The burly, bearded Elgin man reaches into his wallet and pulls out his driver's license to check after I ask him. "Oh, I'm 33," he slurs. "For some reason I thought I was 35. But 33, it says here."
Dau does, however, manage the delicate task of sliding his license back in his wallet and then into the recesses of his pocket with one trembling hand, while keeping the other firmly pressed on the glass of a Metallica pinball machine—the same spot he's kept it for most of the past 71 and a half hours.
"I'm kind of delirious right now," he admits.
It's Saturday night and—at last—we've reached the final hours of Headquarters Beercade's Hands-on-a-thon, a pinball tournament for extreme masochists. The part where you win the grand prize by outscoring your opponent? That only starts after you've kept one hand affixed to the machine while standing on your feet for 72 sleepless hours. Never mind cognition. Physical endurance and sheer force of will trump everything else. To quote the heavy metal smiths whose cartoonish visages adorn the game Dau is touching, ". . . and nothing else matters."