No Tilt

My favorite thing at the Mt. Pleasant hotel  was the arcade. It was sealed off – you needed to slide your door card to get in. I’d jump out of the pool, wrap a towel around my waist and crank the air conditioning until it was like a refrigerator in there.

I was addicted to the Monopoly pinball machine in the corner. One quarter could last hours. Something about the logic of the game fascinated my abstract brain. I’d learn every angle and path the ball would take from each position on the flipper. It was the mystery of science, breaking the bank.

Whenever the ball was headed dead center I refused to feel helpless. Instinctively my hand would curl around the corner of the machine. I only needed a few degrees difference. I jerked the entire thing to one side –

the internal lights would shut off. A siren would sound. The flippers stopped working as I’d watch my little ball go down the gutter. On the backboard’s digital screen read: NO TILT. I had to accept it.

***



I told myself that I was going to become a member of Tilt Town, a nearby pinball club that had over 100 machines on free play. You can’t find that, anywhere. But there was hesitation. Photos made it look like it was in some big, brick warehouse with a 50 foot ceiling. I couldn’t imagine too many Normalz dishing out $80 a year to knock a little steel ball around. Now, I’ve known people who got uncomfortable if they were any place “cool” like a dance club or, you know, not online – well, I can’t breathe if I’m surrounded by too much geekery. Seeing photos of the Star Trek convention-goers hanging out in the arcade, still in costume, kept Tilt Town a bookmark and not an immediate agenda.

I told myself I was waiting until there were signs of more girls going there, until I was sure I could be there and not stand out. If anyone else could prove that they had entered the tall, metal doors and exited them alive, I told myself, THEN, then I would go for it.

Life proved me wrong.

Last week I checked on my future hot spot to see if they got in any new machines and there was a goodbye paragraph waiting.Goddammit.

Everything has to be out by the 31st. I am sorry to confirm that the Craigslist posting was our demise…

Low and behold, after some detective work…

Hmm, a .jpg link. Please be a screen cap, please be a screen cap… YESSSSS.

Craigslist>Metro Detroit> Pinball, pussy and waitresses!…

Turns out the anonymous ad caught the attention of the police. They showed up, demanded to be let inside the club and then (after finding none of the Craigslist ad to be true) handed the owner 3 pages of building code violations and demanded evacuation.

While many people voiced their disgust with the officials, it seems there was still more going on than just pinball. It’s bad enough that a bunch of men deeming themselves ‘pinball gods’ formed oddball, elitist cliques (sourcing an ex member) – I found some people claiming that the owner had a history of under-the-table habits…

“Clay really got into it deep, this time…”

They were betting on the machines, apparently. And this would not only draw people who enjoyed pinball, but gambling addicts as well. You don’t just invest your life into something and then close up shop due to problems with the rented space. So that was probably a beautiful little crowd.
 

The poor freaks. It doesn’t sound like they were hurting anyone. What a sobering sensation, like a stern pinch, having to be corrected. I should have known better. There is NO TILT.

At least, that’s what I’m told.

Empty Bar stools

 

Life got choppy, like waves that a surfer would rather not ride. To help maintain my balance, I fell silent for a while so that I could concentrate. In my quiet observations I noticed that I had gotten a drinking routine down where I’d

  1. Show up to the bar a half hour before one girl’s shift ended.
  2. Close tab, saying it’s to tip Girl #1 and begin second tab with new girl
  3. Hit up local tavern on the way home for finale. Clean slate.

This did not bode well with my internal organs. When I woke up on workdays, honestly feeling like the perfect jump-start would be to have a bottle of beer, my better half stepped in and tallied up all I knew to be true. I was using beer too often.

How I will miss seeing through my vampire eyes.

When I first moved to this village, a girl at the bar sat next to me and spilled her life in a drunken fashion, going on about her ex and the previous ownership of the place. She had a bright red turtleneck sweater on with tight, black leather pants. Definitely a size zero. Short, curly hair. She kept interrupting herself so she could step outside for a cigarette.

She had a thing for houseplants. I know, right? Fucking houseplants? She’d show up to garage sales the moment they opened to see if any were for sale. Weird. But I secretly loved it, and loved her.

After she gave me her number she said, “Call me. I mean it.”

“Okay.”

“No, don’t just fucking say you will. Really. Call me. You are like, super nice. I don’t find that too often.”

Never called. Looked at her name in my phone for weeks. Her boyfriend trapped people’s attic animals for a living, or sold pesticides or something. They were on their way to a billiards club. Everything about them screamed P-A-R-T-Y.

I don’t do well, with Party Girls, in the long run. They end up wanting something, selfishly, and they get desperate and manipulative. I see through it and love turns to hate. Heartbreak. Mandi.

Last week I told this story to my bartender. The deleted Amber In America. My party ghost. Houseplant Huntress. She turned to the cook, also female, and asked, “Do we know an Amber?”

“Amber, with the Bug Man?”

My eyes lit up. They were probably turning red.

“She left the Bug Man and she’s with some new guy. Yeah, she comes up here on occasion. She used to work here before we bought this place back. Bad crowd, that was here for a while. One of the owners gave her a pill that had her laid out in the middle of the Street one night.”

Empty bar stools. The end? Just doesn’t seem right.

My vampire eyes made a wish that I cannot forget.

Snap Demo

If you pluck one of the flowers from a snap dragon plant and squeeze at the sides with your fingers, it will open and close like a mouth.

:) My aunt Robin showed me that when I was really little.

Monday Drift.

Last night I dreamed that the snow came down like mad. White winds, blowing across the streets. Trucks sliding around. February once more.

I thought, “Awesome. I can call off.”

Then I woke up. No snow. No excuse. Boo.

The morning DJ said, in his traffic report, “With all of these accidents out here you’d think it was a snow day“.

I can imagine.

War On YUCKAS

When I first got my sun bed, it was filled with yuckas (or ‘yucca’s). Their full-grown ugliness can be seen HERE. Why anyone would want that pointy, dead and deteriorating look is beyond me. As I have stated before, it wasn’t so easy as simply digging them out or even burning them to the ground. Their root system runs deep under the dirt, tunneling everywhere in a grid. If you don’t get all of the bulbous root then whatever is left will just sprout more yuckas.

I got most of them in the sweltering heat of last summer. But I haven’t gotten them all.

Today I spotted a yucka trying to come back. It’s small and looks a lot like crabgrass. Undoing some of my hard work, I moved mulch to the side, took a deep breath and dug with my shovel. I was lucky enough to bring up the leftover root system, which almost never happens!

You can see from the photo, how it was cut from both ends during the last attempt at removal. Normally the base of these things is like a large salami package. Dirty and invasive. Easy to hate.

Curious, I scratched the inside of the bulb and was totally grossed out by what happened:

Yeah. That’s a greasy goo. Or YUCK, if you will.

One less nasty bastard to worry about.

Some more good news – look who I spotted as I was rotating the container garden:


The adult toad that was missing! She’s burying her fat head into the little holes in my bricks because they fill up with all sorts of insects. I seem to have constructed a sort of buffet!

They’re Aliiiive

This morning I went out to water everything when I noticed a peculiar motion in the grass. My hose for the front yard doesn’t have a pressure nozzle because I like how it pours naturally, hitting the ground with full force, which is good for depth. As I quickly filled a few bare spots, creating temporary puddles, something crawled out from the dirt to avoid taking a swim!

BABY TOAD!
He is about the size of my thumbnail.

I keep a small mason glass out there, mingling with the other garden containers, for such a thing! Look how cute. I tossed my hose down and scooped him up for a photo.

I’d like to mention that if you ever want to catch a frog or toad for temporary observation, do not squeeze the animal or it will suffer and die. Carefully cup the area around it, creating a dome with your hand, and slowly curl your fingers under to get a hold of it. Secondly, never throw it in water because it will eventually get tired and drown (frogs and toads need land). Finally, do not set them in the sun because it will burn them. They need to be relatively moist and kept in shade. Do not hold them captive for more than a few minutes.

This guy gives me hope because I have not seen an adult toad for some time. I wonder if it died or just didn’t like my garden.

Just as I had let him go, rinsed the jar and gotten back to watering, I spotted another baby toad. Very cool. And something else jumped onto the concrete that I could tell was not brown and bumpy. I guessed ‘leopard frog’ and reached for my jar, again – but I knew immediately by the way it clung to my hand with tiny, rubbery toes that it was actually…

BABY TREE FROG!


Look at the suction-cup hands!

Tree frogs are special. They can climb. And they seem to have a more laid-back nature, a little less jumpy, than other frogs. Here he is, climbing the glass mason jar:


Covered in a bit of dirt and mulch, I did not attempt to wash him off for his photo op. It is best to leave that alone. (Note also: if you live where there are poisonous frogs, don’t touch any unless you ID it as safe)

And here he is, chilling at the lid (if the frog or toad is able to jump out/down, do not have it more than a couple inches from the ground or it can hurt itself):

As he made his way into the garden I was able to get one more shot:


clinging to crab grass