Saturday, September 08, 2007

Chocka Chocka Cheese

That's what Jarrah calls it. The place we went today--the place I swore I'd never go. Amazing how one's priorities change with parenthood, and sometimes insidiously, messing with one's ideals until suddenly you're saying things you never thought you'd say, like "Do you want to go dance with Chuck E. and his friends? I think he likes you."

That's right, Dear Readers. We went to Chuck E. Cheese today. I was a little nervous it would be a zoo on a Saturday. Jessica, already a veteran, confirmed that it would. But it wasn't so bad. In fact (dare I admit this?) we kinda had fun. All three of us. And (gasp!) I would go back.

For the uninitiated, Chuck E. Cheese is not just a place to get passable pizza and wings (in fact, the pizza wasn't terrible, and it was steaming hot and fresh. It's like the old joke: "How is pizza like sex?" "When it's good, it's great, and when it's bad, it's still pretty good.") It's a combination arcade/playground/birthday party zone. It reminds me of Dave and Busters, which is the same thing targeted to adults, except that I hated that place, and I didn't hate this. For one thing, we'd printed a coupon from the internet that entitled us to one ginormous pizza with anything we wanted on it, three refillable drinks, and 30 game tokens, all for the non-princely sum of $20. I figured 30 tokens would be like 30 tickets at the San Diego Fair--we'd get on one and a half rides. But at Chuck E. Cheese (am I starting to sound like I've been brainwashed?) one token equals one ride or game. Readers, we couldn't have used up 30 tokens if we'd spent the rest of the day there. And every time you play a game, the machine spits out a chain of tickets which are redeemable for plastic prizes. Tiny, crappy prizes, sure--but prizes! Jarrah was in heaven spending 10 tokens on a Tootsie Roll.

There was a giant climbing structure with tubes and slides that reminded me of "My Kids Clubhouse," and simulated rollercoasters and mini-carousels and lots of those coin-operated cars from the mall. There was Skee-Ball, dear to me from my own childhood, and I snuck away for a few games. Whee! David loved an arcade game called "Flaming Finger" (I'm going to delicately avoid discussing this name) which involved nothing more than one's own fingertip on a sort of maze, with a timer. David announced that he could happily play this one 10 more times, and probably would have, but alas, it was nap time.

The place was chockablock with birthday revelers, and we benefited from this in the "show room," since Chuck E. himself came out with a lot of red-shirted girls for some sort of cheerleading exercises and personal audiences with the birthday kids. Jarrah was so busy throwing her arms in the air that she almost couldn't eat her pizza, but she eventually managed to put away three slices. The rest of the time, some huge, furry beasts with snapping mechanical eyeballs simulated a rock band on the stage, and Jarrah eyed them warily, stayed in our laps, and announced that "the monsta not come and get me." I assured her that a rider in the monster's contract required that he stay on stage. I will admit that the mechanical furry things were pretty creepy, and I feel smug about the fact that my daughter clearly agrees.

Afterwards, drooling Tootsie Roll down her top, Jarrah said that her favorite part was the pizza, but she wanted to go back to "Chocka Chocka Cheese (aka Chocolate Choo-Choo Cheese) "for more show right now." So I have a feeling that this rite of passage, unlike mastering Everest, will not be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Luckily, we still have a whole mess of tokens.


Jess & Yea Yea said...

Glad you guys had fun! Yea-Yea loves skee ball and the Dinosaur Race game. There's a Chuck E. Cheese in Burbank near the mall. When we'd go shopping we'd have to drive an extra exit on the freeway and double back just so she wouldn't start crying for it as we drove by.

Martha said...

Don't plan on popping my CEC cherry anytime soon, my friend.

So you can go in my stead all you care to!

Carry on. ;)

Robyn said...

Now it's just a hop, skip and a jump to Disney Princesses!!! :) Glad you had fun. That's what memories are made matter where it happens!


Mary and Paul said...

Sounds like Toddler Heaven! We would love to go with you guys, too!



Alex Stanczyk said...

Great story, I was cracking up reading and thinking of how close to home it hits.

Alex S.

The Wades said...

Enjoyed the pizza/sex joke. Never heard that before, but you know I'll remember it forever more.

All the cool moms take their children to CEC.