Somehow I managed to go thirty years without ever having set foot inside a Chuck E. Cheese. It was a nice, mouse themed pizza restaurant- free streak that was broken last Friday night.
I have to admit, my expectations of what the inside of a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant looked like were less than stellar. I pictured a dark, dirty place teeming with bratty children and snarling parents that served barely edible pizza and games designed to steal your money and give you E. Coli just by looking at them.
Did I say my expectations were less than stellar? What I meant was dead low.
Still, when Derek's father was in town last Friday and offered to take the family out for an evening of pizza and games, I readily agreed. I figured the kids would have fun, and I could handle a few hours of epilepsy-inducing strobe lights.
(By the by, has anyone seen that VeggieTales episode- I think it's Asparagus of la Mancha- where they poke fun at popular American eating establishments? Two of my favorites are "Joppa Java- Why pay a little for coffee when you can pay a lot?" and, of course, "Cheese E. Rodent- Our prices are so low you'll think we're CRAZY!")
So we pull up to Chuck E. Cheese. I've already described my expectations. I'm steeling myself and my gut for hours of protecting my children and my taste buds.
And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a clean and brightly lit eating establishment with, yes, oodles of children, but they were well-controlled children, having perhaps been given an extra dose of Ritalin before leaving the house that night. (Oh, I'M KIDDING. Kind of.)
Sure, there was a terrifying animatronic display of human-sized mice and ducks and what I can only describe as a two-eyed, no-horned, non-flying purple people eater playing fake musical instruments. Caedmon and I seemed to be the only people in the place that were scared, so I'll give them a pass on that one.
The food was decent, the people were nice, the games were fun, no one got E. Coli, and the kids had an absolute ball, begging to go back from the moment we got back in the van to return home. At this point they've managed to extract half a promise from us to return sometime in the next year (which may not sound like much, but we're a homebody kind of family, and besides, there is no way we would go back with anything less than a 1:1 kid to adult ratio. To do otherwise would be madness, believe me).
Whose idea was it to center a pizza-and-game restaurant around a mouse, anyway? Was it designed as a Disney- copycat moneymaking venture, or what? I've always been confused by this.