Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm A Button Pusher

When I was a young child in the late 70's, my family and I spent our vacations at a little resort in the Door County, Wisconsin, located in Wisconsin's upper-peninsula. Every morning after breakfast, my brothers and I routinely explored the resort's main lodge and often ended up parked at a 4-Player Bowling Alley arcade game while we waited for the day's activities to begin. Being only 6 years old, my older brothers would not waste a quarter on me to let me play. I was, however, allowed to push the buttons.

Somehow, I must have gotten it into my head that I was THE button pusher, for one evening, after dinner, while following my brothers out of the lodge, I spied four older gentlemen sitting down at the 4-Player Bowling Alley game. Surely, they would need me to push the button. Having been warned about "stranger danger", I was a little conflicted. Should I approach them? Wasn't it my JOB to approach them? Finally, realizing that I had a duty to fulfill, I crept up to the group, watched as they put their coins in and then I reached and pressed the button. The grumpy old men swiveled their heads around in unison and glared at me. One screamed "What the Sam Hill are you doing, you little snot?". Struck with the fear that I would be kidnapped by these men and sold off to work in a Siberian diamond mine, I ran off to catch up with my brothers. It turns out that the group of men included the owner of the resort, so my transgression was doubly bad. For the next few days, whenever I would pass one of those men in the lodge, they would inevitably say "There goes the boy who likes to push buttons".

Some thirty years later, I find that I still enjoy pushing buttons, although they tend to be of the mental sort. A friend visited me at work one morning a few days ago. Upon seeing my desk in a state of disarray, she attempted to clean it up for me. I stopped her. Wanting to test her need for cleanliness, I crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it on the ground. I asked her if she felt the need to pick it up. She turned away from it. I threw another paper wad. And another. I could almost feel her urge to pick them up gnawing at her. I threw down another crumpled ball of paper. This sort of button pushing may seem a bit immature or childish, but I find that I do it in order to test certain limits. I'm always on the lookout for someone to blow up at me like those grumpy old men at the arcade game. Whatever the reaction from people, good, bad, indifferent, it's still valid to refer to me as "the boy who likes to push buttons".

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