Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chuck E. Cheese Head

The other day I was feeling overwhelmed by life.... so much flying at me all at once and then I had a flashback….When my sons were little we frequented Chuck E. Cheese. That big rat was quite popular and we even celebrated my son’s 8th birthday there. I was sucked in with the delightful verbal picture painted in the brochure, “Throw a magical party without lifting a finger! Our parties are a totally cool way for your kids to celebrate with the fun of Chuck E. Cheese's. Plus, all you do is relax. Because we do all the work.” Yes, they do all the work, but there is so much more to this token-fueled kid zone that the brochure does not mention. Relaxing in this high stimuli environment is next to impossible (just like real life can be at times).

After investing hours of my life (that I can never get back), I realized that the part of Chuck E. Cheese I did not like was, um, well…. pretty much… all of it. From the moment I walked in, the place was infested with kids from diaper age to doting grandparents and pushy mothers. The Skytubes that lined the ceiling looked colorfully gross. One time I could not find my kid and after looking all over we found him lost in the tube looking down at us bawling his eyes out, unsure how to get down. I never encouraged those human-germ habitrails …especially after my son’s friend peed in it by accident. There was no telling what bacteria and microorganisms called the tubes Home Sweet Home.

Sadly, their pizza was nothing special. But, it cost the same as some other joint that creates a pie worth $15.00. Rip off. They did have a salad bar and served beer (for a small fortune), so it was not all bad in the food department. However, after watching my kids swing from game to game, ride to ride, side to side while burning through 80 tokens in an hour, I developed a bad case of Chuck E. Cheese Head. I define this as mental overstimulation… felt like I had a cement-ball pit in my head and a grey haze over my heavy-tired eyes. There was too much happening at once (like real life), plus it was so loud and everything sticky to the touch (sad to say, but sometimes like my life). I mentally shut down. Once Chuck E. Cheese Head set in, I could only dream of leaving that Rat’s zoo and lie on my couch in dark quiet. Feet up.

But no…there was still the need to turn in the darn tickets and pick out the cheap prize from behind the grimy-fingerprinted glass case. Always understaffed, it took fifteen minutes to have our turn, and then the process of figuring out what junk would litter my car took another ten. At last the visit would come to an end and our final stop was the bathroom for a good scrub down. It really didn’t matter that I insisted on this because my kid would inevitably pick up some virus, no matter how I tried to avoid it. I finally accepted that this is just the way real-life works.

My kids are older and I have not stepped foot in that Rat's Palace for years. However, this phenomenon of Chuck E. Cheese Head lives on. Whether I am overwhelmed standing in Home Depot, trying to make a decision while my kids moan, or if I am at an overpopulated child’s birthday party, that feeling born in Chuck E. Cheese moves in like a nasty storm and I dream of leaving whatever the mayhem and lie on my couch in the quiet dark. Feet up.

Chuck E. Cheese Head….the reality of life that big-happy-dancing-hairy rat gave birth to, is here to stay and the craziness he represents is part of the real world.


Cheeseboy said...

This is a brilliant post, Rose. And so much truth to it too. My kids love that dump and I will do anything and everything to talk them out of it and into something a little more, uh, clean.

Jenn Timm said...

Could you write a book, pllleasssee? :)
and p.s. Chuck E. is evil. Every time he came to the table for my birthday, he threw the cake in my face! :( That flea bag didn't have any manners. ;)