I spent the weekend in Portland, visiting my friend Lauren. Lauren and I were housemates in Oxford, and this was only the second time I’ve seen her since then; it’s been more than a year since the last time, and we haven’t really kept in any kind of touch. In fact, she didn’t even know I was coming until last week. But it was the kind of instant good-time weekend that you want from a 36-hour visit. We talked a lot, we played with her dog Petey, we watched movies. We finally exchanged phone numbers. At first I was relieved that we’re still good friends, then it seemed natural. No doubt it’ll go that way next year, too.
Only a couple of you have met Lauren, so I’ll let one vignette speak for her, and for the whole weekend. On Saturday night, she and some friends took me to a Nickel Arcade–$2.50 to get in, and inside are all kinds of games (arcade games, claw games, skee ball, air hockey) which cost between one and four nickels (two is average). They sell nickels in $2 rolls, I used up three of them. At the end of the night, I had only something like 150 tickets, so I got a wiffle ball and bat. Lauren, though, got 280 tickets, and spent a long time browsing the available prizes. Finally she decided.
“I want a bunch of plastic dinosaurs,” she said.
The dinosaurs in question were so cheapy. They were hollow, with garish colors, and only four or five different dinosaurs, including one which I think doesn’t exist–it looked like what they used to think Iguanadon looked like. But they were five tickets each.
“What’s 280 divided by five?” she asked. The answer is fifty-six.
She turned to the woman at the counter. “I want fifty-six plastic dinosaurs,” she said.
The woman gave her a bag, and Lauren put all the dinosaurs available (twelve) in it. They went into the back and got another bag, then another. Lauren had a plastic supermarket bag full of cheap plastic dinosaurs, and she was just the happiest person.
At the time of this writing, she’s used a bunch of them to decorate her room. Standing on a shelf, they like some fluorescent dinosaur conga line. She’s still got about half of them left, though–and she’s talking about going back to the nickel arcade to win more.
Visit soon, Lauren.