Monday, July 24, 2006

Near Death Experience for Chuck E Cheese

It's every parents nightmare. They ask their kids what they want to do for their birthday and the "precious little children" opt to go to Chuck E Cheese Pizza. I know how much parents hate it - from personal experience. I use to work there and one of my main duties was hosting birthday parties. I was their personal host for an hour and a half. It was awful. The parents were more than likely grumpy as the realization hit them they would be spending much more than planned for little Jimmy's special day. It's bad enough just to take your kids there and have them yelling and screaming and whining for more tokens. What's even worse is having 20 other peoples' kids there. It never ended. It was one Exedrin headache after another. One of my duties was dressing up in the Chuck E costume and walking around hugging the kids. Ironic isn't it? At furry rat making up for love their parents never gave them. Anyway, that usually wasn't too bad, until some brat came up to me with what I thought was a friendly handshake, only to find out that he secretly mashed his chewing gum into my furry paw. I was also punched in the crotch more times than you can imagine. But, I had passive-aggressive ways to get revenge on the little twerps. Like the time I was walking down the isle, leading a train of about 20 children, marching happily along through the dining room. Unfortunately, Chuck E's shoes are about five times as big as mine and a little trickier to walk in. Consequently, the overly large red shoe caught on a chair and sent me tumbling to the floor. The train of children suddenly came to a screeching halt as Chuck E's head rolled down the isle and his body lay limp next to the tipped-over chair. Their happy little smiling faces instantly became hardened with fear, for Chuck E may have died in their minds at that moment. But, I knew the death of Chuck E would be far too traumatic for these small, virgin eyes. So, I slowly slithered along the floor on my furry belly until I reached my jumbo sized head. As I looked more closely, I realized the horrific fall had broken off the two front teeth from Chuck E's plastic face and cracked the left ear. But these were the least of my concerns - I had to pull through...for the children. I couldn't stop now; I must show them that Chuck E lives! So, I slipped the head back on, stood up quickly, and with my plastic smile and missing teeth, confidently continued my joyous march around the dining room. That's one birthday those children will always remember.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Times we made mom cry

My family often went camping 4-5 times each summer when I was younger. One year, we went to a spot just up the mountain from Vail, CO. My brother and I had wondered up into the forest and had been playing up there for hours. You see, we found a tree that had fallen over onto a rock so we walked up the tree, then grabbed the top of a nearby aspen tree and jumped. I think it was a good 20-30 feet down, but aspen trees tend to be very flexible, so the strength of the tree's resistance made it "safe". What can I say -we were boys, about 12 & 13 years old at that point. I honestly can't believe I survived my childhood. Anyway, as the sun went down we decided we better start making our way back to camp. We couldn't believe how quickly it was getting dark and before we knew it, it was pitch black. So, we wondered down the mountain until we finally hit a road, realizing we were still quite a ways from our campsite. As we're walking up the road, suddenly a man (whom we've never met) comes running toward us and asks in a half-scared, half-angry voice, "ARE YOU CHAD AND TOBY!?!?" This was the point we knew we were going to be in trouble. When we finally made it back to our campsite with the escort of Mr Perky McFinderson, my dad was around the picnic table with the park ranger and other concerned campers and my mom was in the tent crying. Whoops. I guess they hadn't heard yet that we were alive. All kids make their moms cry - Clay Aiken's mom probably cries everyday. Thankfully my brother and I tried to not "bring on the waterworks" too often.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stuntmen - make that stuntman

In response to my brother's comment on "Hair Care Holiday", let me further explain the laundry basket and staircase game. Basically, we were risk-takers growing up. He was the risk, and I was the taker. I would say we were stuntmen, but it was actually just me who did the stunts, so I guess it's just stuntman. Being a very small child, I decided to show my brother (Chad) how cool it was that I could actually fit into our laundry basket. I got in, closed the lid and was so proud of my new talent. As I climbed out, Chad said, "Wow - that's really cool! Show me again" Like a moron, I climbed back in, closed the lid - but this time Chad held the lid down and picked up the basket. I was laughing, not knowing I was now the candidate for "today's stunt". He then carefully set the basket at the top of the staircase and said, "Don't move". Unfortunately, half the basket was hanging off the stairs and my weight was not distributed evenly. Within a matter of seconds, I was tipping toward the staircase (about 20 stairs). It was actually fun for the first tenth of a second - then the basket hit the fifth stair down and shot me out like a biscuit from those pressurized cans. I believe I got some pretty good air before I hit the 12th stair, and finally the wall at the bottom of the landing. Chad thought I was perhaps dead as it took me a minute to orient myself and readjust my eyeglasses. He was laughing pretty hard, but deep down I think he felt bad.
I've sketched a rough rendering of the event called "The Laundry Basket and Staircase Game" for your enjoyment.