Imagine you are introverted. You are very introverted, and being in a crowd makes you feel incredibly lonely and bad about yourself. You’re in a large class at another school, and in this class you only talk to one person. There’s an upcoming field trip that you know very little about, and you try to take comfort in the fact that you will have at least one person to latch onto to keep you from drowning.
Then you find out that you will be in different groups, and that you’ll be alone on this trip. You get to sit with this knowledge for weeks before the actual trip, and each day your dread grows. You have enough stress in your life; you don’t need this.
The day finally comes, and the only way you’ll get through it is in a dumpy sweatshirt and a frown. You drive in the rain, listening to your GPS. You arrive and immediately feel overwhelmed. You haven’t been told exactly what to do, and therefore you are lost. You message your single friend in the class, whining about how alone you are because that’s the only way you know how to deal with these feelings.
Things change when you meet the gaze of someone in the class who you like. You’re not friends, but you sit near each other and have sparing friendly interactions. You ask her what you’re supposed to be doing. She has tokens, and you decide to play Tetris together. It’s fun. You love playing Tetris, even if it kicks your ass consistently. You laugh together about how difficult the game is, how the controls are even more cumbersome than usual, how fast the pieces are falling, the absurd starting blocks, and how you shouldn’t say the swears Tetris so rightly deserves because there are children in the arcade with you. She runs out of tokens, and you both step away from the Tetris machine. You go up to the counter to get more tokens, stand around awkwardly as you wait because you can’t think of anything else to say. You send a message to your friend saying that maybe this trip won’t be the worst night of your life.
You intend to follow your new companion to the next game she decides to play, but you get stopped and agree to play an NBA game with your professor’s son. This is fine. You enjoy the game much more than you thought you would. You lose, but only because he scores two last-minute three point shots. The game ends, and you realize that you’ve missed your chance to casually latch onto a classmate.
On your own, you head over to the X-Men game. You pop in a token and get to select a character. You are only able to select Cyclops, Colossus, or Wolverine even though Storm, Nightcrawler, and Dazzler are on the screen. Even though you’d much rather everyone in the second, unavailable row, you pick Colossus, who’s origin story involving drug addiction and his canon homosexuality interest you. The game itself is ridiculous. While there are sentinels and that’s one of your favorite Marvel storylines, there isn’t enough in the game itself to give you a story. It is punching and kicking and “mutant power”ing without real purpose.
Eventually, you have two tokens left. It’s almost the end of the two hour time slot, and you decide to go back to your abusive friend, Tetris. You spend your last two tokens in anger and frustration. You see that some of your classmates have seated themselves at a table nearby, and you go over and sit down, trying not to be weird but feeling weird anyway. You make some small talk, and it isn’t too bad. Mostly, though, you sit, listen, and wait for when your classmates who need rides are ready to go home.
You decide arcades are best left to extroverts and friends.