Thursday, October 22, 2009

Musee Mechanique

"People talk about bad losers, but you're worse. You're a bad winner."
"I'm not gloating. I just think the score speaks for itself." Chris corrected, helpfully.
It was 10:3, and not in my favour.
We were both so busy not-gloating and not-sulking that we left the black and white photo strip lying on the edge of the table football table. This scenario has apparently played itself out so many times - over Foosball, over Pac-man, over the one-armed bandit - that the museum has issued a book of these abandoned photo strips that you can buy for $20 from a vending machine by the door, which only took $5 bills.

Our library-loaned Fodor's guide had pointed out Musee Mechanique as the only must-do attraction amongst the clam chowder stalls and tourist hoards of Fisherman's Wharf. And it was easy to see the appeal... In amongst the retro shoot-em-ups and the Amstrad games were PG-rated peep shows, mechanical batting games and the monstrous Laughing Sal, whose maniacal cries had been drowning out conversations and making babies cry for a hundred years or more. In keeping with the vintage theme, most everything cost 25 cents to play. Clutching in my hot little hand a whole tower of quarters I got to wander the vast warehouse space, looking for where I could get the most bang for my buck, like a kid in a penny shop weighing white mice against space invaders in terms of value, sugar-rush and tongue-feel.

The football grudge match used up the last of our quarters - to the extent that we had to beg the bus driver to let us ride back to our hostel when we found only a couple of sorry singles lining our collective coffers. It was as we were paying our leave to Laughing Sal we remembered the photo strip.
"Glad we didn't forget these."
"They're not bad are they?" I said, "Except this one I mean..."
"Yeah you like like..." Chris trailed off.
"What?" I asked, frowning at my reflection in the square.
"I was going to say, you look like a loser, but that would be acting like a bad winner, wouldn't it?"
I snatched the photo strip back and tucked it away in the Fodor's, letting old Sal have the last laugh.

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