Random Ramblings

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Kiddie Vegas

Well I’ve had my first experience as a dad at Chuck E Cheese (CEC) yesterday. I remember going to CEC in Waukegan that had a lion dressed as Elvis that sang Elvis tunes it ruled to say the least. Well that CEC is now gone, probably been replaced by a nail salon or liquor store, but a new one has emerged n Gurnee (no surprise its in Gurnee huh). First off if you have no idea what CEC is it’s a pizza place that also has games that little kids, and not so little kids, can play. Basically you fork over some money for pizza and drinks and then they give you tokens to play games based on what you buy. Well I went in with a coupon for 20 free tokens and bought another 30 or so tokens there for like $10. Then I realized that I spent as much on pizza at CEC and tokens as I did at the Ram restaurant a mere two weeks ago. The only difference is that at The Ram we got two steak dinners, at CEC we got to see a robotic rodent.
I pick a table near the show area of CEC and Nate goes off and plays in the playland with a bunch of other kids in their socks. I don’t know about you but if they had adult playlands I would not go in them. Let’s face it there are some people with some nasty stank feet out there. As I sit there and wait for the fine culinary delight of CEC pizza (well get to this later) what do thine eyes see? Could it be? It is…it is. The one and only Chuck E Cheese gracing the CEC in Gurnee Illinois with his presence. Funny thing I didn’t hear the CEC chopper drop him off, must have had a business meeting in Chicago and decided to stop by. There he is in his blue shirt and blue jeans coming out of the kitchen no less, must have been doing some QC work back there. Then over the loud speaker, “Kids come up by the front and kid check in and dance with Chuck E!” Just an observation if Chuck E Cheese can be know as Chuck E I want to known as Kevin P from now on. Then as the kids go up to the front door to dance with his holiness Chuck E. Then sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” The whole performance involves some dancing by Chuck E and a high school student, priceless stuff. Then as the kids yell hooray at the end of the song the manager say, “The louder you yell ‘hooray’ the more tickets Chuck E gives out.” Since that gauntlet had been thrown down by the manger the kids just had to answer. A loud “hooray!” followed by Chuck E throwing out tickets, so many tickets it looked like a snow globe. The funniest part is that from the way these kids reacted it seemed like they were all crack addicts and they dropped one of their rocks and were fighting other crackheads to pick it up. Okay maybe not crack addicts, but you get the picture. Nate actually got quite a few tickets out of the melee and returned to the table just as the pizza arrived.
The pizza at CEC can best be described as an upgrade from a frozen pizza but not much. Sure it’s a little bland figuring a lot of kids eat there and can be picky so I understand. Its not the best pizza you’ll ever had not the worst either, the worst would be from a place at ISU back in the day Grog’s Pizza. I kid you not you could get a pizza there for $4. It was the only pizza place that stayed open late and with college drinking…well you get the idea. While we were eating we watched part of the entertainment spectacular known as CEC. It consisted of about 7 monitors and one 6 foot robotic rodent. Chuck E has a certain love for Beatles songs as we sat there he sang two Beatles tunes. At this point in the show Nate turns to me and said, “That’s a robot.” See there was a time when Nate was younger and we went to the Museum of Westward Expansion at the base of the Arch in Saint Louis and we told him one of the robots there was a real guy. He named him “Todd”, it was funny he thought it was a real guy but he’s too smart for that now.
After we ate it was on to the adolescent version of Las Vegas the CEC game area. CEC has a wide selection of games and you win tickets at, and then turn in the tickets for various trinkets made in Taiwan. The game area is just like Vegas except for the prostitution. We of course had to maximize the amount of tickets to get the better of the cheap crap. There are various games there’s a “Wheel of Fortune” game, basketball shooting game, and a “Grand Prize Game” type one. We played for a while and won about 300 tickets. After looking at the prize redemption area for at least 10 minutes Nate decided he wanted to keep his tickets to get some better Taiwanese crap next time. He asked if we could come back next week I told him we could come back in a while.

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