Gather round, men, for tonight I shall finish my mission of vengeance against this cruel machine that mocks my attempts to understand the ways of the Almighty! My life’s goal is finally within my grasp, and soon I shall snare that SpongeBob SquarePants plush toy and spite the malignant force that prevents me from being fulfilled in life! I merely need a bit more time. And more quarters.

This is not an obsession, for obsession implies a lack of reason. This is a quest to assert man’s dominance over the mechanized world! I have been studying this game for what feels like a lifetime, learning its ways. The feel of the joystick. The proper amount of pressure to exert. This claw is now an extension of both my hand and my will to succeed. And once I capture my prey, it will justify the hours of my life and the hundreds of dollars in quarters I have spent on this game. All my means are sane. My motive and object mad.

I offer this doubloon, a token, for the first man who brings me a snack! Despite my emotional endurance, my legs are a bit wobbly. I sent Queequeg out for more quarters and a Long Island Iced Tea, yet the harpooner merely grunted and headed off to the ring toss game. That was two long hours ago.

My mates have left my side, doubting my sanity. Well, to hell with my blasphemous crew, who insist that tonight is merely about fun and camaraderie! Oh, I’m the one who’s miserable company, Mr. Stubb? I’m turning this night into an insufferable hellscape? Or am I the only one of us who understands the true importance of this game of skill? Enjoy your mai tais and racking up easy tickets at Skee-Ball, you heretics. I’ll be busy etching my place in the realm of the immortals.

Look at it: the unconquerable SpongeBob taunts me from within that cage. Speak to me, thou vast and adorable plush toy! Tell me what secret thing lies within thee. Perhaps you squeak. Perhaps you say, “I’m ready,” when I squeeze you. I won’t know until I have you firmly in my hands.

Years ago, this very same claw machine took days of my life from me. And when I finally captured my prize, the toy snagged, and I nearly lost my hand in the slot trying to reach inside and grab it. Then the cursed employee refused to pry open the machine as, apparently, that was not in his job description, but he could offer me a drink ticket. Heaven help thee, Todd, if you attempt to get in my way again tonight!

Bah! Thou saw’st how close I was! I had it in my clutches just now! Some sort of demon must’ve knocked it loose on the way up! This game is rigged. Much like that Rubik’s cube, clearly unsolvable due to a manufacturer error. Or that one trivia night when I knew the other team was cheating, but Ishmael insisted that I calm down and stop making a scene. It’s all part of the same theological con game that keeps us in perpetual servitude to our unseen masters!

Begone, foul child! I shall cede this machine to you after I have captured my prize and made known the unknowable. Enough of your immature distractions! Back to your parents! Leave me here so I can focus on my Jeremiad of jolliness. Leave me entirely alone.

… Although, perhaps my crew is right. I might be building this machine into something that it isn’t. I am investing too much into this game, all for the sake of a perceived “win,” an external way of quelling the internal storm. Perhaps it’s time to avoid obsessive pursuits that leave behind a destructive wake of fury. Dave & Buster’s should not be an altar to human madness, but rather a temple of amity and boneless wings and Dance Dance Revolu—

Wait! I snagged it! SpongeBob’s leg is in the claw! I have it. This fight shall at last come to an end. FROM HELL’S HEART, I STAB AT THEE!

… No. SpongeBob fell at the last second, and instead, the claw grabbed a Hannah Montana glitter watch. Perhaps this is close enough? Could this glistening watch be my true prize?

Never! Mr. Starbuck! Get away from the Luigi’s Mansion console and bring me more quarters!