Pinball Wizard

by Mansour CHOW

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.

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