She wore dark hair pulled back into a tight ponytail like an athlete. Which I suppose she was. Sporting a red hoodie stolen for her 7th grade boyfriend, she wore a look of grim determination as she expertly flipped and fiddled and thrust. Oh how she thrust. Slender hips rocking against the machine, urging, pleading. Hungry. I never knew pinball could be so sexual.
I bought her a beer and professed my ignorance. She introduced me to Johnny Mnemonic, and a whole new world filled with flippers and plungers and poppers. She taught me about touch and feel and offering just the right amount of bump without crossing over into the horribly depressing world of Tilt.
Put your hands like this, she said. Placing my hands on either side of the Johnny Mnemonic machine, thumbs resting on top, fingers doing all the work. From behind me she leaned in close, her own hands covering mine as the ball flew, setting off lights and alarms, a multicolored universe in the dimly lit bar. She rocked her hips against me as we went for mega-bonuses and multi-score combos. Eventually I got the hang of it, the flipping and rocking, but she stayed in close, moving her hands from mine across my stomach and finally into front jean pockets. Together we wore faces of grim determination as we rocked and thrust. I never knew pinball could be so sexual.
Later, when we’d run out of quarters and drank a couple pitchers, I found her straddling my lap. Johnny Mnemonic’s lights reflected in her own passionate greens. She told me that pinball reminded her of a happier time, reminded her of her childhood. She told me she’d been playing since she’d been a little girl spending weekends with her grandparents in her rural Iowa. Five o’clock meant happy hour and Budweiser at Brad’s bar for them; it meant Shirley Temples and pinball for her. Life was fun and simple then, she sighed into my shoulder. We kissed and made plans to do it again.
I showed up the next day with a bounce in my step and a pocket full of quarters, eager. She was making out with a dude in a black Volcom hat next to the Johnny Mnemonic machine. Our Johnny Mnemonic machine.
I remembered then that I’d always liked foosball better anyway.