Saturday was hot and humid and hot and muggy and humid and hot, hot, hot. I am not ready for summer. The bus to Barra took over a half an hour to arrive, and it was already full when I flagged it down. That meant an hour of trying to stand, being squished by fat ladies who misjudged the space their bodies would take up and thought that me, my bones, and a metal pole would somehow all seamlessly mesh together to provide a clear path for them to scurry through...an hour of men averting their eyes so they didn't have to feel guilty for not giving up their seat to the standing women. The Barra bus from this side of town goes over the mountains, which means switchbacks and speed...turning a R$2.40 ride into a very cheap rollercoaster ticket. And gym, all in one. Because my arms certainly got a workout from trying to keep the rest of my body upright!
Battered, bruised and with wobbly sea-legs, I arrived at the New York City Center, complete with a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a TGI Fridays, and an Outback Steakhouse. Barra is like a tribute to Miami. (I've never been there, actually, but it's the vision I have...either Miami or an apocalyptic waste town...) It is consumption heaven. The WMF people were meeting there to celebrate Rich's birthday with a trip to the arcade. This may sound slightly odd, but please keep in mind:
1. It is hot. The mall is air-conditioned.
2. This is THE most high tech arcade you have ever been to.
Welcome to The HOT ZONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not, it's not a porno palace. The Hot Zone has various games, flat screen televisions, monster truck rides, things that fly you up and around like some sort of amusement part contraption, shooting games (18 and older but yay! I wasn't carded), dance-dance marathon thingies, old-school pinball, basketball hoops, slot machines, air hockey, and a couple of padded chairs for the worn out and weary. There were Indy 500 cars and Nascar games, dirt bikes and Harley Davidson's, and something that looked like virtual reality.
I've already visited this place once before. My favorite section is...
Don't tell my father.
I'm mostly non-violent, but, well, I LOVE first-person shooter games. Even more if the gun is heavy and pink and lets me do a little re-loading action. And if I'm killing zombies that spurt green blood when they die and don't get to imbed their knives into my face...
Good news, zombies of the world: I'm also a TERRIBLE shot. So you have nothing to fear, other than my enthusiasm!
Last night, I also raced an 18-wheeler down Route 66, in a ridiculous first attempt that ended in about 45 seconds. I do not know how to drive stick. Pretending doesn't help matters. And I don't know how to break around a curve with a weighted trailed behind me...and so I wasted a good 2 reis on a game that just made me feel bad about my driving skills....
Next up was a jocky race with Ben, on two "horses" missing their ears, legs, and pretty much any horse-like identifying features, other than a saddle and a bridle, a vaguely horse shaped head that turned to the right and to the left, and two horsebeating whip buttons. Animal rights activists would NOT like this game. Neither did I, but for other reasons.
I realized only too late that this game involved excessive amounts of physical exertion. I was not only directing the horse down the racetrack. I was supposed to actually RIDE the thing. This involved arm pumping, head turning, and lower body movement that wasn't exactly appropriate for public spaces and small children. At first, it was humorous, but then my arms started to feel the burn...and I noticed the many pairs of eyes watching...and let my milllion dollar purse and the first place title go to a computer jockey who wasn't embarassing herself by bouncing her butt up and down on a plastic horse in the middle of a crowd of strangers...
Ben and his superior stamina beat me at the jockey game, but it left us both with ravenous hunger. So much so, that while we were all deciding what to order at the food court and searching for free tables, Ben and C- sat down at an previously occupied table and began snarfing down the quarter of a slice of pizza that was lying uneaten on the plate...
I think we were a bit disruptive... =)
But it was certainly a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. Automatic weapons, fast cars, pizza (both fresh and recycled), and lots of friends....who could ask for more? Happy Birthday, Rich!