(l) David Kramer; (r) Audrey Boyce. National Museum of Play (formerly the Strong Museum of Play), Rochester, NY, 11/21/18. [Photos: Leslie Kramer]
In High School, in our basement, my friends and I played thousands of hours of foosball on an attractive, imported Italian set. Over time, I developed an over weaning hubris that I could defeat all comers.
One Saturday, my father and I signed up for the New York State Foosball Open at Monroe Community College. The first harbinger of the afternoon came when our opponents carefully unpacked and wore expensive black gloves designed for better hand-rod traction.When the first ball was dropped I “spinned:” my rod completing a 360 degree rotation without touching the ball. In our basement, spinning was allowed. Not so in tournaments — firmly announced by our opponents — where spinning is deemed an illegal move.
If we scored one goal in our two successive losses, it was charity on behalf of the gloved, non-spinners. Traumatized, I gave up foosball. At some point, the attractive Italian set was given to a recently immigrated Turkish family with young children.
So, it was with trepidation that I joined my sister Leslie and her daughter Audrey — visiting from California — for an afternoon of foosball and air hockey.
First, we retrieved leftover Museum tokens from their last visit. The tokens were kept in Grandma Anya’s “found money” purse.
As Anya traversed the streets of Manhattan in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50, 60s and 70s, every time she found a coin, she placed it in the purse. Upon her death, the purse was bulging with Roosevelt dimes and wheat pennies.
Anya never spent one of the coins. They were kept for good luck and, given her charmed life as an actress on the Yiddish Stage in Moscow, USSR during the Revolution who in retirement ran an import shop on Main Street in Rochester, NY, the purse worked its magic.
The matches were not without controversy. As seen in the photo with the red defenders upside down, Leslie appears to have “spun.” When interviewed Leslie denied any culpability, declaring that photographs can be misleading, “fake news.”
At one point, Audrey did score a goal against my red men.Announcing I could beat Audey with eyes closed, I did, exorcising those demons from the New York State Foosball Open. I knew that in air hockey Audrey is a virtuoso. To counterbalance her skills, I developed some unorthodox strategies.
Leslie was suspicious and dowloaded the “official” rules of air hockey from her phone. The Museum itself has no posted regulations.
According to Air Hockey Rules For Amateurs: Simplified Guidelines For A Better Game , Leslie claims I commited two misdemeanors:
Leslie grimaced when I whacked the puck over the center line’s plastic shield directly at her. Supposedly, such was another infraction.SOUNDS OF THE GAME
NOTE: As seen in Not Earl Lloyd. But a painting of Dolly King, the first African-American Rochester Royal, at the Edgerton-R Center’s beautiful mural, in 2016 I did make a brief foosball comeback at the Edgerton-R Center.NOTE: As for PONG, I don’t consider directing ones box/racquet across the service line to be unlawful. SEE ALSO Monopoly at the Strong Museum. And the world’s shortest Monopoly game.