There are a few unpleasant aspects to being named Chuck. Your name is also a verb describing the action of disposing of something. You get to hear "What's up, Chuck? Get it? Upchuck?" from one faux comedian or another on a nearly daily basis. Rickie Lee Jones fans ask you if you're in love. And my personal favorite, nitwits try to be cute and call you Chuck E. Cheese. To all this I say ha. Very fucking ha. Was that supposed to be comedy? Keep working on it.
I don't know why, but it's the Chuck E. Cheese that cheeses me off the most. Maybe because it's not even remotely funny -- even less so than the other lame comedic forays. Whatever the reason, it's fostered in me a nearly rabid hatred of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain, even though I've never been in one of their fine establishments. The Chuck E. Cheese people have never done anything to me and it's not their fault I encounter wannabe funny halfwits who would be flummoxed by a 5th-grade knock-knock joke, but I hate them with a burning passion anyway, the fuckers. And so I've made it my life's mission never ever to set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese.
It's all very noble. Really it is. It's pride, personal principles, self respect and keeping one's word to one's self all rolled into one. I'm a conscientious objector on the battlefield of pizza commerce. I will not lie down, I will not go quietly. I am the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born and I will not stop at Chuck E. Cheese on the way. In the finest of Amurrican tradition, I AM BOYCOTTING THEM!!!
Sounds good, eh? Well, in the final analysis I am completely full of shit: today I went to Chuck E. Cheese.
I could have been a man of principle to the day I died but nooooo, I had to have a child, I had to open a chink in my armor of self righteousness so this restaurant targeted at children could find purchase. And that child had to have friends at school. And one of those friends had to have a birthday party at my namesake restaurant. And that child had to invite Zoe. And I, spineless bastard that I am, had to take her. Gladly, even, because she wanted to go so badly.
I am ashamed. But look! I've got pictures!
Zoe takes Chuck E. for a spin
...and ignores a weird hitch hiker
I have to say that although I'd never set foot in the place before, Chuck E. Cheese was pretty much exactly what I'd expected. Noisy, lousy food, garish colors, and all manner of games and toys and gimcracks and gewgaws to separate parents from their money. It was a manic den of hyperactivity that cried out for massive doses of Ritalin.
Zoe loved it.
She couldn't get enough of the car/helicopter/rocketship rides, the ones that rock relentlessly forward and back, forward and back for about two minutes until the timer runs out and the ride stops and the kid says "I wanna go again, Daddy! Go again!" The picture above is of ride #37, I believe. She also liked the stage show, where a motley crew of animatronic 6-foot tall mice "perform" hits straight from the bad old 80's. I found them extremely disturbing because the "lead" mouse sounded exactly like Barney, who, as we all know, must die. It's bad enough that I look up in recognition at the sound of his voice, but I have to see a mouse when I do? Bad mojo, baby.
So my Chuck E. Cheese boycott crumbled in the face of toddler entertainment. I'd like to be able to say it was just a slip and that I'm girding myself for war again, but I don't think that's going to happen. I think I may be doomed to become a Chuck E. Cheese regular. You see, Zoe got to ride those rocking cars several dozen times just on the strength of "I wanna go again, Daddy!" On our way out the door she said the same thing of Chuck E. Cheese.
I don't wanna go again, but I will because Zoe wants to. But I'll still turn you into pizza topping if you call me Chuck E. Cheese.