Sweet 16

October 22, 2007
Happy Birthday! Those two words lead always seem to lead to a birthday party. For the younger generation, this includes running around screaming and throwing cake at each other. For older generations, birthday celebrations are filled with alcohol the realization that you are now one year closer to dying. Either way you choose to celebrate, birthday parties can be fun, but only if you are the one opening the presents.

This last Saturday, my little sister, who isn’t that little at all, decided she wanted to have her birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Her name is Laura, and on September 30, she turned 16 years old. Chuck E. Cheese is a great place for parties when your turning 6, but it’s a totally different story when your five years too old and fifty pounds too heavy to play on any of the climbing equipment.

Now, I am usually a good sister, and when Laura tells me she wants me to come to her party instead of one of my friend’s, I say sure, I’ll go for a while, but I only agree to go because it gets me brownie points when I need to borrow money or clothes.

Well, Saturday night rolls around and of course, Laura calls me to remind me to head on over to the party. I haven’t been to Chuck E. Cheese’s in quite some time, so I kind of forgot that after hearing screams for so long, you get one of the worst headaches in your entire life. Well, I was quickly reminded of that fact the second I walked through those ugly, red framed doors.

I walked slowly up the roped aisle, looking all around; I could already spot my sister and her friends. The grouchy little man standing at the rope slowly unlatched it and let me through. Sirens went off, lights flashed and flickered and music blasted. Kids ran around screaming waving their tickets in their hands. “Count them, count them!” came the cry from the prize counter. Looking at the employees, I started to feel bad for them because they had to deal with this on a regular basis. But, whatever, they applied for this job; they knew what they were getting into. My sympathy for them quickly went away.

The one thing I remember the most about Chuck E. Cheese wasn’t the games, it was the huge, gray rat they called Chuck E.. He’d come out from the back rooms just as I was beginning to have fun, and ruin everything. He scared the crap out of me and every time he came out, I’d run to the table and hide there until my parents said that the coast was clear.

Well, that was years ago, and now, I wasn’t going to let some stupid rat costume scare me. Just incase though, I brought a friend with me. I’m not really an independent person, so when I show up somewhere, I always have somebody with me. Tonight, it was Sydney, and she wanted to get in and out of there as fast as we could.

I found my mom sitting at a table covered with pizza, cake, and presents. She gave me a cup full of tokens and told me to go play some games. So, I took off towards the game area. Children ran in every direction, and it was hard to get anywhere when you were constantly having kids run into your legs.

I made it to that one game where you try to roll a brown ball up a ramp and into one of the holes for points. I forgot the name of it, but it was one of my favorites and pretty much the only original game still there. So, I slipped a token into the slot and grabbed a ball. I used to be pretty good at this game, but over the years, my skills have gone a little downhill. I held on to the ball, and swung my right hand back, building up speed to let it fly, when all of a sudden, my hand hit something hard and came to a sudden stop. I turned around just in time to see a little boy grab his head and start to bawl. Shit! I’d only been there two minutes and I already hurt someone. I tried to tell him I was sorry, but the boy just cried even harder and took off to find his mommy.

The surrounding kids and parents took a second to throw me a bad look. Even Sydney stopped her game and looked at me. Well, what was I going to do? I tried saying sorry. So far, this party was turning out to be just as bad as I expected. At least it wasn’t turning out worse than I expected. Oh well, I wasn’t going to let some little kid get in the way of my game, but after I injured one little boy, I had to look behind me every time I had a ball, just to make sure I didn’t whack another innocent kid.

Syd and I left the mini bowling game, and walked around the area, checking out the new games. We spotted a picture taking machine that printed your photo on cards. And it only cost one token! Well we were there faster than you could say fast and had already taken our first picture. We each still had a full cup of tokens, and planned to use them all at this machine. We took turns taking crazy, stupid pictures and watched them stick on the screen, and then seconds later have them printed on a card. It was fascinating. We were at least eight years older than all the kids here were and we were fascinated with this one picture taking machine.

After taking twenty or so pictures, the machine ran out of cards and I had to go get an attendant. Well, some other kids had taken notice to our amazing machine and had expected us to leave when it ran out. Oh no, no, no, my little friends, they had thought wrong. As soon as I stood up, a little girl took my seat. I grabbed an attendant and as he put more cards in, sat down and slid the girl off. She wasn’t expecting this and hit the floor with a thud.

Sydney and I continued to take pictures until all of our tokens were gone. By this time, there was a waiting line of kids and I’m very sure everybody there hated us.

We decided it was time to go after this, so we turned in our hard earned tickets and got some tootsie rolls. The party wasn’t as bad as I had thought and now, I have many pictures to remind me of that night. It was fun to go back and let out my inner kid again. I’m definitely thinking about having my 18th birthday party there. I think I’m gonna.

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