Exorcising Chuck E. Cheese Demons

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You might find this hard to believe, but I wasn’t a big fan of Chuck E. Cheese even when I was a kid. There was just something about it. I’m not sure what. Perhaps the fact that it’s a life-sized petri dish filled with every strain of virus and bacteria known to man? Yes, that’s probably it. Fun fact: There are a couple of bacterial strains that exist only inside Chuck E. Cheese. The “E” stands for Escherichia.

You might also find it hard to believe that my kids do not share my aversion to The Cheese. When they found out we were invited to a birthday party at the Creepy Animatronic Mouse House, they experienced no qualms, just explosive excitement. I sincerely hoped that their excitement would be the only explosive thing we experienced.

The interesting thing about Chuck E. Cheese is that it’s a nightmare. Well, when you have three young kids to manage, it’s a nightmare. On the plus side, I only had one two-year-old, so I only had to worry about one child relentlessly climbing up the skee-ball ramp. The other two were old enough to fend for themselves…somewhat. They’re still not old enough or adventurous enough to just have at it on their own, but they will venture away for a few minutes at a time.

They’re brief independence did give me the opportunity to take a shot at the arcade basketball game. I didn’t quite beat the high score, but let’s just say I might have overheard a few people whispering that Steph Curry was on the pop-a-shot. My fun ended abruptly, though, when the two-year-old started climbing up the skee-ball ramp. Again.

All good things must come to an end. And so it was that we huddled by the ticket munching machine, piled our tangled mass of tickets onto the floor, and took turns feeding them into the little slot. The process took us a solid ten to fifteen minutes, but it was ultimately worth it because we traded our haul in for a few plastic ring things and several whistles that provided perfect musical accompaniment for the car ride home. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

For more from Explorations of Ambiguity by Andrew Knott, like us on Facebook and sign up here to get the latest updates right in your inbox! My book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available at Amazon.