What We Did on Your Vacation

One of the nicest things we did
was play Pac-Man.
You took bills in wonderment
to the bar. I heard you tell
the bartender we’ve been married
twenty-nine years and you never thought
you’d see the day but you guess
five dollars worth of quarters
are in order. Actually,
it’s only twenty-seven, but numbers
are your business, and this
is your vacation.
Isn’t this the ritz?
A strange town on the way,
a dark bar and our own table
with Pac-Man under glass.
Two martinis, straight up,
one Beefeater, one Tanquerav,
that deep pleasure to be found
in marginal differentiation,
and we’re all alone; no teenagers
crowding our shoulders,
hungry for us to run out of change.
Puzzled, you ask again,
Do you really want to do this?
All I can think to say is,
My friend Mollie shoots pool.
But the answer’s yes,
and for the next half hour
monsters chase our little men
and disintegrate them all.
At each instant it seems
mastery is just coming:
still, we make no score greater
than two thousand. The game itself
taunts us: two people at this table
have made two hundred times that.
Marian Diamond who studies brains
says they can keep developing
throughout life. She says
she eats an egg a day and drinks
lots of milk. She doesn’t say
it’s better to have a keen mind
and die of clogged arteries
than be senile with great tubing,
but we know what she means;
this object of new beauty glows
between us in the dark.
If we sat here a million years, love,
eating eggs and drinking gin,
we might get good at this. We’d win
Our little man would eat up
those monsters and all the dots
before their colors changed,
before they changed their spots.
—Alice Wirth Gray