George was invited to a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. There were so many reasons to not go, but he loves his friend so dearly that I knew I would be spending my Sunday afternoon at the God forsaken, germ incubating, ear drum shattering, over-stimulating, Child's paradise known as Chuck E. Cheese. As a child growing up in West Virginia we were not fortunate enough to have the Chuck E. Cheese, but we did have our own version. It was appropriately named Billy Bob's Wonderland. Is anyone surprised?....no. To add insult to injury I'm pretty sure all of the singing and moving electronic critters were old, decrepit hand-me-downs from Chuck E. Cheese. We had a gorilla playing the piano, a cheer leading mouse, some type of vermin that popped out of a tree stump every now and then. We had a stinky ball pit (they always stink - especially in southern WV when people come down off the mountain for Sara Jo's birthday party), skee ball, whack-a-mole, some other various arcade games, and the illustrious prize counter. Of course, growing up I thought Billy Bob's was a top-of-the line children's mecca. My parent's took us there occasionally and have brilliant memories. Mom and Dad, thank you for the sacrifice! I get it now. I had to include some pictures of Billy Bob's for your viewing pleasure.
I made the mistake of telling George that he would be attending his buddy's birthday party a week in advance. Oh holy hell. What was I thinking - no scratch that - I wasn't thinking at all. My mental faculties haven't been quite the same since my stint as an unpaid waste management employee in my own home last week. I'm not sure if the experience nabbed the extra brain cells clinking around in my head or if it was the harsh chemicals, namely bleach, that caused my lapse in thinking. Anyways, the point is I told the boy we were going to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese - but not for a week. Well....I learned this week that two year olds have no concept of a "week". Every five minutes I was asked when we were going. Any time we went on an outing, George assumed we were going to the party. Which turned out to be a great time when we pulled into the parking lot of Harris Teeter. He even took it upon himself to ask a much younger child at the playground if she could take him to Chuck E. Cheese several times. The girl's mother made a point to share what he said to her daughter. I heard it. I didn't need it repeated. I had been trying to not listen to the incessant begging and whining all week, and now I had a 30 something year old mother informing me that my son wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese. I gritted my teeth and bobbled my head as to acknowledge her important comment. George beamed with joy. He finally found someone that would join his grass roots effort to get him to Chuck E's house. I endured a week of torment that I created for myself. I think it was training for the big day.
We spent three hours racing, and I do mean racing around from game to game. I noticed that games that already have a player are much more enticing. What's worse than watching your child play an arcade game? Watching your child watch someone else playing an arcade game. The party went off without a hitch. When George wasn't looking I threw his coins into any open slot, oh I know....the shame of it all. We would have been there for six hours if I didn't take such liberties at the rate he was going. George excitedly rushed to the prize counter with all of his tickets. We were face to face with a disgruntled, attitude ridden teenage girl who pointed to a minuscule machine with a line longer than the great wall of China of children and weary parents. No longer will the prize giver outers count your tickets. No. Now one has to stand in line with impatient children hopped up on cake and pink lemonade and wait for your turn to cram all of your tickets into the machine, which prints out a receipt with your number of tickets. I thought we were through the worst. To which I say, HA! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
We waited. We crammed in all 114 tickets. George got his receipt, and back to the counter we marched. I thought the big line to the ticket counting contraption was bad. Oh no. It was nothing compared to the non line that we were now in at the ticket counter. It was a virtual herd of exhausted, cranky parents and children shopping for the perfect multi-colored, plastic slinky for 300 tickets. There was no line. It was first scream, first serve, and it was chaos, which is not my friend at all. Eventually we made it up to the front. George told the "wady" that he wanted the finger ball - don't ask. It was just that - a finger ball - which cost 350 tickets, that he couldn't afford. I quickly picked out his prizes for him. He got a lollipop, a crazy straw, and some type of suction cup circular piece of plastic junk, which is probably made of toxic plastic. He was happy with his wares, and now we could leave. I put my time in. It was like serving 5 years in the poky.
We gathered our items and dashed for the doors. We made it through the child check zone - where they check to make sure each person in your party is branded with the same number in invisible ink. I don't know why anyone would wander into Chuck E. Cheese and take someone's monster of a child, but nonetheless, it is a good idea. That's when it hit us. Fresh Air. It never felt so good to breathe in crisp, clean air and see the glorious sunlight. We made it through the party, and we made it out alive. It's all anyone could really ask for. We loaded in the family wagon and drove home. I leaped out of the van when I got home. I was fumbling around with my keys in the door when my husband asked me the dreaded question of all questions when you've just left Chuck E. Cheese. "What is in your Hair"? Oh man. I didn't know if I should come in the house and take a peek or just feel around with my greasy, germ laden paws. I chose the former. Adorning the top of my newly washed, for once blow dried, coiffed, church hair was the stick of a lollipop from one George. We laughed. We took a picture. Enjoy. My husband didn't get off easy either. He crashed on the couch as soon as he walked into our abode. He awoke to find himself being adorned by Chuck E. Cheese birthday party gift bag trinkets by one George. We laughed. We took a picture. Now we have proof to remind us why we don't go to Chuck E. Cheese more often.