Prior to the start of our second league night, Mike S. told me that he was going to be playing in my group. I asked how he could know that, and he said that he just had a feeling that we would be grouped together. But it didn’t happen: when Mike’s group was called, I wasn’t in it, and I said, “Aw, I wanted to play with Mike! I never get to play with Mike!” Sarah decided to chime in too, agreeing that she hasn’t played with Mike in ages. Matt yelled at us to calm down, saying “after league is over we can all get in line to play with Mike!”
The night was the largest we have had in some time. The league’s practice is to play four games if 16 or fewer people attend, and five games if we have more than 16 players. We have only added the fifth game once before, quite some time ago, but ever since then, Mike S. gets excited each week thinking we might get to play five games again. Unfortunately, what seems to keep happening is that we get exactly 16 people. League Night #2 looked like it was going to be another close-but-no-cigar night until we had a late arrival from Sommer and Allyson. Between their return to the league and even more new players this week, we hit the magic number and got to play five games.
Speaking of new players, this week’s new additions were Kandus and Maddie. I didn’t get a chance to meet Maddie, but Kandus was in my group and told me she learned about the league through another new player, Gabe. She had initially been worried that she was not good enough to play in a league but Gabe assured her that we were a fun group. I hope she found that to be true! I fondly remember my first days in the league when my concerns that I would be too inexperienced to fit in were very quickly dispelled by the welcome that I got. I hope Kandus had a similar experience.
Also in my group was Matt, whose usual resolve against taking Secret Mania in Getaway — he insists it always ends in a drain — was tested and found lacking. When I see those three police cars, I always shriek “SECRET MANIA!” and hammer on the shift stick about 100 times to make sure the game gets the point. Matt, on the other hand, just shook his head with resignation as he slowly and methodically hit the shifter three times to start Secret Mania. “Enjoy your Secret Drainia,” said Aaron H., watching from an adjacent group. The words “Secret Drainia” made me laugh so hard I got weak and had to sit down. I don’t know why it tickled me quite so much. But Matt showed him: he not only finished his Secret Drainia without draining, but went on to start multiball and get a jackpot in the same ball. Later I saw Mike B. also choosing to go for Secret Mania. Someone in his group said “Secret Mania? How did you get that?!” Mike just said, “I can’t tell you; it’s a secret.”
Another typical moment of Lansing League silliness involved an argument between me and Aaron H. over whether heather is a bush. It started with a discussion of Tila Tequila and her belief that the world is flat. Aaron said that we shouldn’t be surprised, since her name after all is Tila Tequila, so she probably drinks a lot of it. I said, “I don’t think it works that way. I mean, I don’t spend all the time eating flowers off the moors.” Aaron didn’t catch my meaning so I explained that heather was a flower. He said he thought it was a bush. I said it was more of a low-growing, shrubby flower that covers the moors in carpets of purple. I believe I meant to say “scrubby” rather than “shrubby,” but that launched me and Aaron into a conversation about the difference, if any, between a bush and a shrub. And if this summary of a typical league conversation doesn’t make you want to come to the Lansing Pinball League, then you have a heart of stone and will never know joy.
After league Joseph, Sam, Jake, Mike, and I had our usual Theio’s after party. Everyone is welcome to come with us to these, so if you haven’t had the Theio’s experience yet, just ask one of us at the end of the next league night. Which, thanks to my now-habitual late posting schedule, is tonight! I hope I will see you there.