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The 7 Phases of a Chuck E. Cheese Visit

My daughter recently attended a party at Chuck E. Cheese, and during that party, I came to grips with something: I loathe Chuck E. Cheese with a white hot and eternal hatred. Why? Because of the transformation virtually every child undergoes while there. It’s unbearable.

Like many of you, I’ve witnessed this transformation time and time again. Only this last time, instead of turning away as I am won’t to do, I examined the metamorphosis as closely as possible in hopes that I might at least better understand it. And in so doing, I’ve identified seven different phases that occur during a typical visit. Here they are in chronological order:

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  • The dipping of the toe 1 of 7
    The dipping of the toe
    Hesitancy accompanies most children when they first set foot on the Chuck E Cheese game floor. Which should come as no surprise, as during these initial moments they're desperately trying to find their niche within this exciting, new world. Accordingly, many transcendental issues must be carefully considered. Am I a skee-baller? Or am I better suited at whacking the hell out of those moles that keep popping up?
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  • The Vegas Effect 2 of 7
    The Vegas Effect
    The Vegas Effect begins mere minutes after the dipping of the toe and continues until departure. You'll know it by your child's aggressive and unruly behavior. You see, Chuck E. Cheese is Vegas for kids, only without Wayne Newton. All the beeping and buzzing, the flashing of lights, the use of tokens (dare I say chips?), the gaming, the payoffs, the ever-rowdier behavior, all either cause or effect of this second and predominant phase. Kinda surprised Chuck E. Cheese doesn't pump oxygen into their game rooms. (Wait. Do they?)
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  • Marxism 3 of 7
    Marxism
    Two classes of children quickly emerge. The dominant ones with six-inch stacks of tickets and the under-appreciated comrades who have worked very hard to earn but a meager few. Inevitably, there will be tension between the two classes. And it's only a matter of time, friends, before a few resourceful proletariats pool their tickets together and purchase the most coveted prize, then sell it to some bourgeois fool for twice the market value, and thus the uprising will have begun.
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  • Life, liberty and the pursuit of crappiness 4 of 7
    Life, liberty and the pursuit of crappiness
    But this isn't the Communist Manifesto of 1848. It's the Chuck E. Cheese on Kingston Pike. And, as such, capitalism, and thus the American spirit, are both alive and well. And the Haves only mock the Have Nots because they know they'll have far better choices at the Prize Area. Sadly, these fortunate ones are oblivious to the fact the market they've cornered is riddled with worthless crap, the majority of which fashioned out of cheap plastic in some dimly lit factory in Taiwan.
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  • Decisions, decisions, decisions 5 of 7
    Decisions, decisions, decisions
    Yet all children agonize endlessly over said crap, as they try to get every drop out of their 850 tickets, right down to the last chunk of 25. Alright, kid. It's the vampire teeth or the troll with pink hair. Decisions. We've all got 'em. So nut up, make one and get on with it.
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  • (Il)legal tender(ness) 6 of 7
    (Il)legal tender(ness)
    A phase experienced by kids who don't have enough tickets for that special prize. That is until Mommy or Daddy purchases the additional tickets needed for Junior's dream toy, crap though it may be. Purchasing Chuck-certified merchandise with cash to keep your kid happy? Legal tender, perhaps, but illegal tenderness to be certain. Try a tablespoon of tough love and maybe the next time Junior toes the pop-a-shot line, he won't be such a wuss.
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  • The blood on your hands 7 of 7
    The blood on your hands
    Congratulations. Your child just converted 25 of your hard-earned dollars into a whoopee cushion, some invisible ink and a bag of plastic monkeys whose arms interlock. And as you inspect the monkeys on the way to the car, it finally dawns on you. Not only did you underwrite a worthless expedition that spawned class struggle, but you've also just incentivized some third-world trinket hustler to continue violating child labor laws. Well done.
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