Sunday, February 21, 2010

In which I crumble

For 11 years 8 months and 23 days I have held the line, stood like (dare I say it?) a stone wall.

Today I cracked. I took one of my children to that unparalleled den of youthful iniquity, Chuck E Cheese.

Frankly, there is only so much one can do with a five year old in Roanoke, for two-plus hours, on a Sunday, during the snowiest, coldest winter this part of the world has seen in decades, if not centuries. And let me tell you, we've done it all. Museums? Closed. Library? Closed. Zoo? Small and cold. Bookstore? Corporate and packed. Fun, yummy coffee shops? Only one, and its gotten old. Parks, trails, creeks etc? Few and far between, not to mention covered in snow and mud.

Chuck E Cheese has not changed much at all since I last went, some nearly 30 years ago - still incredibly loud, jam-packed, and home to awful pizza. The stage show is still creepy (giant animatronic singing things? WHY!?) and the whole place is a fascinating window into American society.

One new feature is the preponderance of 'games' designed to require no skill and separate children from their tokens faster than ever before. Variations on the theme of dropping your token in a slot and hoping against hope that it'll fall in to some tiny hole and you'll win a zillion tickets. Its like the minors for future gambling addicts. The games seem to pay off just often enough that the kids see one person win and then want to try it themselves, only to sink too many tokens and still lose.

More disturbing then the fact of those games in and of themselves was the demographic of the people playing them. I saw only extremely obese children playing, and those kids only played that sort of game. Maybe it was just a weird confluence at the Roanoke Chuck E Cheese, but it made me wonder...

Sadly, there were far fewer Skee-Ball lanes than I remember, and about half of them didn't work. Ben and I did manage to find a good lane and really Skee some excellent Ball (what in the world to you call the act of playing Skee-Ball?!). I heard an interview with the newly crowned Skee-Ball World Champion on NPR recently so I was ready with some new techniques which really paid off - first 100,000+ round ever! (Tip: over 5'4"? CROUCH) (So that's another thing - when I was a kid Skee-Ball was just 10-50 pts - now its all multiples of 10,000. Why?)

Ben and I also dominated the basketball game. Homeboy has a wicked jumper.

Strangest of all was the pirate ship video game Ben played. The controller was a big ship's wheel, with buttons on the ends of the knobs, to shoot with, and a big button in the center to fire "Special Attacks". The special attacks popped up randomly and all but one were fairly normal - thye froze the enemy or made you invincible for a time or what ever. But one was called "Summon Bible" and it made a whole phalanx of blue-ish green glowing things materialize around you and then fly forward, shooting at your enemy. No other aspect of the game was remotely religious. And the "Summon Bible" attack didn't have any apparent religious content either... so. weird.

Caitlin was extremely disappointed to be studying Hebrew instead of Summoning Bible so we're going back again on Wednesday, after her Bat Mitzvah class. Just making up for lost time.

Plus, maybe I have a shot at the Skee-Ball championship next year.... just sayin.

1 comment:

Lynch Family said...

Love it! Evie went to a b-day party at Rocky Roccoco several years ago and was floored by the bizzareness of the games.

That being said, we are regulars at mini golf and bowling. And, I love Dance, Dance Revolution and pinball--just don't eat the food! LOL!