This took place recently. A friend of mine, who I’ll call Rachel, I first met 20 years ago. She wrote on Facebook recently about a dialogue between her husband (“Thor”) and her daughter (“Anna”).
Anna: Daddy, my birthday party is at Chuck E. Cheese this year!
Thor: Good luck with that. I don’t go to parties at Chuck E. Cheese.
Anna: But there will be pizza and games!
Thor: Anna, I wouldn’t go to Chuck E. Cheese if you were getting married there.
I practically applauded, as I responded: “I’ve been to no fewer than a half dozen CEC bday parties, none for MY daughter. BRUTAL. You should hire a nanny for the afternoon.” As Rachel had previously indicated the importance of quality time with her children, I was trying to suggest that Thor’s (totally justifiable) intransigence should not mean that Rachel should be on the hook for going into the rat’s lair and that she find a third party to suffer.
A relative of Rachel interjected: “What’s wrong with Chuck E. Cheese’s? They have all kinds of games and stuff is supposed to have things for adults to do now.”
I didn’t realize what passion I had for the topic: “It’s loud and mind-numbing, and makes children crazy and greedy for the crap they don’t need. And their pizza is mediocre at best.”
One of Thor’s relatives complained, “It’s her birthday…” but he was unapologetic: “I stand by my comment. Chuckie’s is a not place this man will enter again. Life is too short to spend 1 minute in that insane asylum.” At that moment 1) I so regretted the 700 or more minutes that have been sucked out of MY life at that place and 2) I wondered if the misspelling of the store was a deliberate attempt to evoke that sadistic doll Chucky.
Thor’s stand won him several other admirers. One response encapsulated it: “Thor is a principled man. My hero.”
And people started piling on CEC: “It is a madhouse of undisciplined children and an incubator for who knows how many nasty germs.” And “My niece used to manage a CEC… A couple of my favorite status updates of hers were, ‘Someone s@#$ in the sky tube,’ and ‘A parent just handed me a paper cup full of vomit.’ I’m sharing this just so you know it’s tons of fun for everyone involved.”
Fortunately, I’m at the point where I won’t be asked to go to any more birthday parties at Charles’ place. But, just in case, I’m practicing my Nancy Reagan routine of just saying no.