By Andrew Gilstrap
March 24, 2011: The eve of my wedding. I finally had all my troops gathered together. After the wedding rehearsal dinner at Cafe Aroma in Anthem, I had just a few hours with my groomsmen to celebrate my last night as a single man. Four of my six groomsmen had to come from out of town — and two from out of state — to participate in my wedding. Three of them arrived in town the day before the Mar. 25th ceremony. Up against those restraints, a Hollywood/Vegas-styled bachelor party was impossible. That’s not even my style anyway.
Even when all of them had finally convened, we made somewhat of a last-minute decision on how to celebrate before the wedding. We finally decided to play it simple: Dave & Buster’s. We caravanned the 20-minute drive to Dave & Buster’s at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Scottsdale. I’d gone to this place since it was known as Jillian’s back in the early 2000s. I had never gone with this big of a group before, being that my dad had also called up a few of his thrill-seeking neighbors, and they showed up, adding to our numbers.
I’ll try to make a long night short since most of the time we all did our own things, playing different video games at our whim. Where we all seemed to come together, on a couple of different occasions, were the arcade basketball challenges. Admittedly, this groom here was the star of showdowns, and I finally had a big audience to which I could show off my expertise. Dave & Buster’s has both the NBA regulation-size and the seven-foot tall arcade systems, but we generally stuck to the seven-foot, moving basket machines; this Dave & Buster’s has six of them, and they can link together when more than one person is playing. (This is the type of machine I will likely reference most often when reporting on future Pop-A-Shot endeavors.)
From this night, I recall one round with the boys where we were all shooting particularly well, and, since more than one of us did well, it elicited extra time for everybody. (I will talk more about this phenomenon in future ‘Techniques’ posts.) With all the extra time, I scored a 97 that game, which I believe is the highest I’ve ever shot on this style of machine. My dad’s neighbor who was shooting next to me started scouting out athletic-looking strangers and seeing if they wanted to go up against me; they wanted none of it. Even with my 97, I did not get the high score of the evening: Dave & Buster’s posts it above all the basketball machines, and somebody had shot above 110 that day. Crazy.
After we all had conquered the arcade world, we went down to the first floor and bowled a few games: Yeah, D&B’s has that. Some of my dad’s neighbors watched the first games and left early, but the groomsmen stuck by my side. I think they conceded letting me get the high score in this area too. It was also nice that they picked up my tabs on drinks and games all night.
The overall night was a reported success. We didn’t have to get into anything provocative to unanimously have a blast. Whether it was my dad and his neighbor buddies — all in their 40s and 50s — or my groomsmen with ages ranging from 17 to 37, Dave & Buster’s seemed to bring out the kids in all of us if just for a night — the night before I would make the ultimate lifelong commitment.