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Birthdays and Large Rodents

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James Martin
February 1, 2013

The other day we celebrated our youngest's birthday; she turned nine. We met her just shy of her second birthday and were able to celebrate it with her at a barren orphanage in Uralsk, Kazakhstan. Her third birthday, we celebrated as a family in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. This year we celebrated with six of her girlfriends at Chuck E. Cheese. All three involved Karina and large rodents; I am confident a therapist in thirty years will find that relevant.

Chuck E. Cheese, by decibel and pitch, must be one of the loudest places in the civilized world. Bells and whistles, bad music and flashing lights, painfully inundate the psyche of everyone over twelve. You would think that such a racket would keep the rodents away, but like the music from the Pied Piper of lore, it actually attracted the oversized rodent. And the girls were excited to see him, especially because he was giving away free tokens and tickets.

We all agree it is bad to see giant rodents in restaurants. We also teach our children to not take things from strangers. So by combining two negatives, we get a positive? Naturally to make that positive happen, we pay lots of money for the giant rodent to pass out free tokens and tickets to little children. Reminding me that the only thing more expensive than free tokens from Chuck E. Cheese are free services from the government.

A long time ago a friend off mine was dating someone who was fired from Chuck E. Cheese. At the time he was fired, he was told that he was "just not Chuck E. Cheese material." I find that to be the epitome of the term "Epic Failure." How does one recover from such a professional set back? I think that he ultimately went into politics.

A new feature for the birthday girl was the ticket blaster. This is a clear plexiglass sealed chamber with hundreds of tickets blowing around while the occupant tries to catch as many tickets as possible. Imagine if Dorothy's tornado was in a tube and instead of landing in Oz, she was abused by tickets whipping around her like a swarm of flying monkeys. The whole process was like watching some bad 1950s television game show. Karina did well, but she was still finding tickets when she changed into her pajamas hours later.

At the conclusion of the party it was time to cash in the tickets for valuable prizes. It was a shopping bonanza for colorful treasures of bracelets, cotton candy, erasers, blowup microphones, and rainbow slinkys. All of the kids had a great time and it was fun to share in their excitement. (And the employees were saints as the girls took their time choosing their prizes.)

With six kids, we have spent more than our fair share of time there and they have all been good times. I think this was my last time at Chuck E. Cheese, unless my oldest and his fiancÚ agree to move the rehearsal dinner. However, I am glad we celebrated Karina's birthday there; one more thing off my bucket list.



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