Chuck E. Cheese is the Proprietor of Chuck E. Cheese’s, a Restaurant and Gaming Establishment in Which a Kid Can Be a Kid

by anna on August 27, 2008

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“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.”
“Whose name?”
“The mouse.”
“What mouse?”
“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 View definition in a new window 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.

{ 11 comments }

Mary Anna August 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

I hate, hate, hate Chuck E. Cheese’s! We went with my 3-year-old for his first time the other day for a birthday party. It was so dirty and gross! My friend calls it “rat pizza,” and I think I’ll use the phrase. I wrote about it on my blog . And, I referred to it as Chuck E. Cheese. Shows what I know!

anna August 27, 2008 at 11:31 am

I have to admit I went through and changed all of them to Chuck E. Cheese’s, because my natural inclination is to call it Chuck E. Cheese. It’s very awkward.

And more annoying is that I even cared enough to go back and change it!

HeatherPride August 27, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Ew, I haven’t had the courage to brave Chuck E. Cheese’s yet. But then ours is kind of in the ghetto which is just another reason for me to avoid it altogether.

Oh and when I was a kid our version was called Showbiz Pizza, and yes, it was totally dark and freaky.

My Buddy Mimi August 27, 2008 at 2:01 pm

I am heading to Mr. Cheese’s establishment for the first time in a few weeks. My problem is that I have a dairy-allergic child, which is why we have avoided it so far. It could be a good thing for us that there might not be real cheese on the pizza.

the gazelle August 27, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I have never been to a Chuck E. Cheese’s fine pizza & gaming establishment. They didn’t have them where I grew up (the sticks) and now I don’t have children (and all my friends with kids live far away, so I don’t have to pretend to want to go to someone else’s kids birthday party – not that I would have to pretend).

I actually prefer Vegas. Dark corners for potential molestation? Check. Games? Check. Free drinks if I pretend to be playing slots? Check. Very few children? Check and check mate.

Mary Anne August 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

I am convinced the mouse is speaking to the children in some type of secret code because they lose their minds immediatly upon entering and then demand to be taken back the very next day. My kids tell their friends, “Mommy hates the Mouse.” While it may sound harsh, it’s true…so I can’t argue.

BTW…happy belated b-day! I knew there was a reason I liked your blog so much, I’m a Virgo too and my day is Friday…of course my day happened several years before your day, but oh well. :) Hope it was a good one.

Linds August 27, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Anna, I’ve never been to Chuck E. Cheese’s, and now I never have to! Thanks for the graphic picture you painted. I don’t even know if there are Chuck E. Cheese’s’ (punctuation????? how do I make Chuck E. Cheese’s plural????) in Canada; I’ve never seen one.

And since I have never seen a Chuck E. Cheese’s, I’ve only ever heard about it on t.v., I thought it was “Chucky Cheese”. You really *d0* learn something every day!

Toe August 27, 2008 at 4:54 pm

How you kept it in check I’ll never know. I can’t be near any place where unsupervised children run wild. Therefore we avoid places like this but when I was a child we had a Chuck E. Cheeses’ that you could crawl under the stage and there was a blacklight maze you could go through. How we never got seriously maimed there I will never know.

Maria S. August 27, 2008 at 8:28 pm

My son Alex, who is 9, knows that “Mommy does not do Chuck E Cheese’s”. EVER. No way. No how. I did, a total of 1 times. And that was it. This was several years ago when we lived really close to one. Never again, you can’t make me. Birthday at Chuck E Cheese’s? Nope, you are not going. Unless you talk your father to take you. And Dad would rather be unmanned than go to CEC. So my son will grow up having been to CEC only once in his life. Oh well, there is always adult therapy later in life; I’d rather pitch in for that than go to CEC. Hey, I grew up with smoker parents, no seat belt, lots of Coke from a young age, riding my bike alone all over the neighborhood, etc., etc. and I did quite well (or maybe it has not yet manifested itself…my inner serial killer lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce). So he’ll get over it. Or not.

PauvrePlume August 27, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Ok, I am sitting here in total awe that so many people have NEVER been to see the Cheesemeister! I grew up (<-I hate saying this, as it implies I’ve finished growing, which I clearly haven’t, as is evidenced by my need to buy a larger size of pants) in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, and there was pretty much a CEC’s within a 15- or 20-minute drive from wherever your starting point was. Honestly? I have no recollection of that pizza. I could’ve given two cow-plops about the food. All I knew was that 1) there was skee ball, 2) the skee ball machine magically produced cool tickets that translated into tons of sugary candy and wax vampire fangs, 3) Chuck E. and all his puppet cronies scared the F out of me and gave me nightmares, so I dodged them immediately upon entering the joint, and 4) I was/am a total nerd and always got a sh*tload of As on my report card, which translated into a discount that my parents (logically) loved. Don’t you love how Chuck E. (which, coincidentally, just so happens to be the name of a menacing, murdering terror of a doll) tries to be a champion of education?? What a freakin’ phony creepazoid. Go sing your lame song with your scary-A friends, you freaky-deaky, hollow-bodied crackhead!

(was that a bit much?)

Crash Commanda August 30, 2008 at 5:59 am

I can attest there is DEFINITELY no Wal-Mart in Greenwich, CT. Nor are there any Chucky Cheese’s. :)

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