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7 versus L

we had a great time at coney island on friday. totonno’s pizza was excellent, the cyclone roller coaster was awesome, the baseball game was fun and the cyclones won, we split a yummy grilled burger during the game and a pistachio soft serve ice cream afterwards.

everything was perfect.

except for getting ripped off at the pick-up-a-duck stand.

i don’t like carnival games, for the most part. i don’t like shooting things, and i don’t like being goaded and harassed, and the whole thing is a lot of bother for not much reward. so i generally don’t play the games.

except for pick-up-a-duck.

the way i figure it, this game is completely non-confrontational, you compete against no one, you are always a winner, and it requires absolutely no skill. you pick up a duck and you get your prize.

small (s), medium (m) or large (l). at least that’s what they write on the bottom of the ducks. and as they float by, you pluck one and the attendant turns it over and you see what size prize you won. or sometimes, as they did here, they give you a little net to scoop them with. with that, you need a minimum of skill, but not much.

so every time there are carnival games, i do one round of pick-up-a-duck. kirk always shoots the clown in the mouth with the water gun and races everyone to be the first to blow up the balloon, which i think is completely idiotic, but whatever.

so i was standing with my scooper net and all the ducks were floating by and this one duck spoke to me. well, not literally. but this duck stood out and i focused on it like a laser beam. it was as if there were no other floating ducks. so i trusted my instincts and scooped it.

the attendant plucked it from the net, turned it over and said “seven. you get a small prize.”

now i was having fun, and not thinking about it too much, so i picked a small stuffed purple fish and went on my way. about ten feet away, though, it struck me.

it wasn’t a 7; it was an L. turn the duck upside down in your mind. invert that 7. what do you get?

a large fucking prize, that’s what you get.

so i started thinking about it. one, i didn’t want a large prize to schlep around all day and then take home to give to goodwill later. and two, we were having fun, and kirk kind of hates it when i get confrontational about small stuff, like when i say “that can of beans is 55 cents, not 59 cents” to the cashier at the grocery store. and three, i had walked away anyway. and four, there weren’t any small kids around to give the prize to, which i might have done if i had gotten a large prize and if i had thought of it and if there was a small kid around.

so i didn’t say anything, until later, when i talked to kirk about it. and he agreed it was a lousy thing for the attendant to do.

now, of course, i’m kind of tortured about what i did and what i should have done. if a small kid had plucked the L, would the attendant have gypped him/her too? should i have gone back and said something, just to let the attendant know i was on to her? if i had, would it have mattered to the next little kid that came along and won a large prize?

carnival games are just the entire workings of the world in miniature.

i don’t think i’m going to pick up any more ducks.

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