t keep them away from the games forever and, needless to say, the tokens didn’t last forever.

With about half a dozen adults in the party, we were soon all being hit up for money for extra coins so the five gamers could add to their collection of tickets.

The tickets were redeemable for the usual arcade prizes – rubber worms and bugs, plastic rings, rubber balls, temporary tattoos and a bunch of other worthless stuff – except it wasn’t worthless to them.

Of course, they got plenty of help from the grownups in collecting tickets.

For instance, there was a basketball net where the more baskets you made, the more tickets you won – so naturally the grownups were right there helping put the balls through the hoop.

The people who run this place are no dummies, so there’s a limit on the top score you can reach – which each of them did well within the time limit, with the help of a few big kids-atheart.

I also got a few tokens for myself to try out a few games – after all, why should the little kids have all the fun?

I stepped up to one game, a copy of the Big Wheel Showcase Showdown game on “The Price is Right” on television, and plugged in my token.

I pulled up the plunger, pushed it down and the wheel started spinning.

When it stopped, lights started flashing and a bell started ringing – I’d somehow landed on the big prize square, 500 tickets.

I’ve been to a few casinos in my life and, no matter how many coins or bills I’ve plugged in them, I’ve never hit the big prize, so it figured that my first spin on a game for tickets good for worthless trinkets would hit the jackpot.

All the noise soon got the attention of all five of the party guests, who stood around as the machine spit out 500 tickets – which took more than a few minutes.

Naturally, they were all more than willing to take my huge winnings off my hands – there were actually some pretty cool prizes you could get with that many tickets, not just rings or tattoos.

That was why I told them all thank you, but I’ll hang on to my tickets – maybe I wanted one of those neat big prizes.

Terry did take a picture of me with my long string of tickets wrapped around me – wrapped around me several times, in fact.

Actually, I’m too good a grandfather to keep all that loot for myself, but I did make the five of them sweat for a little while.

They each got 100 of my tickets, which wasn’t enough for any of the really neat big prizes, but did swell their piles of worthless trinkets significantly.

I did head back to try my hand again at the Big Wheel, but alas my luck was fleeting.

All I wound up with was enough tickets to buy five mini- Tootsie Rolls.


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