I have to be careful with how many games I get and keep. There are only so many times you can rearrange things to sneak that one additional box in. Each game I get must have a purpose, a genre or mechanic I’m missing, or perhaps one that my wife or Game Night crowd will play. Still there are games that rarely get to the table, but I’m unlikely to ever get rid of. Ones such as Aliyah, which is basically Jewish Trivial Pursuit, that we sometimes broke out to take a break from card games at my grandmother’s house. Diplomacy, which I’m usually short of playing by about 6 willing players, but I’ve not quite given up hope. Then there is the only monopoly I own: Toys’R’Us: Times Square Edition. Why this version of this maligned game? Well…
It was the summer before my junior year of college when I first invited my then girlfriend to visit my home in New York for the first time. She arrived on her first flight ever, 25 minutes early, a thing that I didn’t even know was possible at the time*.
*Still don’t really. What is this early of which you speak?
New York City proved to be overwhelming for the girl who grew-up surrounded by cornfields. I eagerly showed her what I loved about New York, which also could be paid for by a broke college student, but had limited success. Pizza and bagels were just pizza and bagels. A Broadway show of Into the Woods resulted in money flying out of my hands faster than it ever had before, but to her it was, “meh.” Plus having a girlfriend over was a new thing for me, and my family didn’t quite know how to deal with it, which led to some awkwardness and unpleasantries.
The 2nd day we spent in the city we ventured into Times Square. Filled with lights, people, and phrenic activity, she was anxiety ridden, overheated and becoming miserable. I was frustrated by my inability to impress… And then, walking down the sidewalk, I realized she wasn’t next to me, and turned around to look for her. I remember thinking, “wait, why is she stopped with an awestruck expression?” I don’t remember what I asked next, but it doesn’t really matter as there is no question with an expected answer of “There is a Ferris Wheel! In a toy store!” I stood there baffled, as she repeated the proclamation, or at least the words of it she could stumble out, with the wide-eyed wonder of a child who had seen their favorite character in real life for the first time.
In front of us was the flagship Toys’R’Us, a 5 story building with a Ferris Wheel inside. At the very front of the store, all the floors were cut-out, creating a soaring ceiling. This multi-leveled opening allowed the large, elaborate Ferris Wheel to rein as focal point. Each car had a different theme: M&M’s, Cabbage Patch Kids, Geoffrey, Toy Story and many more famous toys all had their own cars.
We ventured into the store, by way of a foot path, which formed a little bridge over the open area where the Ferris Wheel presided. We explored, finding a Candy Land themed candy section, a slushie machine on the tiny top floor, and giant lego sculptures, while she alternated between saying, “wow” and “how cool is that.” I insisted we ride the Ferris Wheel, because really, I was awed but mildly irritated that all it really took to entertain her was a $3 carnival ride.
In the fourteen years since, we have ventured back into that store several time on subsequent trips, a refuge from the big angry city. On one of those trips I picked up the monopoly game to give as a present.
Sadly, Toys’R’Us has now closed that location for good, taking our special spot with it. No one else will get to be amazed by the sight of a Ferris Wheel in a toy store. Still, we have our memories and a monopoly game with its own mini Ferris Wheel. And you never quite know when we will stumble across something new that gives my wife that sense of wonder and leaves me utterly confused.