Johnny America


Pin­ball Wizard


For my birth­day, I’d like to go some­where that has pin­ball be­cause I’m amaz­ing at pin­ball. And if there are some sin­gle girls out on the town, they’ll see me play­ing and think to them­selves, Wow. Who’s that guy play­ing pin­ball? He’s amaz­ing. They’ll crowd around the ta­ble, but I won’t look up to ac­knowl­edge them be­cause I’ll be cul­ti­vat­ing an air of mys­tery and want­i­ng them to see my in­cred­i­ble ded­i­ca­tion. Af­ter I trounce the high score on my first ball, I’ll just walk away and let oth­er, less­er peo­ple fin­ish the game.

Be­cause I’ll have earned such an im­pres­sive score, the next play­ers will have got a free go, but few ob­servers will be in­ter­est­ed in watch­ing them play. In­stead, they’ll be watch­ing me, saun­ter­ing back to my seat to en­joy a pint and a chat with a mate as if noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar had just hap­pened. Even­tu­al­ly, one of the sin­gle girls will pluck up the courage to ap­proach me and say, “I saw you play­ing pin­ball be­fore and it was amaz­ing!” And I’ll be like, “Cheers,” and play it off as if it’s just an every­day thing for me.

She’ll say, “You know I love a man who knows how to play pin­ball. And you know what they say about men who can play pin­ball.” I’ll an­swer by say­ing, “Big shoes?” and we’ll have a laugh be­cause we both know ex­act­ly what they say about men who play pin­ball and it’s not that they have big shoes; it’s that they’re sexy, cul­tured gentleman.

I’ll say to the sin­gle girl, “Let’s go back to mine,” and we’ll catch a cab. But since it’s my birth­day, I won’t have any pock­et mon­ey and she’ll have to pay the whole fare. I’ll at­tempt to say some­thing clever and smooth to re­mas­cu­late my­self as she pays the dri­ver, but I’ll fail and end up say­ing, “That’s not the on­ly thing you’ll be pay­ing for,” like a gigo­lo lack­ing in so­cial graces. She’ll look a bit con­fused and smile.

When we get to my house, I’ll make her wait out­side my room while I throw dirty clothes in­to the wardrobe and hide my rub­bish, used plates, and cut­lery on the win­dow ledge be­hind the cur­tains. I’ll light tea lights and spray de­odor­ant so that my room smells nice. We’ll fall on­to the bed to­geth­er and start kiss­ing and re­mov­ing each other’s clothes and I’ll say, “Hold on a sec­ond,” then queue up the movie Tom­my on my com­put­er and put the “Pin­ball Wiz­ard” scene on Re­peat-Play. The whole time I’ll be tens­ing my stom­ach mus­cles so she’ll think I have a bet­ter body than I do. The sin­gle girl’ll say some­thing like, “Oh, I didn’t re­al­ize you worked out; you’re so sculpt­ed,” but I’ll be so in­ten­sive­ly tens­ing my stom­ach mus­cles that I won’t be able to an­swer. In­stead I’ll smile awkwardly.

We’ll have rub­bish sex and I’ll turn away from her af­ter­wards and silent­ly cry be­cause she’s not the girl I re­al­ly want to be sleep­ing with. Even though the sin­gle girl’s in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful, the mem­o­ry of the whole act will feel like de­feat. Even though I should be hap­py she’d want to sleep with me, be­cause she’s out of my league. I’ll try telling my­self that I should be elat­ed be­cause she’s beau­ti­ful and out of my league, but it won’t help at all. She’ll no­tice that something’s wrong and she’ll try to spoon me and ask, “Are you ok?” The whole sit­u­a­tion will be­come so over­whelm­ing that I’ll break down in­to tears and yelp how I imag­ine a yeti would yelp.

She’ll try to com­fort me, say­ing, “Come on. It’s ok. What is it? I’m here for you,” but I know that af­ter­wards she’ll tell her friends what I freak I was. And when I text her a few days lat­er, she’ll pre­tend she’s busy. I’ll sug­gest an­oth­er date and she’ll do the same thing. I’ll do it one more time a week lat­er un­til I get the pic­ture and nev­er text her again, which makes her feel bet­ter be­cause she didn’t have to ac­tive­ly re­ject me even though she re­al­ly did re­ject me and it would have been bet­ter for her to just be hon­est (but that hon­esty should be truth mi­nus 30% bru­tal­i­ty). I’ll re­flect on where my life is go­ing and why I’m so in­se­cure that I feel the need to im­press peo­ple with my pin­ball skills. Then it will dawn on me that I’m just a los­er and I’ll al­ways be pa­thet­ic. I’ll spi­ral in­to an in­cred­i­bly deep, dark de­pres­sion cul­mi­nat­ing with my sui­cide, which no one will no­tice un­til sev­er­al days have passed.

A lot of peo­ple will at­tend my fu­ner­al and one of those peo­ple who has a rub­bish nose will text my phone num­ber (which will at that point be dis­con­nect­ed) to say that they are run­ning late and could I let peo­ple know. He’ll show the mes­sage to his friends at the wake af­ter­wards, say­ing, “That’s the sort of thing he would have done. He would have liked that. He would have found it fun­ny… if he were still alive.” Then they’ll share sto­ries about me and the on­ly spec­ta­cled lad in the group will say, “Re­mem­ber that time when he wrote a weird sto­ry about cel­e­brat­ing his 31st birth­day and play­ing pin­ball?” and they’ll laugh about how com­plete­ly fu­tile and point­less some of the things I did were.

One of the lads (who has rub­bish hair) will say, “I re­mem­ber he once told me that he had an Or­wellian An­i­mal Farm view of life. He told me that, “every­thing is point­less but some things are more point­less than oth­ers.” An­oth­er man in the group (with rub­bish fash­ion sense) will say, “You know what? He was ca­pa­ble of some quite pro­found thoughts, but I got so fed up with him dress­ing them up with such silli­ness.” He’ll quick­ly re­al­ize that this sounds a bit neg­a­tive be­cause the oth­er lads will make faces to sug­gest that they feel awk­ward. So he’ll add, “But I miss him,” and they’ll all agree and then call a toast. “To Man­sour,” they’ll say as they clink their pint glass­es together.

Filed under Commentary on November 28th, 2014

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