Skeeball for adults ... OK, it's just skeeball

On Nightlife

March 30, 2006|By SAM SESSA

No matter how much you think you've grown up, it only takes nine balls to unlock your inner child.

On a recent trip to the new Dave and Buster's in Arundel Mills mall, we realized just how much we missed the simple game of skeeball. With so many other options (Dave and Buster's has pool tables, a bowling alley and a host of fancy new arcade games), we spent most of our time and money at the skeeball lanes.

The best part about Dave and Buster's is you can drink while you play. It's a killer setup if you don't mind the crowd. This Dave and Buster's, one of two in the state, opened in November where Jillian's used to be. The other is in Bethesda.

My buddy Evan, my girlfriend and I arrived at 9:40 Friday night and paid the cover charge. After 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, Dave and Buster's charges $5, which they transfer onto a card. You can swipe the card to play just about every game the place offers. When the $5 runs out -- which it quickly does -- you can put more money on your card and get back to gaming. It's easier than using tokens, but you might miss having a pile of coins clink around in your pocket.

First, we headed for the dining and billiards section to fill up on nachos, a turkey club sandwich, beer and wine. After dinner, we grabbed our giant 25-ounce glass mugs and strolled out into the main arcade. Showtime.

Skeeball (what else?) topped our list of games to play. Send a ball down the ramp, and it's like 10 or more years roll away with it. We thought of hot Ocean City summers, Chuck E. Cheese's and begging our parents for more quarters to feed the machines. Since our earliest memories of dropping in coins and hearing the balls thunder down the chute, nothing has really changed. The only difference is our hands wrap around the ball a little better.

We blew five bucks in no time. We refilled our cards and tackled some other games, like boat racing and the impossibly hard drop-the-claw-and-snag-a-stuffed-animal game. We thought about playing pool, but by 11 p.m., all of the tables were taken, and the waiting list was two hours long, so we gave up and doubled back for more skeeball.

The night's only downside was the crowd. At best, they were intimidating, and at worst, they were downright trashy. Late in the night, we saw one woman dragging a toddler by the arm while cussing and joking with her friends.

A little past midnight, we tallied up our tickets and made for the gift shop. Our night of skeeball and a couple other games netted about 500 tickets, which we spent on Dave and Buster's shot glasses and candy. It was good plunder, considering we would have played for fun anyway. We went there with an itch for skeeball, scratched it all night and left grinning like little kids.

Dave and Buster's is in Suite D-1 of Arundel Mills mall, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle in Hanover. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 11:30 a.m.-midnight Sundays. For more information, call 443-755-0113 or visit daveandbusters.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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