Allow me to introduce you to something that you’re probably long familiar with. It’s a little internet sensation/short video entitled “Caine’s Arcade.” If you’ve already seen it (which you probably have), feel free to skip ahead or enjoy the video all over again. (Or, whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you.)
If you haven’t seen it, get ready to have your mind blown. Literally.
I know, right? Seriously. I told you your mind would be blown. You were laughing, you were crying, if you were sitting next to someone you probably snuggled up closer to them on the couch. The little calculators? The way he freaking says “calculators”? Pure freakin’ gold.
It’s not just you and me, either. People all over the “world wide web” are eating this thing up like it’s a delicious cakepop. The video has, like, a gazillion hits or something. What’s more, you can now donate to a college fund for little Caine, as well as to the Caine’s Arcade Foundation, which is all about fostering kids’ creativity. Guess how much has been raised? You’ll never guess.
As of this writing: $193,319.06! That’s a big number. I tried to write it out and my brain got confused and started smelling like burnt rubber: that’s how big that number is.
I am currently (and happily) obsessed with this short film, this project, this boy. I’ve shown the video to my husband, my friends, my students, and all of them responded the same way: with pure, glittery awe. I work with middle school kids, people: getting them to glitter with awe is like pulling teeth, never mind ten minutes of sustained silence. I showed the film to my coworker, who has a heart like a steel trap, and even he was laughing and clapping like it was opening night at the circus. You’ve seen it, so you know: there is something wholly magical about the whole thing— sweet, inventive, persistent Caine; charming and (not gonna lie) totally hot Nirvan; a wild and enthusiastic flashmob; thousands and thousands and thousands of people, just like you and me, going “Sure, I’ll give the kid a buck. Why not?” Also, a half-ton of cardboard. Who doesn’t love cardboard?
We can all agree that the whole thing makes us bubbly with joy, but I keep wondering: Why does it make us bubbly with joy?
I suspect it starts somewhere here: Remember when you were a kid and you did all kinds of crazy and wacky things? Like that time you and your friends discovered an old treasure map in the attic, and then found the treasure and rescued your town from the threat of big-housing developers? Or the time the babysitter died and you created your own fashion line and, thereby, somehow managed to save the day? Or that time you were on a hockey team named The Mighty Ducks? Granted those examples are culled from (fantastic) flicks, but still, you get the idea. Childhood is all about magic and ingenuity and wonder. It’s all about taking the bull by the horns and screaming “Tag, bull! You’re it!” It’s about tearing around and ripping through shit and reinventing the entirety of the universe so that it conforms to your imagination, your understanding of how things should work. We ate Otter Pops till our tongues corroded, filmed our own cowboy flicks, built our own backyard fort (out of cardboard, no less) and played in that sucker even after it became infested with slugs. We had our own rock band named “The Kiss Marks”, for criminy’s sake— our number one top single was a rip-off of the Duck Tales cartoon theme song. Yeah, our parents got divorced. Sure, we developed anxieties like cancer in the jaw. Sometimes it felt like the whole world was falling apart, but shoot: Alf was on TV. You get what I’m saying: childhood was awesome.
And some of that awesome just comes flooding back— you know it does— with Caine’s Arcade. I sometimes forget what that kind of awesome feels like. That kind of awesome isn’t stressed and tarnished and tethered to stupid shit like Facebook and paying the bills. That kind of awesome invents Unicorn Day and can narrate the shit out of a kitten book. You know what that kind of awesome does? That kind of awesome sees a pile of broken down boxes and thinks “Hey, I can make something out of that!” And then it does.