Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The king of cheese

Miriam attended her first American birthday party on Saturday. She was previously a guest at Natalie's birthday party in Amman, and then later in the summer, Natalie's sister Tina's party.

But the neighborhood-kids-in-the-kitchen birthday parties she attended in Jordan could not compare with what she experienced on Saturday. That's because this party (for a 3-year-old friend) was at Chuck E. Cheese.

I'll admit that I was nervous when I received the invitation. The boy's mother is a good, trusted friend of mine, so it's not that I felt the need to question her judgment. But I haven't been inside of a Chuck E. Cheese "restaurant" in at least 17 years, maybe longer. I had all these flashbacks of animatronic animals who were missing major portions of their bodies lurching around unnaturally while singing "Happy Birthday Boy or Girl." Then I remembered that that was from an episode of The Simpsons, and so there was probably nothing to worry about.

But it turns out that I wasn't that far off. There were animatronic animals lurching about on a stage positioned uncomfortably close to the dining area. And the animatronic Chuck E. Cheese himself was missing the back of his head (though he didn't catch on fire like he did on The Simpsons).

The toys were also pretty much as I remembered them, complete with abrasive sound effects and lots of flashing lights. There was no ball pit, though - have those been outlawed in America?

In the end, I think Miriam had a great, if occasionally overstimulating, time. I was the one who had a problem overcoming the unwholesome juxtaposition of "playing on germy toys" with "eating pizza immediately afterward."

And it was definitely worth it for this picture we took at Chuck E. Cheese's Sketch Booth:

My friends, you will never see a worse picture of Miriam Damascus. The saddest part is that you can tell she's trying so hard. (In case you're wondering, I'm looking up at the screen to see if the camera had taken the picture yet. Apparently, it hadn't. I don't know how I missed the beep amid all the chaotic background noise.)

After all the games she played, Miriam had a whopping 12 tickets. She traded them in for a cheap plastic ring. It is currently her favorite possession.

Thank you, Chuck E. Cheese.


Liz Johnson said...

That is AWESOME. May neither of you develop any rare Chuck-E-Cheese-related diseases in the upcoming days.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

You had the fortunate experience of growing up in my world where loud, dark, dirty places serving expensive, disgusting pizza, with characters in seedy costumes providing obnoxious "entertainment", were off limits. Yes, that describes the Chuck-E- Cheese of the 80s and 90s just perfectly. And though it has evolved into a lighter, brighter place I suspect the rest of the list is still valid.

Nancy said...

Apparently there are no ball pits in America anymore. e were just talking about that at playgroup today.

Bridget said...

From Wikipedia:

"In the early 2000's, Chuck E. Cheese's removed their ball pits due to safety concerns and due to the fact that the pits were a drain on resources, since children would frequently steal individual balls until the pits were far below capacity and unusable."

The Ensign's said...

haha that's great. That's pretty much how I invision Chuck E Cheese. However the kids love it. I went to a birthday party there years ago and it just seems like they could make some major improvements. I thought it was just the one I had gone to though. Well like I said as long as the kids have fun and hey it's a lot of stress off the parents to plan a party.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Do you remember that we had a few of those ball=pit balls around the house? So it was our fault. . .


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