Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Monday, May 08, 2006

Memories of Chuck E.

Party Time for Josiah

Our little nephew Josiah turned four years old and had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese last weekend.

I attended with Steven and Sean and everyone had a great time. Our boys are at an age where Laser Tag is their birthday activity of choice, but they still enjoy the kiddie chaos that is Chuck E. Cheese.

Doug and I are probably the only adults in the world who used to go to Chuck E. Cheese before we had children.

The Rockies chalk up another win

We'd eat really bad pizza in Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, while being entertained by animatronic animals like Jasper T. Jowls the hillbilly hound, Pasqually the Italian pizza maker, Dolli Dimples the hippo from Hoboken, and Broadway Helen Hennie the chicken.

Late on a Saturday night, Chuck E. wold be belting out classic tunes by bands like The Doors, Guns 'n Roses, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. They even had a champagne brunch, all the bad pizza, salad, and champagne you could consume and unlimited tokens.

After dinner we'd play video games until the place closed. They used to have such video game classics as Tapper, where the player is a bartender whose object is to serve Budweiser to as many customers as possible.

Then Steven entered our lives, and many things changed, including Chuck E. Cheese. The Pizza Time Theatre lives on, but the classic rock tunes are gone, replaced by cutesy little kiddie stuff.

For a while they had a ball pit, which I never liked. When Steven was little, he'd fall down in the balls and not be able to get up. If there were big kids in there, he'd usually get stepped on.

Josiah smiles for Steven

Doug was a brave soul, he used to get in the ball pit and bury himself completely under the balls, then he'd grab the feet of little kids who happened in there and drag them under while they screamed.

At one particularly unpleasant birthday party that Steven was invited to, I dragged him out of the ball pit after I noticed that it reeked of urine, some child who hadn't completed his or her potty training was having too much fun to make it to the bathroom.

When Steven was 2 1/2, he got invited to a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, and as always I attended with him. He crawled up to the top of those tubes and was having a good time until twenty 9-year old boys finished their pizza and invaded the play structure.

I could see Steven's tearful and frightened face through one of the windows in the side and I removed the shoes from my feet, which were swollen up like sausages, and I climbed and crawled the length of those tubes to retrieve him. The 9-year old boys took one look at the expression on my face and got out of my way.

I was 8 months pregnant with Sean when I attempted this feat and the Braxton-Hicks contractions were so bad when I finally made it out of there I thought I was going to give birth there and then. My feet swelled so much while my shoes were off that I wasn't able to put them back on to drive home (the real reason that pregnant women are barefoot).

Our nephew/cousin Ryden, 15 months old

The boys are older now and it is no longer necessary for me to crawl through the tubes. Chuck E. Cheese seems to have reached the same realization that I had years ago, that the ball pits are unsanitary and inappropriate for children of any age and they're gone now, thank God.

We had a great time at Josiah's birthday party. They've improved their pizza, it was good this time. The Pizza Time Theatre has video karaoke, where the kids can dance to silly music and movie ads and see themselves on the big screen.

Chuck E. is the last remaining member of the animatronic band, we miss the others. I just wish they'd bring back the classic rock.

Happy Fourth Birthday, Josiah, we love you!

- Kathleen

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