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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

field trip

brother nice guy came to town this weekend! every year around now, le frere has a two-day conference to attend in manhattan. since the conference runs on tuesday and wednesday, he arrived on sunday evening, ate a late dinner with us and spent monday bonding with his niece who he doesn't get to see much of.

what did we do monday? why, we took the little whippersnapper to the brooklyn chuck e. cheese, of course. a few weeks ago, the sitter reported that she had taken the girl there, and this aroused a strange set of conflicting emotions in me: 1) i was a grumpy because i wasn't so sure i wanted my younger-than-two-year-old daughter to go on a bad-pizza-and-video-game field trip. 2) i was sad because i wasn't the one who got to take her on her first bad-pizza-and-video-game field trip. BAD SITTER!

so we took her to chuck e. cheese. have you ever been to chuck e. cheese OR SHOULD I SAY SCHLOCKY SLEAZE? man this place is some shoddy. where to begin? the games which haven't been updated since 1992? the fourth tier class-D animated characters (like Pasqually The Italian Stereotype So Egregious That Even the Olive Garden Rejected Him As A Potential Mascot)? the fact that they don't sell beer? of course, it doesn't help that the brooklyn franchise is situated in
one of the most obnoxious malls in the country. but, whatever. we walked in tall and proud (mostly because it was funny that everyone clearly thought we were a gay couple out with their daughter and a certain level of discomfort flickered across most people's faces as we passed by). we did what any proud, nurturing father(s) would do: we held our breath and marched right on in. after all, this was supposed to be all about the girl, right? whether or not we wanted to be there had nothing to do with it.

upon our entry, Schlocky Sleaze's maitre d' for some reason that was never explained to us felt the need to stamp our hands. he stamped mine and then my bro's. then he reached for my child who reacted much in the way someone reacts upon learning that they are being taken to a gulag for the rest of their life where they will do hard labor without ever seeing Elmo again. she screamed, twisted, howled, screamed a little more and then screamed. also she cried while she was screaming. and spat fire. so the dude stamped my hand twice and ushered us in.

once inside we made a bee-line for the food counter to order 14 pitchers of beer ... which they don't sell. fuck! so we ordered a pizza and some water. the vendorman told us "we don't have any water. but we have juice." ah, yes. chuck e. cheese "juice." i have no doubt that the beverage on offer was 100 percent fresh squeezed florida grown orange goodness, but i declined anyway in the off-off far left-field chance that the "juice" was actually 439 percent sugar and "natural fruitpunch coloring." then i ordered up $5 in tokens and we went in search of a table.

in wandering through the wilds of the brooklyn chuck e. cheese on a monday afternoon, i was struck by how crowded it was. not only was it crowded -- damn near packed -- but a good nine-tenths of the customers were hasidic jews. now, i don't have anything against the chosen people (hell, three out of four of my grandparents were members of the tribe ... but the crucial maternal grandmother link was lacking and also there was the fact that i didn't want to go to sunday school) but something deep inside me suspects that chuck e. cheese isn't, well, uber-kosher. just sayin'. i don't know, something about pumping tokens into a giant animatronic Clifford the Big Red Dog seems like it must lie in direct contradiction to at least one of the laws of the torah. no?

still, i was determined to show the kid a good time. i stuck her on the carousel. she didn't seem to mind that. i put her in Clifford. that went over fairly well. we tried our hand at a snowmobile video game which i thought was friggin' awesome but inexplicably bored her to whiny tears ("dude, didn't you see how much freakin' air i got off that last ramp," received no sympathy from her). fine, back to the carousel. somewhere along the line she deduced a connection between DISPATCH OF TOKEN and NEW, GOOD THINGS HAPPENING. the most fun game she discovered was one of her own devising: she would take a token, put it into a machine and then ... walk away. then she would take another token and put it into another game and ... walk away again. it was as if she was buying a round for everyone in the house. "LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED, LITTLE BITCHES" ... on dad's dime. i tried to tell her that once the token was placed in the machine, the whole point was to play the game that had just been purchased. she looked at me as if i were a sad, old, out-of-touch coot. "oh daddy, no," she said with her ginormous eyes. "you've missed the point entirely. it's almost cute, how naive you are. now be a doll and give me some more tokens with which to purchase games for my new hebraic friends. then be gone with ye."

all in all the day was a hit. i don't know that i need to rush back to Schlocky Sleaze any time soon ... OR SO I THOUGHT. the next morning, daughtergirl somehow found a remaining couple tokens and scooped them up. "MONEY!" she shouted with weirdly aggressive glee. this was not a word i taught her, but at least she seemed to muster the suitable near-erotic joy with which unexpected newfound riches are to be met with. so, bonus points for her. she waved the tokens in my face and commanded: "ride puppy dog! RIDE PUPPY DOG!" sadly, the giant animatronic Clifford does not live with us, so i had to deny her this request, which was met with an impressive array of pyrotechnic hysterics, screaming and more fire spitting. (note to self: purchase giant red token-eating, bucking puppy dog asap.)

[something i didn't know about chuck e. cheese before i just did some distracted, semi-drunk googling 2 minutes ago: it was started by the guy who founded atari. Nolan Bushnell. good for him. if he ever writes his memoirs he can call them "From Pong to Pasqually, the Nolan Bushnell Story." then he can give me money for giving him that title.]

yesterday after work mrs nice guy granted me a hall pass so i could go out with Brotown--a field trip for grown-ups! le frere and i met at the newly refurbished
campbell apartment douche-magnet. we waited for some of his friends, quaffed a round, hopped in a cab and tried to grab a table at the delightfully delicious spotted pig, but a two-year wait for tables forced us to relocate reluctantly a block away (i was beginning to pine for the relative simplicity of suck e. cheese) to the white horse tavern, a move which was at least made more tolerable by our promptly begining to reenact the moments before Dylan Thomas's death: at least they serve beer. much drinking ensued. so much drinking in fact that i folded early, tucked my tail between my legs and returned home shortly thereafter, leaving Brotherford B. Hayes to continue on into the night with his former freres-in-frat without me.


Anonymous Weeze said...

My husband has promised to knock me up only if I never make him go to that very Chuck E. Cheese.

3/08/2007 8:35 AM  
Blogger Princess Sparkle Pants said...

Poor Mr. Nice Guy. At least our Chuck-E-Hell does sell beer. By the pitcher. Warm, nasty pitchers of Coors Light are the ONLY way to make me endure "When I say Happy, You Say Birthday" year after year after year...

3/08/2007 9:04 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Our oldest son wanted Chuck E Cheese YEAR AFTER YEAR for his birthday. It was a horrible hell filled existence. Well, that may be an exaggeration. He did have fun after all on his birthday.

But like sparkle pants said, at least ours sell beer.

3/08/2007 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit it, dude. That whole Target mall is full of Chassids for some reason... And I'm a member of the tribe so no hatin' on going here, just sayin'.

3/08/2007 10:58 AM  
Anonymous monkeyaker said...

Remember when Chuck E Cheese was "Showbiz"? And they had those giant animatronic animals playing music at the front?

When I was little, Showbiz was "where it's at." And one time, I crept up to the stage and peeked under the curtains before showtime, you know, expecting to see them getting ready, fixing their fur, tuning up, etc. And I just saw them frozen in-play with this dead expression on their face. Scared the bejeezus out of me. I pissed myself and my mom found me crouched by a pingpong table.

3/08/2007 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Story-I have many memories of Chuck E Cheese Birthday parties from my youth. Dragon's Lair was the game to play at ours.

FYI-Chuck E Cheese and Showbiz were two different places we had both for awhile where I grew up in Seattle.

3/08/2007 1:57 PM  
Anonymous monkeyaker said...

Huh. I always thought "Chuck-E-Cheese" bought out "Showbiz" or something- they took over their building in our town, and had relatively similar themes.

And ours didn't have windows. Kind of like a strip joint. Or a casino. Or satan's lair of evil puppetry.

3/08/2007 5:05 PM  
Anonymous sisco said...

I've never been and I'm not doing it, I'm not going to Chuck E Cheese or whatever it's called. I don't care how bad it is in a good way -- except at the atlantic centers, where everything is bad in a bad way. I have some limits, man?

3/08/2007 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

monkeyaker is right - CEC used to be Showbiz. Google it for the history if you want. (not sure how to feel about the fact that I did once - and it wasn't today after reading the comments)

3/10/2007 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chuck E. Cheese in our town went out of business and the place was bought and turned into a Chinese restaurant. The new owners never fully remodelled the place, however. It quite put me off my chow to look down and see the rat's head carpet. Yes, carpeting. With many, many pictures of Chuck E. Cheese stamped all over it. As far as the eye can see. A trauma from which I may never fully recover ....

3/13/2007 5:18 PM  

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