Friday, September 26, 2008

Chuck E. Cheese

So far Katherine and I have been able to protect ourselves from the huge marketing machine that seeks to devour children's souls. Our exposure has been limited thanks to the fact that our healthcare provider promotes breastfeeding (protecting us from the onslaught of offers from formula companies) and because we do most of our shopping through resale channels (Craigslist, Once Upon a Child, Mom-to-Mom sales, etc). So far, all we've really had to endure was the professionally trained fear-mongers at Babies R Us ("if you don't purchase the most expensive crib mattress, it may accidentally fold in half and crush your innocent child while he/she sleeps."... they're good.)

Well, about two weeks ago we were invited to the birthday party of our friends' daughter. And that birthday party took place at Chuck E. Cheese's ("where a kid can be a kid"). Most of you will remember Chuck E. Cheese's as Showbiz Pizza, which used to be operated by Billy Bob Bear (lead singer and guitarist for Rock-afire Explosion) until it was takeover in a leveraged buyout in the late 80's by a group of investors which included Berkshire Hathaway, KKR, and Chuck E. Cheese (who I've heard comes from a wealthy family that made its fortune speculating after the Civil War).

I hadn't been to one of these places in somewhere between 20 and 25 years and was a little overwhelmed once we arrived. I think Katherine summed it up best by observing, "this is just a sports bar for children." The place was full of games and rides and things to climb on and tv screens and flashing lights and ringing bells and people dressed in animal costumes... it was total sensory overload (which is why Lyla woke up crying three time that night). Anyway, once we were able to get oriented we ended up having a lot of fun, playing games, eating pizza, talking, etc. etc. A lot of my friends were there too: Ellie, Justin, Josh, Abbie, Megan, Biscuit, Lady Biscuit, The King of the Mammals, Duracell (aka Spinner), Theresa, Julie, uh, other people.

Overall, it was a lot of fun but a little too much stimulation (see photo above and on left). I ended up winning about 100 tickets which I gave to Ellie. Lyla made it through the whole night without melting down but she was definitely overwhelmed by all that was going on. The best, er, worst part was when Chuck E. Cheese himself came up to Lyla while I was holding her and she started to cry. Stupid mouse, scaring little kids. The nerve!