Birthday party season has begun.
As painful as some of these birthday parties have been – we have managed to avoid one place.
Anytime my children see the commercials for Chuck E.
Cheese they beg and plead for me to bring them to this magical place. I have been telling them for years – that (even though there are blatantly children their age in the ads) only teenagers can go there.
A couple of weeks ago, we got an invitation for both kids to go to a birthday party. Sometimes I throw invitations I don’t like into the garbage and hope for the best – but there was no way that I would get away with that for a party that they were both invited to. I would not be able to beat the system….
“Wait – Michael has soccer practice on Friday nights! Oh well….can’t go.” I said as my husband ( I will just call him Mr. Gaga) and I were standing at our kitchen island going through the mail.
“They are going to the party,” he said without even looking up from something he was reading.
So let me digress and give a little background on this situation. Mr. Gaga played football his whole life, like it was his job. Year-round, all weekend, every weekend, all summer.
He never had a real summer job, he never went to summer camp that wasn’t sports-related, AND (this is apparently the big one) – he never really made it to a lot of birthday parties.
Guess what his prize was for all of his hard work?
Was he getting fat eating Smurf cake or getting bruised knees from all of the falling down at the roller-rink like the rest of us? (it was the 80’s)
He got to go to college for free!!
Not even just a “here are some free classes and a free room scholarship” – The full ride I am talking about is the kind where you don’t even buy a french fry or a pencil.
Stone-cold free college at a Division 1 School.
Oh – that was a totally horrible thing that happened right??
You can see why he would still be harboring weird resentments regarding Chuck E. Cheese – right?
“What the eff are you talking about? He doesn’t have to go to the party.” I said.
“Just let him be a kid and have fun – he’s 5 years old – he can miss a practice.” he replied with exasperation.
“OoooKaaayyy, they can go to the party,” I said slowly,”But don’t you think it would be good to teach him about practicing and what it means to commit to a team, and so forth?”
He looked at me like I was an idiot – “Come on – it’s first grade soccer – It’s not a big deal.”
“Ok – well good thing Tiger Wood’s father didn’t think like that……or Lynne Spears.” – (Damn it – those were the only people I could think of that started their careers as children -but I knew I just shot myself in the foot.)
He couldn’t wait to reply – “Oh yeah – how did that turn out?”
I shrugged – “Ok – then maybe you’re right. When I go to the party I am going to ask to speak to someone about what kind of scholarship program they offer at Chuck E. Cheese. Or maybe they could go to Chuck E. Cheese University.”
He smirked – “Good one.”
“Or maybe by the time they go to school there will be some sort of competitive inflatable bounce house teams or they could get sponsored by like a corporate face painting company…..”
The dreaded day came on Friday. I kind of secretly was looking forward to checking it out. I remember going for my brother’s birthday when I was like 8 and thinking it was the best place in the world. I was looking forward to seeing the joy in my kids’ eyes. I mean how bad could it be?
Um – bad.
Let’s just say that if they were going to make Chuck E. Cheese University they would have to change the tagline to be “Where a kid could be an asshole while his parents gnaw on chicken bones and watch.”
My four-year-old learned real quick when he put his FULL bucket of tokens down on his seat for 30 seconds and it got stolen.
Then they were playing “Skee Ball” and their tickets came out and some little girl came and ripped them all off and RAN AWAY!!
When I saw her ripping off all of our tickets, I said:
“Did you just rip off their tickets?” thinking that clearly calling her out would shame her into returning them.
“Nope.” she said while she counted her tickets.
Shocked I looked to see if her parents were watching – they were. They didn’t care.
What? You didn’t know you could get wings at Chuck E. Cheese University?
After all of the fun and games it was dinner time!
And you know how I feel about food? You know how I feel about pizza that is not really pizza? I thought maybe there was hope when I saw this very detailed ad in the paper.
See how it maps out all the areas that have been improved?
Lady goo goo gaga fell for the old “zesty sauce” trick….
What? They zoomed in on a wooden spoon stirring it!!!
I also fell for the old “variety of quality toppings” trick with a zoomed in picture of green peppers and cauliflower? to prove it.
False advertising Chuck. Not improved – it is still really bad.
But the kids didn’t care- and I could have actually given them their rainboots with some sauce and cheese on it and they would have probably not noticed.
So off to the ticket-muncher we went to redeem our tickets (what was left after we got car-jacked at the Mario Kart game and had to give all of our tickets away to the carjacker.) Then the kids got to pick out really fancy toys that have pictures of Chuck all over them.
Then we escaped.
My kids passed out cold when they went to bed probably dreaming of all of the fun and laughs they had. I had nightmares about cardboard pizza and these creepy weirdos.
Till the next birthday party!
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And F.U. Friday