My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

No Sympathy For The Devil

2006-07-10
Satan, thy name is Nolan Bushnell!

Yes, if Satan really existed he would be the inventor of Chuck E. Cheese. And Pong. And Atari. Bushnell invented CEC so that kids could eat pizza and play his video games at the same time. Well done, Mr. Capitalist!

The Dark One wouldn’t waste him time trying to win over adults, no! He would do what Christians do (and we know how Satan liked to use God’s tricks – only in reverse) – lure in the children! Reel them in while their brains are new and spongy (can you say Vacation Bible School?). And what better way than a pizza restaurant with games and rides and rip-off “prizes” if you spend five zillion dollars on said games and rides?

I could tell CEC’s was the devil’s workshop because I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Yes, it was loud – every damn thing made its own noise, from the animatron Chuck, to the individual games and rides, to the unnecessary piped-in music – and every thing lit up and flashed. There wasn't a spot to rest your eyes. Yes, the eating area was in the middle of the chaos. Yes, the area set aside for McBirthdays (rows of tables all set up for different parties – klassy and about as intimate as a Stones concert) was dark and sad. But, I was expecting something even worse. It was bad enough, though.

I mean, there is a rope at the entrance where you get your hand stamped. Before you can even enter. It’s a fucking restaurant and you STILL have to be on the devil’s list. Not that he’d turn anyone away. Oh, would that it were so!

And the cafeteria-worker-in-training at the podium actually checked our black light stamps again as we were leaving. What, exactly, was that all about? Was the signal that we hadn’t been fully convinced being sent down below where our names would be put on a register? Would I now be put on surveillance by Satan? Would He now be tracking me via my hand stamp (which since I can’t see it in normal light, how can I be sure it’s ever gone?) and my Internet usage?

But, the saving grace, and Dusty’s favorite part, were the tubes attached to the ceiling. Which was FREE! (You see how He sucks them in? We didn’t even have to pay a token for this one!) You (meaning the children) climbed up this cage-like box up into a tunnel world that spanned half the length of the building (as a claustrophobic, the thing made me seriously shudder. Because if Dusty’d gotten stuck in it, I would not have been able to personally rescue her). The tunnels had clear plastic windows (probably sprayed liberally with bird flu virus) so kids could look down upon the Underworld (and their parents) and ended in race cars and airplanes. Dusty told me later that there was a button in the race car that she didn’t push because, "I wasn’t sure what it did and I was scared it would be loud."

See? Her instincts are right. Deep down, she knew she’d stepped into Purgatory. And yet, as we left she whined about how she wanted to stay longer and wanted her birthday party at The Cheese. Satan, he is wily but I will not let his powers poison my child. Nay, I say!

And let me just state for the record: NO CHILD OF MINE WILL EVER, IN A MILLION YEARS, HAVE A SOULLESS BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT CHUCK E CHEESE. EVER.

I might even add that as a codicil to my will – in case something terrible happens to me if I die before they turn 18 and have to face the devil on their own.

I won't even go off on a rant about these public birthday parties. At least, I'll try not to. Clearly, as a non-member of the middle-suburbanite-class, I just cannot fathom the reason for having a birthday party at one of these circles of hell (in two weeks we have another at Pump 1t Up), why it's not done anymore to just have a small party at home.

Not only am I not worried about kids "messing up" my house (because, if I was, I wouldn't have bothered to have children; I mean, that damn ship has sailed, my friends. I got the rest of my life to clean my house and it still might not happen once they're gone.), I also don't have the kind of money it must take to hold one of these soulless events (I looked it up: starting price is about $15 per person).

I don't care how much Dusty wants a party in hell - it ain't ever gonna happen. I have no problem, later on, inviting some kids to the skating rink or to a movie as was done when I got older, but these over-protective parents really need to get a grip. The mother of the birthday girl told another mother, "My husband's really over-protective. This was the only place he felt comfortable."

More comfortable than your own home? Relax and just try to enjoy it. Enjoy your life, your house, your kids! Don't worry about stains on the rug. You got enough money to rent a carpet steamer (or replace the damn carpet) if you can afford to rent a sad table at CEC for 90 minutes and cups full of tokens. Seriously.

******

Dusty Quote: (just to lighten the mood)

“Guess what?”
“What?”
“I have twenty fingers?”
“Really? How’d that happen?”
“Do you want twenty fingers?”
“Hmmm,” I reply as I stupidly actually think this one through. How annoying would it be to have twenty fingers, ten on each hand? Awful, I think.
But Dusty didn’t allow for much reflection,
“All you have to do is count each finger twice!”

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1:46 p.m. ::
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