Monday, February 19, 2007
Kid Birthday Parties at Chuck E Cheese's: Sit Down! Shut Up! Eat and Leave!
Somewhere, sometime, maybe long ago, or just recently, Charles E Cheese became very angry at the world. I’m convinced of it based on our experience over the weekend.
We were invited to a birthday party at the local Chuck E Cheese's for our neighbors’ 4-year-old daughter. We haven’t been to “Chucks” in awhile and the place is definitely much different since I was a kid. It wasn’t the sticky carpet, cardboard pizza, or odd smells coming from the play area that bothered me - that's all expected. Nope, it was the assigned, angry, 18-year old Jo Polniaczek type hostess who was obviously forced by her parole officer to work there in the kids birthday party department. Why did I sense this? Because everything she did was with resentment, like she wanted to get back at the world for canceling G.L.O.W. in the eighties (I know that feeling all too well.)
Just after eating our half frozen pizza she had the kids line up near the front of the stage (where those scary looking animatronics are) and paced back and forth while yelling like Sergeant Slaughter:
Chucks Bodyguard: Chuck will be visiting! Please follow these rules or Chuck will remove himself from your party! Do I make myself clear?! (kneels down a little, staring at all the kids one by one..)
Kids: (scared) …yes…
Chucks Bodyguard: (pacing again) Rule #1 – Do NOT touch Chuck, unless he touches YOU first. Rule #2 – Do NOT approach Chuck, unless he approaches YOU first. Rule #3 Do NOT make any sudden moves around Chuck. Rule #4 Do NOT yell at Chuck…
...Am I making myself clear!?! ?! (kneels down again, staring at all the kids one by one..)
Kids: (scared) …yes…
Chucks Bodyguard: (turns around and yells at the pizza ordering counter) PRESS PLAY!!
The creepy animatronics started singing “Happy Birthday” totally off sync, twitching and jerking like a bunch of crack addicts, and then Chuck comes walking out inadvertently hitting the stage and walls along the way as if it was the dudes first day working the costume.
After the birthday song was over, the kids were standing there looking around in silence, next to Chuck, a little confused and frightened of him - trying not to make eye contact, possibly out of fear of getting beaten or deported. Chuck’s Bodyguard then ordered them to stand around him with their hands ‘firmly’ at their sides. She then pulled out a bag of tickets (the kind you win from those cheesy games) and started pelting them at the ground like chicken feed, or rocks, while yelling, “Pick them up! Pick them up!!!” All of the kids were on the ground trying to peel them off the sticky floor, some almost in tears. It was sad.
Afterwards, our daughter walks over and hands us a little handful of tickets (which were strangely soggy, wet, and smelled like cigarette smoke…) while the older kids followed, hoping she would drop them.
When the cheerful festivities were done, Chuck’s Bodyguard then yelled over at the birthday girl’s mom, “Do you want the bill now?!”.
I guess that’s her way of saying, “Chuck wants you all to leave.”