Death To Chuck E.!!!


Alas, I was unable to escape that veritable requirement of being a parent nowadays: Surviving a birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese establishment.  Up to this time, I had managed to evade and elude such events, even though Duckling1 (5-years-old) was already voted “Most likely to crash a party” in her Kindergarten class, and is so well liked by all, Princess Diana should be rolling in her grave.  That is, Duckling1 was “Miss Popularity”, being invited to EVERY kid’s party.


This time around, the neighbors’ four-year-old, Bitsy, was having her party at Chuck E. Cheese and the neighbors had invited BOTH Ducklings and both MrsDuck and yours truly to attend.  Maybe if I pretended I had cooties and told MrsDuck that I couldn’t go?  NoooOOOoooo.   It’s really contagious, Dear, look, I’m SWEATING!  Nope.  Couldn’t convince MrsDuck.  Maybe if I dropped the bench grinder on my foot or accidentally put the Aztek up on the hydraulic jack and lowered it onto my foot or….


Nope.  I HAD to go.  No, if’s, and’s, or “but I’ve got an Aztek on my foot”s about it.


We arrive at Chuck E. Cheese, myself with the anticipation equaling that of receiving a root canal or an IRS audit.  We step in the front door, the first thing we see is an ENORMOUS man. Disclaimer: It is usually not politically correct to make fat jokes, but in this case I REALLY HAVE TO.  This is because it was quite obvious that this man was hired for one major asset.  Or that is, remove the last two letters in the last word of the previous sentence and you’ll know what I mean.


“COW!”, Duckling2 (3-years-old) pointed at the large man.  D2 was absolutely correct this time, though.


Yes, this guy was big.  He was somewhere in between the size of “Fat Bastard” of Austin Powers fame and a Buick Park Avenuewith a Hummer H2 parked on it.  His hind end qualified as a weapon of mass destruction.  He was SOOO big…well you get the idea.


He stamped our hands with a special dye to identify ourselves as being of the same family, for security reasons.  No problem there.


Now I hadn’t been in a Chuck E. Cheese before, but I had heard of all the horror stories.  However, Bitsy’s parents arranged for an “early” party, one that started at 11:00AM, and there was no crowd.  There were enough small “sub-five-year-olds” there, though, to keep everyone busy.  There was the “party area” and there was the “general public” and “game area”, and at this time, not very crowded.  That did NOT stop the CEC management from having the PA system volume up somewhere between “biker bar” and “747 at take-off”.  It was LOUD.  Yup.  Chuck E. Cheese was invented to prepare the little ones to a life of spending time in noisy places like school gymnasiums, school dances, cattle auctions, and the Democratic National Convention.


The party started with the employees setting up a birthday cake at our party’s table, followed by a musical medley of birthday music and pop tunes, in which the two waitresses, the waiter, and some poor schlub who drew the short straw and had to get into the Chuck E. costume had to dance (sort of) in front of the table and exude some excitement for being there and making Bitsy’s birthday more fun.  Well, the kids enjoyed it, but most of us parents were watching the employees and the Chuck E. costume victim basically sleepwalk through the motions of the extremely bad choreography, feeling more sorry for them than angry at them.  At minimum-wage, would you wear a full-size mouse suit and jump around…willingly?


Pizza and cake were served, and that was quite uneventful.  Duckling2 had an enjoyable time figuring out how much cake he could cram in his mouth without choking.  All the other kids gave him the nickname of “Sticky”.


The party gig at Chuck E. Cheese is a racket, you get a reserved long table for 90 minutes, 5 minutes of bad dancing by the employees, and then you can be subjected to watching an extremely bad animatronic Chuck E., which was shown to have less life than a Libertarian party debate on C-SPAN.


Well, that part ended with no fatalities.  We stayed around to play games, the typical little kid arcade games that all operated on tokens.  Duckling1 and MrsDuck went off to play different games, while I had to play with Duckling2 and keep him from destroying the place.  (We flipped a token and I lost, I called “tails”, forgetting that Chuck E. Cheese tokens have “heads” on BOTH sides…MrsDuck had remembered this from being here before…)


We found a game that Duckling2 just LOVED, it was the old-fashioned Skee-ball game where you took hard wooden balls and threw them up a ramp to land in one of six holes on the target.  D2, however, discovered a short cut and decided to NOT use the ramp.  With an overhand throw, easily qualifiable to gain him a position as a relief pitcher for the Tigers, he just threw the ball directly at the target, completely airborne…


“COW!”THWACK!!!! the ball hit the target board, you could easily hear the impact…well then again, you couldn’t, the place was so noisy, you could probably run a jackhammer and not be noticed.  Anyway, D2 had garnered about 3540 points per game, but added about 400 points to the Skee-ball players to both sides of him as well.  Not too accurate with that throwing arm, just like the Tiger’s pitching staff....


Meanwhile, MrsDuck and Duckling1 had managed to scam…er, win on several games, earning enough reward tickets to buy a stuffed animal the size of Argentina.


It really wasn’t all that bad, considering the time of day that we went to Chuck E. Cheese, I imagine if we went during the “rush hour” for the parties, which I had learned was any time after 4PM, the place would resemble Beirut.


As we left, we encountered the large man again, he had to check us all out to make sure our hand stamps all matched or he would SIT on one of us.


But it’s a racket.  Chuck E. Cheese has a formula.  Kids are entertained, they have halfway decent pizza, and they employ gravity-challenged humans for security personnel.


By the way, names were changed to protect the silly, would you name anyone of your family “Bitsy”?



Copyright 2003