Fall2009

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Public At Large

Fiction

Happy Hour

By Elizabeth Futrell

Please tell me those girls are not seriously playing Candy Land."

"Uh... yeah. Margaret, I believe we are indeed in the presence of Candy Land. Huh."

"Christ, this is a bar, not Romper Room. I'm gonna need another drink."

"Uh, I'm thinking those girls are too young to even know what Romper Room is. They're pretty cute, though. Look, the one with the black hair just pulled out a lollipop. That's hot."

"You've got to be kidding me. This has got to be the most carefully staged cry for free drinks and attention I've ever seen."

"You're just jealous because they're having fun."

"Hey! We're having fun, aren't we?"

"Heh-heh-heh."

"Besides, Candy Land's not fun. Not for anyone over five. All you do is pick a card and move your pawn to the next space with that color. You do this for what feels like hours until someone finally "wins" due to luck of the draw. It's like playing War. I have cards in my purse. Wanna play War?"

"Nah, War is boring. And not nearly as sexy as Candy Land. See, look - it's working. Those dudes are totally buying them drinks."

"Well, well, well. And I love how they're feigning interest in the game, as if what these girls are doing is so novel and fascinating.

"In a way, it is novel. And fascinating."

"You're such a dude. Now playing Twister in a bar - that I could see. Twister takes actual skill and engagement. I played Twister in a bar once and won. It was awesome."

"Ah, the pot calling the kettle black. How is a group of chicks playing Twister at a bar different from two chicks playing Candy Land at a bar?"

"Hey - the Twister was sponsored by the bar! We won prizes and everything, because it takes skill to be good at Twister. Plus, Twister is fun."

"I think you're wrong about Candy Land. Those girls are having fun. And I think there's some skill involved there, too."

"You are so wrong! Those girls aren't having fun playing Candy Land; they're having fun drinking their free Effen Cherry Vodka sodas. And I'd love to know where skill comes into this game. Get out your iPhone and Google Candy Land. Read the rules. You'll see!"

"Ok, wait, wait. Candy Land... All right, I'm going to Wikipedia."

"Gimme that. Aha! 'There is no optimal strategy, or indeed any decision-making, involved in Candy Land. The moves are wholly determined by the cards, which are drawn in order. The only random chance element comes from each shuffling of the deck.' Ok, here we go: 'Skills required: Color recognition.' I guess you were right; there is a bit of skill involved in this clever game."

"Stop hating on Candy Land. You're starting to sound bitter. Admit it - those girls are pretty damn cute. And they have provided us with enough fodder for after-work-drink conversation that we have completely avoided bitching about our jobs like we usually end up doing for the first forty-five minutes of Happy Hour."

"I'm not bitter, I just think it's funny how the general public reacts to people and their actions based on physical appearance."

"Can I get you guys another drink?"

"Yeah, I'll have another Fat Tire, and, and she'll have an Effen Cherry Vodka soda, please."

"Ha. Thanks, Timiny."

"Uh, if you keep calling me Timiny, I'm gonna start calling you Marge. Anyway, you were saying, Margaret?"

"I was just saying, Timberly, that our social norms are riddled with double standards, and this little Happy Hour charade is a perfect example. We walk in, you see two good-looking girls in their early twenties playing Candy Land, and your first thought is, 'That's hot.' Random guys are buying them drinks and getting their phone numbers. I ask you, would anyone have bought them drinks if they were sitting there playing Scrabble or chess? No. The guys would have seen they were concentrating, if they noticed them at all, and left them alone."

"Ok, fine, but that's an obviously different scenario. Clearly those girls are not playing Candy Land for intellectual stimulation. They're playing it for attention. So what?"

"So nothing. It just drives me crazy that that shit actually works. Why in God's name is that attractive?"

"Because it's funny, Marge. And no guy minds watching a girl suck on a lollipop."

"Ok, let's play a little game. I'll name off some other potential Candy Land competitors, and you tell me what your first reaction would be to seeing them sitting on those bar stools playing Candy Land instead of Janet and Chrissy over there."

"Whatever you say."

"Ok, how about two girls the same age as those girls but each a good 100 pounds heavier?"

"I'd say they've probably had enough candy."

"What about two men playing Candy Land at a bar?"

"Pedophiles. Or, at the very least, creepy dudes who are up to no good."

"Two elderly men?"

"Senile. Or homeless. Or both."

"Two thirty-five year old women?"

"Freaky. Or pathetic. Or cougars. It would depend on their looks."

"At least you're honest. Good lord. Is a 30-year-old man seriously sitting here across from me calling a thirty-five-year-old woman a cougar?"

"Hey, Marge, the thirty-five-year old is fictional, remember? I'm just playing along and helping you illustrate your completely obvious point. Now please continue."

"How about a guy and girl in their late twenties?"

"What, like us? Are you saying you want to play next?"

"Come on, first reaction."

"Socially awkward girl and her gay best friend, both desperate for attention."

"An elderly man and woman?"

"Adorable. Oldsters are cute no matter what they're doing."

"Haha. They can definitely get away with things that most people can't. It's true, though, isn't it - first impressions are 99% based on physical appearance."

"I agree that we all judge each other initially based on looks. It's not fair, but it's nature, and we're animals. It's, like, instinctual. I remember reading an article about how that's why baby animals (and humans) are so cute—their looks serve as sort of a defense mechanism at a time when they are otherwise defenseless. It makes sense."

"What a productive happy hour. We've totally uncovered a fundamental truth about human nature."

"Uh, I think the fundamental truth is that no one - NO ONE - can or should get away with playing Candy Land in a bar. Ready to head out?"

"Yeah. What are you doing after this? I kinda feel like hitting the park for a bit. Wanna come?"

"Hell yeah."

Tim and Margaret pay their tab and stroll over to the neighborhood playground. Laughing wildly, they slide down the slide, flip themselves over the monkey bars, and swing on the swings, intimidating the nearby children and creeping out the small band of parents who stand guard watchfully on the periphery, shaking their heads and muttering in disapproval.

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