I arrived at Chuck E. Cheese with a slight headache and a bit dehydrated. My son and his three friends were euphoric and eager to enter the germ-infested establishment. My wife, upset with how slow I had driven the children down the interstate, was still yelling at me. I zoned her out and focused on the happiness of my four year old son. As we entered Chuck E. Cheese one of my son’s friends, Charles, told me he had to go poop and he had to go, “bad.” My wife laughed and told me I had to take him to the bathroom. The lady at the front door stamped all of our hands and told us to have a great time. It was at that exact moment I began to realize I was entering the gates of hell.
My wife escorted the kids to the birthday table and I took Charles to the bathroom. We entered the men’s room to discover that the stall was occupied. Charles began beating on the door, until I pulled him away and told him to wait his turn. He jumped up and down and told me he was going to soil himself. I contemplated letting him use the urinal, but decided the trash can would be better. I grabbed Charles by the waist and held him over the bucket. He pulled down his pants and began to poop. He started screaming that it burned and tried to get up. I held him firmly over the trash can until I was certain he had finished. He continued to fight me and screamed louder, yelling that the burning was getting worse. Suddenly, the stall door opened up and a man exited. He was wearing flip-flops, red sweat pants and a Brett Favre jersey. I didn’t know how we was going to react, so I was surprised when he laughed and said, “better lay off the spicy food little guy.” He placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to “hang in there,” and then left the bathroom. I realized he hadn’t washed his hands and had touched me, so I started to gag. After Charles was done pooping we both washed our hands. That’s when Charles told me, “my mom always screams when she poops. I’m just like mommy.” I was confused and distraught by the statement. I spent the next few minutes trying to make sense as to why his mother screamed during defecation.
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When we got back to the birthday table, I discovered that the Chuck E. Cheese employees had shorted us one cup for drinks. My wife informed me that she only requested enough for her and the children. I asked her if I could have a sip of her water and she said, “ew, gross.” Before I could go stand in line and ask for one extra cup, my wife handed me four game cards and told me to take the kids to play games. She sat down at the table and began to scroll through her phone. I took a defeated breath and proceeded to the gaming area. At first I looked around in amazement, astonished at how sophisticated the games had become since I was a kid. Of course, my amazement quickly turned to panic once I realized that all of the children wanted to play in the ball pit. There were already two children playing in the pit. One little girl was only wearing a diaper and had snot dripping down her face. The other kid, a toddler boy, was flush and had a severe cough. His mother called him over to the net and gave him a high dose of Dimetapp. He coughed most of it up all over the balls. I tried to coax the boys to play in a different area but they ignored me and entered the flu-infested ball pit.
I sat down at a table and watched the kids play. I peeked over at my wife, who was across the room, and saw her talking to the Chuck E. Cheese manager. The manager was about twenty-five, but looked like he had just graduated high school. But I could tell he had confidence and I knew my wife would find that attractive. I watched them flirt for a few minutes and then realized that Charles had exited the ball pit. I asked the other boys where he had gone, but nobody knew. I frantically searched the game floor until I finally spotted him playing Skee-Ball next to the man from the bathroom. I told Charles that he needed to tell me before running off, but he ignored me and chucked a ball into the wrong lane. “Jesus Christ, that kid has a fucking arm,” said the man from the bathroom. “That fucking kid could play for the goddamn Packers one day.” I smirked at the man, extremely shocked at how he talked around children. He spit on a ball and rolled it up the lane, dropping the ball into the corner hole. “Dropping fucking dime, after fucking dime,” he yelled. “Could you please not use that language around the children,” I asked. He looked at me with a blank stare. I don’t think he understood how to behave, so he didn’t truly grasp what I was asking of him. He laughed a little and spit on another ball, letting out a slight fart as he released the ball. I grabbed Charles and took him to another game.
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At this point the other children had joined us and my son was having a lot of fun. This made me happy and I snapped a photo of him with his friends. I immediately posted it on Facebook (I would end up only getting one “like” on this photo, from my Grandma who probably accidentally liked it). I looked over to see if my wife was paying attention but she was scrolling on her phone again, occasionally taking sips from her cup. This reminded me that I was still really thirsty, so I asked an employee if there was a drinking fountain anywhere and she just laughed at me and said, “I wish.” Her hospitality was exhilarating. The kids were now all playing a game in which they had to shoot high intensity assault weapons at a video screen. They really enjoyed the game and played it several times. My wife walked up and scolded me for letting them play a game with so much violence. I jokingly quoted The Beatles and said, “happiness is a warm gun.” She called me an asshole and went back to the table to scroll on her phone some more. We played games for a few more minutes and then went to eat some pizza. Each kid received two slices of delicious Chuck E. Cheese pizza and one cupcake. Of course, there wasn’t enough for me so I was forced to eat some spare sprinkles off the bottom of the tray. My son pointed at me and verbally insulted me, at which my wife looked up from her phone and started to laugh.
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After the kids ate their pizza an employee informed us that the Chuck E. Cheese mascot was sick and wouldn’t be able to perform the birthday dance. My wife was pissed and told me to do it. I chuckled and said, “no way.” She berated me in front of the young employee and basically told me to do it or she would divorce me. So of course, I followed the employee back to the storage area to put on the suit. The suit was visibly old and smelled of sweat. I couldn’t fit the suit on over my clothes so the employee advised me to get undressed and wear it over my underwear. She didn’t leave so I was forced to undress in front of her, getting down to nothing but my briefs and socks (which were not matching). I placed the suit over my pale body and struggled to walk out of the room. I was told to dance with the kids during the birthday song and then I would be done. Before I could even get to my son a group of junior high kids came up to me and started to make fun of me. One freckled boy kept asking me if I liked cheese. Another boy kept tapping me on the shoulder and then looking the other way. This one girl didn’t hold back. She started taking pictures of me and bragging about how she was going to make memes about how much of a pathetic loser I was. She reminded me of a younger version of my wife.
I finally made it to my son and he immediately started to cry in fear. I tried to shake his hand but he hid behind my wife who kept yelling at me for scaring him. Two other boys kept kicking my shins and telling me to dance, so I started to dance. The suit made it incredibly difficult, so my dance was extremely painful to watch. It was a mix of Irish step dancing and a man trying to screw a cat. It was bad and I didn’t stop until another mother asked me to stop and threatened to get the manager. That’s when some of the Chuck E. Cheese employees asked my son to get into the ticket blaster machine. It was a tall glass case that kids would stand in as tickets were blown around like some sort of wind tunnel. My son would have one minute to collect as many tickets as possible. Of course, my son said no, but pointed to me and told me to do it for him. Before I could signal no, my wife shoved me into the case and locked the door. It was extremely hot and I began to sweat uncontrollably. They turned the machine on and tickets started to obstruct my view of the children. I raised my mouse paws up to try to swat the tickets from my eyes. The employees thought I was gesturing to turn up the machine so they leaned over and cranked it to full blast. Immediately it became unbearable and I struggled to stand. My mouse head fell off and I began to faint, slamming my sweaty head against the glass as I fell to the floor. Right before I passed out I looked through the glass to see Charles shitting in another waste basket and although I could not hear him, I could see that he was screaming.
When I came to I was drenched in sweat and in my underwear. I was in the storage room again and the manager was standing over me with a clipboard. He told me that I had ruined the suit because I had urinated inside it after passing out. He informed me that I was liable for the damages and asked me if I was dehydrated because the pee stain was extremely yellow. I told him I was in fact dehydrated, but he ignored me and told me to get dressed. Still wearing piss-filled underwear, I got dressed and went back out to the party. The looks I got from people made me very embarrassed. One woman even covered her daughter’s eyes as I walked by. Another woman called me a pervert and gave me the finger before telling me that I would “burn in hell.” My wife handed me the game cards and told me to take the kids to get their prizes.
The line was outrageously long and I had to stand there with four impatient kids for almost forty-five minutes. Meanwhile my wife was flirting with the manager and having a great time. We finally got to the prize desk, only to have five kids cut in line and spend ten minutes trying to figure out what they wanted more, a piece of candy or a rubber ball. Finally, my kids were ready to pick out their prizes. They all asked for the biggest prizes available, even after I told them they only had fifty tickets on their cards. They were disappointed when they discovered that fifty tickets only bought you a plastic spider that hardly fits around your finger. My son threw it to the ground and told me he hated me. As we left the line I saw the man in the Brett Favre jersey walk away with a big screen television. He winked at me, belched as loudly as possible and rubbed his belly. As I walked back to the birthday table I overheard the Dimetapp mother telling another mother that all her kids tested positive for Influenza B but that she had decided to bring them to Chuck E. Cheese to spite her “liberal” doctor. At this point, I had had enough and walked over to the soda dispenser.
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I placed my head underneath the Sprite spout and pushed the button, dispensing cold Sprite into my mouth. It was the most glorious moment of my life. I was at peace. I closed my eyes and chugged. My mind began to go into a meditative state. I muted out all of the noise and the score from Titanic began playing in my head. I felt like a god; the god of Sprite. I felt a tap on my shoulder, opened up my eyes and saw the manager standing in front of me. He handed me a paper and said, “here’s the bill for the damage to the suit, and you need to leave immediately.” I kept guzzling the Sprite and refused to flinch. He smiled and then unplugged the machine. I reluctantly took the paperwork and walked over to my children. I asked the kids if they had fun and they all rolled their eyes and made gagging sounds. My wife told me it was my fault and that I should have done a better job organizing the party. Then, the manager came over and told my wife that if she wanted to stick around a little longer that he could let the kids stay after hours and play on the games for free. They all celebrated and my son gave him a hug and said, “I wish you were my dad.” My wife rubbed my son’s head and said, “I know son, I know, me too.” I looked at her like I had just been stabbed in the chest, but I could tell in her eyes that she felt no love for me anymore.
A few minutes later we got a text from Charles’ mother stating that he needed to come home. My wife told me to do it and that the manager would bring her and the kids home later that night. I picked up Charles and walked him out the door. Charles was worn out from a long evening of playing and he rested his head on my shoulder. I rubbed his back and felt a sense of love from the little guy. But then, out of nowhere, he started to scream at the top of his lungs and I knew that I had to drive this kid home with a shit-filled pair of pants. I placed him in the car and buckled him up. The smell was something awful. I started the car and drove away, refusing to look back. About half way home I got a voicemail from my lawyer stating that I needed to come by on Monday morning to sign divorce papers that my wife had filed. I drove Charles home, only to have his father yell at me for not getting him to a bathroom in time. When I got home later that night, I immediately opened up a cold beer and turned on the television. The first thing that came on was a commercial for Chuck E. Cheese. I picked up a chair and threw it at the television, but missed and shattered a picture of my wife and I on our wedding day. I’ve never been back to Chuck E. Cheese since.