I had to take Hubba to a pediatric dentist the other day.
I followed standard procedure: signed in, filled out a stack of paperwork and signed my life away while Hubba happily explored the kid-friendly waiting area.
There were Legos. There was a large playhouse. There was a huge fish tank, complete with real-life Nemo. And around the corner... an arcade.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw one of my best-friends from middle school: Ms. Pacman.
Memories of the Steve's Burger joint behind my middle school flooded my mind. My friends and I would all chip in for the largest order of fries we could get, grab a booth, and take turns trying to beat the high score on Ms. Pacman.
I couldn't help myself - I checked the high score: 22,500.
That's it?! I thought to myself. I could beat that in like 6 rounds...
"Hey Hubba!" I called to him, "Look at this fun game!"
He walked over to where I was sitting. "Which one? The guy in the car one?"
"No!" I responded, priming the pump. "I mean this cool chomping all the dots game with ghosts and everything!"
"Them ghosts gots colors and that chomper gots a pink bow. That's a girl game. I'm a he, mom, not a she" Hubba said as he moved towards the Mario Brothers game.
My time was ticking away! I said a silent prayer for a long wait to see the dentist.
"You know what, Hubba? If you beat two levels, then the girl chomper with the bow meets a boy chomper and you get to see a little cartoon! Want to try?"
"OK, mom" he answered with an eye roll, stepping up to the controls.
"You want mom to help you?" I asked, innocently.
I stood behind him, joystick in hand. The old patterns started to come back to me... right, down, blinking dot, left, up, get the peach....
Before we knew it, I had beat level two. Child's play! I thought to myself as the animation of "They Meet" began.
"That was it?" Hubba asked. "Was that the cartoon?"
"Wasn't that awesome?!" I asked, a little too excited.
I continued to play, eating blinking blue ghosts left and right, foiling their plans for my capture when a little girl said to me, "That game is beautiful."
"Yeah." I responded, not wanting to lose my concentration.
"I am a girl, so I like pink. That is the pink game. It is beautiful. I want to play."
Where is this kid's mom? I thought. "I am a girl, too," I said, "so I like pink and I am playing right now." Go play with the Legos, kid! I thought to myself.
"Excuse me, but these games is for kids to play and I am a girl and I like pink so that is my game."
"Well, my boy likes this game, so he is playing...." I looked around. Where did Hubba go? Dang it! I checked my score: just over 20,000. I would have to stall for time.
"Why do you like the pink game?" I asked, chasing the banana.
"I am a girl, and it is my turn, lady." The kid was getting serious. There was no way I was going to let a 5-year-old take my turn and win my high score!
And then, "Hubba?" the nurse called.
From over by the Legos he yelled to me, "MOM! STOP PLAYING THE CHOMPY GIRL GAME AND COME HERE!"
The receptionists started. The little girl's mom gave me the evil eye. I gave them all my best fake-warm-smile and stepped away from the game.
Defeat. And as I walked toward Hubba to take him back to see the dentist, I heard the unmistakable sound of Ms. Pacman's death. (Wa-wa-wa-whump-whump!) Pretending to check on my car out the window, I quickly glanced at my score. Just 400 points away from victory! With a sigh, I left my middle school memories in the arcade and became a mother again.
But this isn't over.
I'll be back.