Musings About Malcolm #3 – ARCADE FIRE!

July 4th. Movies, Finding Dory.

Malcolm likes movies, especially the animated ones. We thought this would be a sure thing.

Walk into the theatre, sit down, and let the magic begin. It’s like a giant television in front of you with a cartoon on it.

Didn’t work. Previews did not go smoothly, except the one for the new Ice Age movie. Scrat does it every time. Then the one for Pete’s Dragon came on and the anxiety built up.

“Potty!” Malcolm yells. “Potty!”

But he had just gone right before like a fraternity brother at a keg party with no trees around who just found a bathroom after an hour of searching while still guzzling.

Finally, the movie starts. There’s Dory. There’s animation. There’s Ellen DeGeneres’s voice get ready to say, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming….”

Malcolm says, “Potty. Potty.” He just keeps saying “Potty.”

We ain’t staying in the theatre. At least I am not. The ladies stay in their seats. Men go to the men’s room. I will take him to the bathroom and then we will come back ready to watch Disney.

But as soon as Malcolm hits the hallway, he takes off. Laughing. A quick left into the main lobby he then proceeds to run into a shrine reminiscent of my youth in the small town of Greensboro, GA. That’s right – the ARCADE!

Lights. Sounds. Movement. Voices. A tractor beam for quarters and young kids alike.

Before you know it we have a red head on the motorcycle / snowmobile seat on some interactive watchamacallit shifting back and forth as if time and space meant nothing and could simply be put on hold.


One of the things about Malcolm is that he truly lives for the moment, the moment however he defines it. There was no begging for quarters or tokens or screaming to have buttons pushed. He was already in a zone. His imagination took a hold and he was going with it.

In the moment.

Another facet about Malcolm is that he lets you know exactly where you stand with him right then and there. No guesswork. No cover up. Especially when it comes to women, because Malcolm is a genetically enhanced womanizer.

Two young girls are playing a game in the middle of the arcade that captures Malcolm’s attention and draws me straight back to the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Air Hockey. Take a look at that beauty.


No buttons, just kinetic slapping of a puck over an easy breeze. We were hooked.

I had two bucks and we played two games, but the rules were different for Malcolm than for other people. See, in his head it really isn’t about who scores the most points, it’s about cheering when someone scores a goal.

He would hit it in my goal, “Score!” He would take his hand, grab the puck, and throw it into his own goal, “Score!”   Who cares? Just clap dammit!

Well, Malcolm gets to scoring too many own goals that I have to start making him switch sides so that the “first to seven” rule doesn’t shut down the game.

Then sometimes he would actually hit a shot by me, totally fake me out. “Score!” Then he would say, “DaddyStu! Clap!” Yep, he calls me by my title – “Daddy” – and by my name – “Stu” – at one time. Why? Because he knows that I will answer to both.

Please remember that Finding Dory is still being enjoyed by the other members of the Redhead Brigade. That’s fine – we rule the arcade.

Well, we spent two whole dollars on air hockey. Great fun, but it has to come to an end. I don’t have any more cash on me. I am a public school teacher. But it did get about 20 minutes of the movie out of the way because I knew that we were not ever leaving the arcade until Finding Dory was over.

I then look at the other games in the arcade, reliving the prime of my youth in rural Georgia. Then I hear “Score! Clap!”

Yep, he’s done it again. Some lady took a liking to him and he smiled that smile and said something cute and she bought him a game on the air hockey table. Actually more than one game.

“Score!” “What’s his name?” “Malcolm, but ma’am, you don’t have to….” “Oh, he’s just so cute!” “Yea, I know, but….” “Score!”

For the next thirty minutes, she was caught in the web of Malcolm.

You know those basketball shooting stations where you shoot a basketball into an incredibly small hoop and try and get more points than you did the last time? Yep, he found another young lady who let him play with her.

On her dime.

Rather on her quarter. Quarters. Another 30 minutes goes by.

And then all of a sudden there was my wife and daughter. The movie was over.

Malcolm had successfully hustled probably about ten dollars’ worth of games with a fake full bladder and the very thing he has that I know I don’t have or ever did.

That Malcolm thing.

He fought like hell to keep from having leave the cinema. He even ran back to the door after we left the physical building and tried to open it again.


That is until he realized that it wouldn’t open because it was the exit door. Reminded me of that Far Side cartoon – you know the one that…


Malcolm did finally realize that it wouldn’t open and instead of saying, “F#$%!” or “Sh#$!” he simply goes with what has worked before and looks at me very innocent like and politefully says,