The Arcade Keeper

entry_196If you’ll pardon a momentary break in the narrative, the following is an account of my dream, as I remember it.

I woke up late, alone. Everyone else was already upstairs. It was the reunion, and we were staying at the home of K’s family, and I was disoriented. We’d been given use of the furnished basement. I got up and made my way to the hall, and saw there were three people loitering in the hall by the bathroom. I didn’t know who they were, but I assumed family. I ducked by them into a bathroom draped with wet towels that covered almost every surface.

I was unsure about the protocol in this situation, and worked up the nerve to ask the people if one of the towels was supposed to be mine. They were friendly enough, but laughed and told me there weren’t any more towels left. Just then K poked her head in and told me not to worry, she’d get another towel for me.

As she headed off I said, “Oh… yeah, everyone here uses the same bathroom.” I felt a little elitist saying it, and chastised myself. Different lifestyles were easy to denigrate, but I had to be more accepting. I hoped they didn’t take it badly.

Waiting for K, I wandered out into the hall, through the growing crowd of people, and saw that several more had gathered around a table for an informal meal, even as others stood in conversation clusters. From the kitchen, K returned with a large ceramic plate heaping with food, most of it made with white beans. I felt disappointment that she’d brought me all this food when all I’d wanted was a plate, and frustrated at how dependent it must make me look in front of her family. Did she think I couldn’t handle getting food on my own? She sensed something was up, but I just glowered and retreated through the crowd with my plate, looking for a secluded place to eat.

I headed down an immense wooden stairway that lead into a relatively quiet foyer. I hadn’t appreciated before just how large the house was, but the foyer was fairly cavernous. Still, there were some people about, so I continued to look for an out of the way spot. The foyer was lined with rooms, each behind glass French doors, and several other halls lead away. On instinct I took a left at the base of the staircase, toward a pair of doors beneath a curiously low overhand. In fact it seemed like the ceiling was sagging as if to block entrance, and in the glass of the door I caught a reflection of two figures, one right behind mine. I looked around, but I was alone.

As I approached the doors, I sensed a presence, and a strong feeling of hauntedness came over me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself through this just now, and stood for a moment, and reconsidered. But I heard people behind me, not very far away, so I went with my first instinct.
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Knee Pads

entry_195“Come on, we need a fourth man!” That’s funny. Man. We were no older than eight, and already my friends had appropriated the language of their fathers. But, much as I hated to, I was going to disappoint them on this day. There was no way I was going to run around the playground in the miasma of high-noon, not when I was wearing my Toughskins jeans. I just stared at my feet and remained against the schoolhouse wall in the shade of the eaves.

If you don’t remember the unique bondage inflicted by this particular brand of apparel, then let me take a moment to explain. Toughskins resembled normal jeans in most ways, only they were designed especially for children. The assumption was that the average child, full of energy and free of inhibition, was prone to such daily activities as scooting across gravel, falling from rooftops, swinging from branches, and the like. Thus, the Toughskins were made of an extra-durable polyester, nylon, cotton blend, the end result of which was not so very different from chain mail. Additionally, the inner lining of each knee was fortified with a rubbery patch to forestall holes forming in the most obvious place.

Unfortunately, it was this latter–the diabolical rubberized patch–that was the bane of my stunted existence. For, in the humid southern summer, the atmosphere as thick as broth, the pads would affix themselves to my perspiring knees, bonding at the molecular level, which made the possibility of normal walking nigh impossible. Throughout the day I would pluck at my knee pads, and pull my pant legs straight when they bunched up as I stood. For hours on end I would pinch the material at my knees and tug it out to create twin tents, just to keep my knees from suffocating. Needless to say I could not, so burdened, participate in normal recess activities. This was the real reason that Toughskins lasted until one outgrew them, not because they were well-crafted. I believe that Toughskins were responsible for my stunted socialization. I didn’t feel fully free until I graduated to a private school uniform many years later, but by then we were all too sophisticated to bend our knees anyway.
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entry_194Peering over the shoulders of the brothel newsletter’s editors each day, it finally dawned on me that a person’s editing style is a component of their psychological makeup. Based on my observations–field research, if you will–I methodically codified certain basic personality traits by matching my coworkers’ various methods of typo correction to their respective psychological tendencies. Of course only a certain kind of person is drawn to publish a brothel newsletter at all. Through the years there were always those who questioned, right to my face, the legitimacy of a brothel newsletter, but to those people I posed the question: which brothels have you been soliciting? Certainly not one that has to its name three Peabody Awards for Excellence in Cathouse Media. The Receptive Feline is not your father’s brothel, and that’s all I have to say on that matter.

Now, I was speaking specifically about the significance of the manner by which a person goes about correcting typos, as casual a gesture as it is. In fact it’s precisely because so little thought is involved that it’s so illustrative of one’s behavioral model. Insofar as this is the case, there are several distinct personality types worth mentioning.

The first is Annette who, when she notices a typing mistake, simply taps the cursor back to the transposed letters and corrects them. This surgical method of correction belies a confidence of character, but also a certain listlessness of soul. Social conformists, these types have no interest in exploring the circuitous route. Every problem has a single solution. They are moral absolutists, but only out of convenience. They fall down when punished, and do not get up again. They just look up at you from the floor with their resigned cow eyes, as if to say, “I knew it was you.”
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