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chapter eleven

     "The neat thing about this arcade," said Trevor to Cindy as they entered Ali Baba's Palace, "is that there's such a variety of games. Almost anyone can find SOMETHING here that they like to play, from little kids all the way up to grandparents. In fact, you see those Skee-ball games over there? My grandpa said he used to play that when HE was a kid. He brought me and Cory here once when I was eleven, and he beat both of us at it. He did pretty good on one of the pinball machines, too. C'mon, let's get some tokens."
     As Trevor was feeding a five dollar bill into the token machine to get 24 tokens, Cindy finally spoke again.
     "What kind of game do you like best?" she asked.
     "I like the sports games and the driving games," Trevor answered.
     "What about the shooting and fighting video games?" Cindy wondered.
     "I don't like those very much," replied Trevor.
     "Because you don't approve of the excessive violence in them?"
     Trevor looked at Cindy and chuckled. "I suppose I could score some easy points with you if I said 'yes'," he answered, "but the fact is, it's mostly because I'm just not very good at them. Although I suppose it's possible that I'm not good at them because part of me IS bothered by the violence."
     Cindy smiled. "I hope so," she said. "But in any case, thanks for being honest about it. That means a lot to me."
     "No problem," Trevor replied. "I was raised that way too."
     Cindy looked around for a few seconds. "When I was here before, I mostly just watched," she said. "I mean games, not just boys. I didn't think I'd be able to play any of the games very good, and I proved it when I finally tried."
     "What did you play?"
     "The one over there where you fly the airplane, and the video basketball game."
     "Look," said Trevor, putting his arm loosely around Cindy. "Anyone who can pitch a softball as accurately as you do has enough muscle control and coordination to be able to play at least some of these games. Maybe not the real fast-action ones, like the two you tried, and some of the shooting and fighting games you were talking about; but I bet you could do the driving games all right. Besides, it's good practice for when we start driving for real. That's not that far away anymore."
     Cindy shrugged. "Sure, why not?" she said with a smile. "It's your money."
     "That's the attitude!" said Trevor, smiling back. "Go for it, and milk your boyfriend for all he's worth!"
     Cindy laughed. "I want to say, 'I didn't mean it that way'," she said, "but now I know that you know that."
     "All right then, let's get you into the driver's seat," said Trevor, as he began to move toward an unoccupied game. "Your chariot awaits this way."
     "Ah...can I watch you play first?" asked Cindy as she followed him. "So I'll have at least some idea what I'm doing when I try it myself?"
     "Don't mind if I do," Trevor replied as he climbed in behind the wheel.
     He inserted two tokens into the slot. The screen cleared, and then showed a race car on a starting line. A line of text in the center of the screen read, 'touch pedal to start'.
     "I picked this game," said Trevor, "because it's the easiest of the four driving games here. There's no clutch on this one, and there's only two gears. The other three have at least four gears, and two have clutches. It's not as new as the others, so the graphics aren't as good, but there's less to keep track of. It'll be a lot easier for you to learn, seeing as you're a beginner.
     "Now, you start out in low gear, but you shift to high as soon as you pick up some speed. If you floor the accelerator, you can shift after only a second or so. After that, you only need to downshift and brake on the bigger turns and combination turns. On the smaller turns you don't have to shift, you just brake a little. When you get farther into it there's more of the trickier turns, and it gets harder; but for the first part it isn't too bad. You have to complete each course within a certain amount of time in order to go on to the next one. Extra time from each level is added to the next level, so it's important to get through every level as fast as you can, if you want to keep it going, 'cause each course gets harder to complete in time. OK, I'm gonna start now."
     He rubbed his hands together for a second, then got a firm grip on the wheel; then suddenly his right foot slammed the accelerator to the floor. A second later, in one smooth sequence, he pulled his foot off of the pedal, took one hand off the wheel and slapped the shift lever into the 'high' position, then stomped on the accelerator again.
     "You really expect ME to do THAT?" exclaimed Cindy. "Reality check!"
     "Well, you won't do it that good right away, of course," replied Trevor. "I've played this game lots of times. It takes practice, like anything else. But you have to start somewhere." While he had been speaking, he had shifted down and back up as he continued to guide the video car through the race course.
     "You make it look so easy!" said Cindy in amazement.
     "You make hitting the outside corner at the knees look easy," Trevor replied. "That's at least as hard as this. Probably harder."
     "Yeah," said Cindy softly. "I guess you're right."
     Trevor was able to keep the game going for over five minutes before he finally ran out of time on the sixth course.
     "Not too bad," he said to Cindy, "although I got to level ten once. I wish you could have seen that one!" He climbed out of the driver's seat, extended his hand toward it and said, "Your turn!"
     "I don't know," said Cindy uncertainly.
     "I do," replied Trevor. "Look, we still got 22 tokens. You can do this five times and we'll still have over half of them left. Go for it!"
     "I give up!" said Cindy in feigned exasperation, and climbed in behind the wheel.
     "OK, now don't worry about doing things fast the first time," advised Trevor. "Just try to get the mechanics down."
      Cindy smiled. "You mean I should run over the car repairmen?"
     Trevor burst out laughing, and Cindy started laughing with him.
     "Slain with my own joke!" he said as he laughed.
     When their laughter had subsided, Cindy touched Trevor's arm.
     "You know," she said, "I think that's going to be my favorite joke from now on, 'cause it was the first joke you ever said to me."
     "That makes it my favorite, too!" agreed Trevor. "And now that we got that out of our systems, you ready to drive?"
     "Sure!" she declared. "Let's do it!"
     Trevor inserted the tokens, and said, "Any time you're ready."
     "All right," replied Cindy. She took a deep breath, gripped the wheel, and pressed her right foot down on the accelerator. After a second she tried to do the shift, but she forgot to take her foot off of the pedal, and the shift lever wouldn't work.
     "No no, you have to pull your foot off," said Trevor. "Try again."
     She did, and this time she got her foot off and made the shift; but as she moved her hand back to the wheel, she accidentally knocked the shift lever back to 'low' before she hit the accelerator, and found herself stuck in low gear again.
     "I can't do this!" she exclaimed in frustration.
     "Yes, you can!" stated Trevor. "OK, start over. I'll talk you through it. Nice and slow now, hit the accelerator...release accelerator...shift...hit accelerator... to the floor!...See, you did it!"
     "I did, I did!" said Cindy excitedly. As she spoke, she turned her head to look at him.
     "NO, NO, WATCH THE ROAD!" cried Trevor. "Turn, turn!"
     She ran off the road and slowed way down.
     "All right, it's OK," said Trevor more calmly. "Shift down...good, now get back on the road...all right, now floor it!...release accelerator...now shift...floor it again!...good, good!...No, no, don't jerk the wheel, turn it smoothly!"
     "Oh, I'm off the road again!" said Cindy.
     "Don't worry, you know how to get back on," Trevor continued. "Go ahead...now do the shift...good! Now, you don't have to turn the wheel so much. Force yourself to turn it smoothly, and just a little at a time...OK, big turn coming up, ease off the accelerator as you go into it, and downshift...good...now, don't turn too hard...easy, easy!...kinda tap the brake a little...good, now floor it again!...Shift!...Yes, you're getting it!...Oops, last ten seconds. You're not gonna make it, just get as far as you can...hold the road!...Oh, you went off again. But your time's up anyway."
     "That wasn't very good, was it?" asked Cindy.
     "You kidding?" replied Trevor. "You did better than I did the first time! Let's go for it again!"
     "Absolutely!" Cindy declared. "I wanna do better!"
     On her second game Cindy still didn't complete the first course, but she came much closer. On her third game, however, she not only got through the first course, she almost made it to level three. She decided to quit while she was ahead.
     "That was really fun!" said Cindy as she started to climb out of the driver's seat. Trevor offered her his hand to assist her. She took it, and when she was standing she gave it a squeeze. "Thanks for talking me into trying that!"
     "My pleasure!" replied Trevor. "I told you you could do it. What do you want to try next?"
     "I don't know," said Cindy. "You have any more ideas?"
     "Hmm," said Trevor, looking around. He snapped his fingers. "I got it! How about a game we can play together? The air hockey table!"
     "Good idea," replied Cindy. "At least for you. You'll cream me at it."
     "Now, there you go again!" said Trevor, as he led Cindy toward the air hockey game. "If you can handle that driving game, you can do air hockey. In fact, you should be able to shoot the puck more accurately than I can."
     "Maybe, but I can't shoot very hard," argued Cindy. "You'll be able to stop all my shots, and I won't be able to react fast enough to yours."
     "What's it gonna take to get you to believe in yourself?" asked Trevor in mild annoyance. "I hate to see you keep trying to give up before you even start. I insist that we play air hockey, just to prove to you that you CAN play it well!"
     "OK," sighed Cindy. "You talked me into it again."

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