Where A Kid Can Be A Kid
The Wednesday lunch is a hallowed tradition down at Wizards and Villains. We eat just after we've finished getting the new comics into subscriptions and out on the wall, so it makes for a good break after a hard morning's work, and that heady feeling of accomplishment combined with the scent of four-color ink really makes for an appetizing sensation. Believe it.
So to celebrate finally moving to the New Store, Tug suggested that we have a series of special-occasion style lunches at places we don't usually hit up. Last week, it was a trip across town to a nice Chinese place for hot tea and lunch specials. And this week... This week was Chuck E. Cheese.
Incidentally, the tentative plan for next week is Hooters, which is pretty much Chuck E. Cheese for adults, but with worse food and no animatronics. They do, however, have a highly detailed employee handbook.
But back to the lecture at hand. Chuck E. Cheese's: Where a kid can be a kid. Or, at the very least, where three guys in their early twenties can go to play King of Fighters and get creeped out by cockeyed robots. Tug, Josh and I rolled in on a school day in the middle of the afternoon, thus ensuring that we were pretty much the only folks in the place. It didn't make it any less sad. We settled on our order, grabbed a handful of tokens, and ventured in, killing time until the slightly creepy stage show started.
We walked through the restaurant looking for a table.
"Get one so we can see the show," said Tug, as he filled his cup with orange soda for the full Chuck E. Cheese experience.
"Well do you want a table or a booth?"
"Just get one so we can see the show. They have booths over there."
You can know someone for three years and not realize the passion they have for animatronic mice in tuxedos.
After we settled on a table in full view of the stage, Josh went straight for Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, while I sought out a surface that was not covered in the grease of a thousand children's birthday parties. I settled on Skee-Ball, netting myself four tickets for my efforts. That works out to three quarters of a Smartie®, .02% of a Batman action figure, or .0013% of a Super Soaker. The world is my oyster.
I decided it would be prudent to save the tickets, and we rolled back to the table to await the show, which they had told us started every ten minutes. What we got, though, was a set full of silent robotic animals jerking and clicking in the shadows. There was apparently a glitch in the system, and for the few minutes while we waited for them to fix it, we got an extremely creepy show that, if filmed and played backwards, would terrify a grown man into four years of intense Adlerian therapy.
What made it even scarier was the fact that Helen Henny's right eyelid was stuck, giving her the look of a one-eyed, deadly silent five foot-tall robotic chicken who would occasionally jerk her head loudly to look directly at me, winking with her good eye.
Also, as we waited, we caught sight of a couple of Chuck's employees doing some repairs on one of the rides. It was a miniaturized version of a monster truck, the kind you'd see outside a K-Mart or something, and to our surprise, they had the hood opened and were peering down into it like mechanics from some race of giants. Tug said it was the cutest thing he'd ever seen.
Finally, we were treated to the world-famous Chuck E. Cheese song and dance show. Well, not dancing, really, but as good as you'll get from animatronics owned by a pizza chain. The Hall of Presidents, it is not.
One thing that raised our eyebrows was that they introduced Chuck as "the world's favorite mouse." What, really? Because there's this other guy I've heard of that might have you beat.
The other strange thing was the music. Admittedly, I haven't been an eight year-old for some time now, but are The Kids These Days™ really into music from decades before they were born? Chuck and the Get Fresh Crew (which is seriously what they should consider renaming his band) opened up with a cover of Elton John's 1972 hit "Crocodile Rock," and followed it up with Helen Henny (who not only physically resembles my grandmother, but also shares her name) making an appeal to the nonexistant crowd for "an 80s song!"
Still, it was a pretty fun time, but nothing beats the moment as we headed for the door when we realized that a giant mechanical rat was singing Men At Work's "Who Can It Be Now?"
Yes. With the horns and all.