Well, damn, that was ugly.
Our friend Cassandra needed some mommy-break time. She is dealing with the leftovers from the ugly suicide of her estranged husband and though her boys are great kids, sometimes a gal just has to get a little time to herself.
So, good pals that we are, I say, lemme help you get out of the house, girlfriend. We help her score some tickets to the Gina Gibney recital and I volunteer to take her kids for the evening.
In a moment of utter and completely mindless insanity, I utter the fatal words:
"C'mon, I'll take you guys to Chuck E. Cheese."
Those of you without children, or whose children are not yet of selfportable age, will fail to understand the true horror of this. But those who know are doubtlessly taking on that cringing but defiant posture, like a sort of truculent Uriah Heep, at the sight of those words. They are pursing their lips and shaking their heads, asking "What the FUCK were you thinking?!
I'm not sure now. But what's so embarassing is it didn't involve either drugs or alcohol.
So Friday night comes and off we go to the Chuckster's; myself and Cassandra's two boys in our little Honda, Mojo and the Peep in her truck. Note to parents: always check the feet. We arrive only to realize that the Peeper is wearing his little red bedroom slippies.
So we open the doors, passing the huge cartoon critters who must be something in the Chuck Universe but I have no idea who, under the sign reading "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", get our hand stamped by the nice girl at the Studio 54 velvet rope gate and enter into this:
Ohmifuckinggod. It was...it was...I'm not sure how do describe it. Prepubescent Hell with the lid off? A trainwreck colliding with a boiler explosion? Words just don't do it justice. First, there were kids. Kids of all types, shapes, sizes, genders and colors. All of them shrieking. And running. There were games. Clanging games, flashing games, games that whirred, sloshed, blinked and rattled. There was an enormous plastic colon through which partially digested children passed in a sort of shriek-o-peristalsis.
There was pizza, of the most cardboard and horrible sort. And an animatronic Chuck that hosted a karaoke bar at one end of the room, pounding out frightful versions of stuff like the Chicken Dance song. Sweetsufferingbabyjesus.
Through all this the kids were sweethearts. Little Peep found some sort of goofy train game which he enjoyed, and another which involved punching revolving ducks. He ate fries and a bite of the loathsome pizza (ah, sweet genetics! He hated it. Breeding will out...). Cassandra's two boys enjoyed the games and had fun, which was the point. Eeyan, the older boy and I even had some genuine fun playing some sort of firefighter game, agreeing that the Mayor was a dork who deserved to get toasted...
Poor Little Peeper threw a huge tantrum when we left, tho, screaming and ranting "I hate you!!" until he collapsed in his car seat, exhausted. We put him in his little bed complete with red slippers on. And got something decent to eat in the soothingly quiet kitchen.
And Cassandra enjoyed the dance recital and her time with herself. Which was more to the point. So I'm glad we could help.
But I feel like a trooper who has just emerged, terrified but whole, from his first real combat. I have been tried in the furnace and emerged, not victorious, but alive. And I have learned: stare into the Rodent long enough and the Rodent stares back at you...
The Mouse is evil. Evil, I say. Beware the Chuckster, for he will lead you among dark places and into ways that are vain. Don't believe me? Believe your eyes - here's the proof: