“Oh–I see, it’s Chuck E. Cheese‘s. I never knew that.”
“What do you mean you didn’t know that? You just said, ‘Look, it’s Chuck E. Cheese, let’s go to Chuck E. Cheese!’”
“Yeah, I said Chuck E. Cheese. Not Chuck E. Cheese’s. Look at the sign.”
“Yeah, his name is Chuck E. Cheese. But it’s his joint, so it’s called Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
“Chuck E. Cheese. Look at the sign.”
“There’s a mouse?’
After successfully purchasing a refrigerator this weekend, we decided it was as good as time as any for our first trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s as adults. Actually, for me it was the first trip as an adult, but for Mr. Right-Click it was the first trip ever. Though Mr. Right-Click had heard of the fabled kid-friendly pizza joint–”Can you imagine, what’s better than a pizza joint? A pizza joint with an arcade inside of it!”–from some of his childhood friends, they did not have one in his hometown. Incidentally, having a Chuck E. Cheese’s in the town where Mr. Right-Click grew up is about as likely as having a Walmart in the middle of Greenwich, CT. (Note to self: make sure there is no Walmart in Greenwich, CT. There is a recession, after all, maybe things have changed? Also, is “joint” the right word? Is there something more current/street chic I should be using?)
Mini has already visited Chuck E. Cheese’s on several occasions with his neighborhood motorcycle gang. But he decided that it would be OK to go with Mommy and Daddy this one time.
As we headed towards the restaurant at about the same time as another kid (of maybe 5? years) headed towards the door with his mother. Looking at Mini, he whined, “Why is that BABY going to Chuck E. Cheese?!” and his mother said, “Be nice. Or we’re going home.” No matter. Mini is so much of a baby that he doesn’t know he’s supposed to be insulted by this appellation by his elder peer.
If you haven’t been to Chuck E. Cheese’s lately, then I will tell you that the more things change, the more they stay the same at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Example: now you can’t just walk in, you must first submit to having your hand stamped with a number in black-light readable ink. This same number is assigned to everyone in your party. I have to assume this is to keep people from kidnapping other people’s children that they meet at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Like, say you meet a kid cuter than your own, and you want to switch him out–no dice. Not possible anymore. This hypothetical is only academic for me, because I have the cutest child in the world, but I suppose it could happen to somebody else with less impossibly cute children.
So the number might make sure that you can’t take MORE children or DIFFERENT children, but it does nothing to ensure that you leave Chuck E. Cheese with all of the children you brought there. So if you are thinking of abandoning a child, one place you might consider going to is Chuck E. Cheese’s.
On the other hand, it’s only a velvet rope that separates you from the door with your illegally acquired children and/or leaving without a child, and as far as I know velvet ropes have only ever been effective at keeping unfashionable people out of nightclubs. I doubt that they would have any effect upon a determined child abductor, nor would they shield you from persistent cries of “HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” from the misbehaving progeny you are trying to leave behind.
Still, nice they have at last made an effort to address the potential problems of a restaurant establishment filled with kids jacked up on sugary pizza, soda, and ADHD-triggering video games. In my day, there were no such safeguards, and I remember it being much, much darker, especially in the room with the animatronic Chuck E. Cheese and his band. There must have been a billion little dark corners in that one I went to as a child. Yet again I am reminded that it is a miracle anyone in my generation made it out of our childhoods alive, unmolested, with all limbs intact.
We walk in and my boy’s face was all joy and smiley sunshine. My boy, Mr. Right-Click, that is, who announced, “This place is AWESOME.”
I have to admit that I didn’t feel the same way, particularly not with Mini running in and out of the tightly arranged rows of arcade games–many of which had moving parts and potential for complete toddler-crushing. Mini is so fascinated by larger children that he gravitates toward the most dangerous part of any kid-filled area. At Chuck E. Cheese’s, my already low tolerance for crowds and the public was taxed by the immediate danger to Mini and the complete incapability to control my environment.
Still, while Mr. Right-Click was getting the cheese pizza we ordered for Mini, I was a good sport. I chased Mini around and tried to encourage his interest in an admittedly boring Teletubbies ride. But what he wanted to play with was some kind of racing game that allows the user to lie down on a (germ infested) seat (no, chaise? fainting couch?), which twists around violently, presumably meant to mirror the movements of the imaginary car that you are supposedly driving. The chief appeal of this ride to Mini was not the prospect of driving a car, but rather the shadowy area beneath the seat/chaise/fainting couch, no doubt because of its octopus of cords and greasy springs.
Mr. Right-Click procured the pizza and we rounded up Mini for some lunch. This is tough because he’s not terribly interested in food (again, might be time for a DNA test, I don’t see how this could be my child), and with all of the moving parts of Chuck E. Cheese’s there to distract him, getting him to eat would prove a herculean task.
“There’s not even cheese on this,” Mr. Right-Click said.
“Yeah there is. It’s just really shitty pizza,” I countered, whilst stuffing it in my mouth. And getting another piece.
“No, seriously, look at this, there is no cheese on this. Or maybe it’s actually inside the bread.” While Mr. Right-Click studied the pizza, Mini continued to suck down apple juice out of a juice box and attempt to wriggle out of my grasp.
“Wait, YES, THAT IS CHEESE,” Mr. Right-Click exclaimed, holding up a piece torn off the top of the pizza. It might have been bread, it might have been something left over from the set of ER.
“This place SUCKS.” Mr. Right-Click decided, throwing the human tissue/pizza sample down.
“But I guess they have to make it that way, so the kids can eat it.” Speaking of kids, Mini was still struggling to get free, so finally I let him stand up on the seat of the booth. He then promptly fell down and bumped his head on the table.
“Time to go!” I said.