The Pyramid Scheme opened for pinball-players about noon, for a contest starting about 1, which is well before the bar's normal opening hour of 4. We weren't sure the public would be allowed in, or even if I'd be allowed in on the grounds that an alternate alternate might possibly be needed if someone inside were rushed to the hospital, and someone else burst into flame. Well, they recognized us outside the door and let us in, leaving the question of whether the public could just hang out and watch before 4 pm surprisingly ambiguous.
While we played a couple games before the tournament began and touched nothing afterwards, mostly, we had time to hang out and watch people. Since it was a bar we ordered some stuff to drink, mostly sodas. They charged me for the first refill of Diet Coke, which felt offensively petty since I'm used to the standard at our local hipster bar where they'll refill soda all day. I was hasty in taking this as a slight. Later in the day we went back for soda and coffee and they didn't charge for either, though bunny_hugger noted that might be because they only had two-thirds of a cup of coffee left and they were fine just getting rid of the remaining stuff. Later on yet, to avoid feeling like we were freeloading when we were just sitting at a table --- they were very crowded by then, because Grand Rapids Bar on a Saturday night --- she ordered a soda and they gave it free, making us feel more like freeloaders.
One possible explanation: it turns out that pinball is crazy profitable for them. Like, thousands of dollars per week for, I believe, each table. And the tables aren't outrageously priced; nearly every game is 50 cents, except for The Wizard of Oz, at 75. Plainly, soda serves as a good loss-leader to get people hanging out playing pinball. And it's true; in the time we spent hanging out there (and a little bit across the way) I managed to spend not only all the change in my pockets but also convert all my singles, fives, and tens into either soft drinks or pinball games. And I didn't even notice that happening.
Great thing about the pinball machines is they have cupholders on at least one side of every table, sometimes both. Down side is the tables have that strange wobbly nature that free-standing tables have. At one point bunny_hugger was sitting and turned to look at something else, and --- I'm still not clear how --- the soda that MWS had and which was near her tipped over and shattered, creating a mess which left us feeling humiliated. I still don't know how it fell over, and, since it fell from sitting on the table to fallen over on the table, how it could possibly have shattered. Worse, it happened while the bartender was outside having a smoke so he had to come in off break and make us feel the more guilty. And I know what you're thinking, but no, this came after I'd gotten that first refill.
Trivia: Thomas Dewey travelled more than 20,000 miles across the United States in his presidential campaign in 1944. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.
Currently Reading: Arming America: The Origins Of A National Gun Culture, Michael A Bellesiles.