Guess what? Chuck E. Cheese is NOT a place where a “kid can be a kid.” More like, it’s a place where you get taken into a corner and hissed at if you act anything like a kid, for example, dropping trow in the middle of the rides section because you have to pee, or hugging Chuck E. a copious amount of times while he’s trying to sing happy birthday to the annoying fucking club of birthday brats that you could give two shits about. And so, you might gather that the Gusman attended a birthday celebration at this mysterious and exciting place where large, furry robots pretend to be in a sucky band and there is the promise of cake and ice cream around every corner. But it wasn’t my party, and that would be the first problem.
The birthday boy was Cooper, a five-year-old who belongs to some friends of mommy and daddy, and who is notorious for kicking my ass every time our families fucking get together. Once upon a time, mommy or daddy would intervene and tell him to be a little more gentle, to not punch me quite so hard in the face, or they would cheer me on and try to give me inside tips on how to get out from the choke-hold I was currently turning purple in. These days, though, a party with Cooper is more like being tossed into the Roman Colosseum with thirteen lions. I mean, I’m not entirely complaining. I like to get rough. I like to fight, and I like to get knocked around, but I like to have a standing chance once in a while. This kid just fucking goes to town. Trust me. My parents Flip-Cammed it when they were drunk one time. Pricks.
Anyway, so I have a love-hate relationship with the birthday boy. To make matters worse, I got lugged to Target in the morning with mom and Rat Baby on the day of the party to help pick out a present for him. If there are any sober, respectable mothers out there, could you please explain to me why you think it’s okay to take a three-year-old boy to go and pick out a present for someone else? Someone that suckerpunches you in the kidneys every now and then no less? Because I am at a loss as to why mommy spoke at me in a high, excited, helium voice like we were taking a flying unicorn ride to fucking Disney World or something. Buddy, aren’t you sooo excited to pick out a present for your friend Cooper? Nope. Not at all. Not unless you’re buying two of them. Actually, I’ll take both. To be honest, the whole ride to the mall, I had an orange matchbox truck that I was playing with that I kept asking mommy, Why can’t we give this to Cooper? We can just wrap it up. She laughed and tried to explain that we couldn’t give him something that we already had, that we had to buy him a new toy, but I stand firm that the orange matchbox truck would have been a perfect gift with some nice wrapping paper and a big pink bow. Then I could have kept the rocket launcher and the flying helicopter that I had to agonizingly carry out of the store tucked under both of my arms. That was brutal, by the way. When mommy asked me to carry them, I should have grinned winningly at her and told her to shove them both up her ass.
So that brings us to the party. I pretty much rolled out of my nap and into the minivan which is how mommy planned it, because I can be a bit of an anxious Andy when it comes to cake, rides, games, parties, etc. She did manage to squeeze in a phone call to the location we were headed before we got out the door to make sure they had alcohol. Shocking, I know. I was so excited that I forced her to count down the minutes from fifteen the whole ride there, and I have to say, I had a little Chuck E. boner when we pulled into the parking lot. This was gonna be great! We got into the lobby and Sienna and Uncle E were there, and then Cooper and his mom and dad showed up, and it was on like Donkey Kong. I had a cup full of gold tokens and a sweaty flush within minutes. Life was good. After we played for a while, it was time to eat pizza. Daddy had shown up from a late work engagement by now and we all headed back to the tables. This is when it hit me. It’s not the Gusman’s birthday. My indication? Cooper’s beautiful, gigantic, inflatable, red crown. I immediately declared I wanted one, and when daddy confirmed my worst nightmare–that only the birthday boy got to wear a crown–I pulled the crocodile tear crank. And then I howled woefully. I was removed from the situation promptly after mommy gave daddy a Charlie horse in his arm with her elbow, and pulled into a private corner to get a lame speech from daddy about how when it’s my birthday, I can have a crown. This would all have been good and nice were I born on the same day as Cooper, but because, in fact, I was born four months after him, this homily came across as meager and ineffectual; the whole time, I was looking past daddy at Cooper like he’d just walked out of my preschool classroom holding hands with my girlfriend, Eva Marie.
When I was finally released, it was time for Chuck E. Cheese to sing to all the birthday kids. Instantly, I was enamored with the giant rat in a baseball cap. I made him high-five me ten times before he even made it over to the Mexican kid’s table next to us, and out of the corner of my eye I could see mommy tensing up. I’m not sure if it was because I was bogarting the rodent, or because there is a two-drink limit at Chuck E. Cheese these days, but I think it was the former, because I saw her giving daddy “the look,” the one that says get your son under control. Daddy just looked back at her and shrugged his shoulders, and this sums up why I like him so much more. After ten minutes of dancing and singing and cake-cutting, it was time for all the birthday brats to enter the flying ticket machine thing. This is a wind-machine booth with tickets flying around inside, and you have one minute to grab as many tickets as you can, and I have to say, it’s the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. But do you think I was able to do it? Hell no. Another fucking zodiac curse. So I had to sit back and watch. And guess what? There’s a “1000 Tickets” blue ticket flying around in that machine–just one–and I’m pretty sure Cooper was at some underground fucking training camp for wind-machine ticket booths for weeks, because he snatched that thing up within seconds and death-gripped it until his time was up. Then he ran out squealing like a piglet to his mommy that he got the Blue Ticket! The Blue Ticket! and I feel like I should have tripped his ass when he ran by me. Good for fucking him. I’m sure they’ll make an Olympic event out of that shit someday and he’ll make his parents very proud.
Whatever. So that was my experience at Chuck E. Cheese. The chocolate cake was good. The rides were pretty sweet. I got my ass kicked in air hockey by the birthday boy and I cried some more. All in all, I would definitely go back. But only when that crown is mine, Chuck E.’s my bitch, and that booth is full of nothing but massage vouchers to the seediest place in Chinatown.