Monday, September 24, 2007

Claw Machine

There's a restaurant in my parents' town that has one of those good for nothin' claw machines.

You know what I'm talking about. They're in movie theaters, arcades and some restaurants for children (ha!) to try to win a cheap stuffed animal by grabbing it with a four-pronged stainless steel contraption.

All in 20 seconds or less.

And my two little nephews William and Alex always insist on throwing away money want to play with the "claw toy" whenever we go to this restaurant.

As much as I want to say, "Children, the claws are made of a smooth metal which makes the surface quite slippery. Additionally, the managers who operate these machines often pack the animals tightly so that if a perfect claw drop achieves a good grip point on an object, it will easily slide off. Also, some people believe these managers grease the claws to make the toys slide off"... there is really little to be gained in attempting to explain this to two toddlers intent on playing.

So, as most aunties probably would, I always humor them and allow them to lose try to win.

Last night was no exception. William went first. I tried to help him out as best I could with the controller while my husband shouted instructions from the side of the machine. "To the left! No, go right just an inch!"

But as soon as I got a good position on the claw and pressed the release button to go for a stuffed animal, he got too excited and jerked the controller.

Buzz, went the machine. No luck.

Then it was Alex's turn. Again, my husband was the coach as I tried to get the claw in the perfect position before I told Alex to press the release button.

Of course, given that he is only two and doesn't exactly understand claw machine technique, before I had given him the green light, Alex had pressed the button and the claw was on its way down.

But lo and behold, on the way back up the claw was holding on (albeit very loosely) to a purple stuffed bear.

As the claw made its way back to its starting position, it jerked and swayed violently back and forth. I was sure it would drop the bear back into the mountain of cheap toys.

We all held our breath. And to our collective surprise, the claw made it back with the bear in tow.

My husband and I slapped each other high-five, so excited that we had done it. We had won a toy from the claw machine!

Alex jumped with elation, his eyes wide and joyful. "BEAR!" he screamed as I gave him his new toy.

Then I turned to William. There was no joy in his expression. He turned to Alex, who was gazing at his purple bear as if it were gold, and grabbed it from his grip.

"Alex, that belongs to me."

Oh boy.

As they stood there, arguing in toddler talk as to who was the rightful owner of the 10-cent bear that I had just given blood, sweat and $1.00 to win, I wondered...

Is it better to have won a toy from a claw machine and lost it, or to never have won at all?

- Jane


Velma said...

Yes, we know well the perils of the "skill crane" around here. I never seem to have any change in my purse when there is one around...

sandy shoes said...

That's a no-brainer for me: "never to have won it at all."

I won't go near those infernal machines, and if nobody did, they wouldn't make any money, and if they didn't make any money, they would go away, and then little birdies of happiness would chirp throughout the universe. Or something. With my luck, they'd be impossibly cheerful music teachers singing that damn caw caw song ;).

But in the meantime, there will be no claw-machine-induced whine fests in my life. I just can't take it.

Whirlwind said...

As a kid, I used to win at them all the time. I think they've changed them since then though.

I try and keep my kids away from them and they never ask.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yeah, that is one of those machines where I say, "oops! all out of money today!" But, you are Auntie and are allowed such indulgences, much like grandparents are allowed to sneak lollipops in before dinner. I'm sure I'll do the same with my niece and nephew when they are older.

Tricia said...

That IS the question, isn't it? :)

Pinks & Blues Girls said...

OK... as a grandma, I find myself saving quarters for these insidious gulpers of spare coins.

But hey, I didn't fall prey with my OWN children. Does this count?

Sharon - Pinks & Blues Girls

Mrs. Chicky said...

I say "no claw", but I'm not an aunt yet. My mind will probably change then.

Binky said...

Ha! Well, what's that other saying? "All's fair in the claw game and war..."