Today was a pretty low-key day considering it was Monkey Man's birthday. We usually have a little throw-down complete with ponies, jello wrestling, and strippers the same weekend of his actual birthday, but since he had his tonsillectomy and the strippers' deposit was nonrefundable, we decided to err on the side of caution and have his birthday party the first weekend of December instead.
To an adult, this would seem logical. To a five-year-old, not so much. We spent the entire weekend explaining to him over and over that yes, his birthday was today - but the party is in two weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat. I still don't think he has really grasped it.
So in a weak moment, I made two fatal mistakes:
1. I got a store-bought birthday cake, complete with ten inches of the sugariest white frosting ever and 3 frosted balloons that usually send every birthday party I've been to with that specific cake end in a sugar-high frenzy of horrible magnitude.
2. I RSVP'd that Monkey Man could attend a birthday party tonight for his friend Lindsey. At the most hated place on earth, Chuck E. Cheese.
See, this is where y'all come in. Why didn't you tell me to put the crack pipe down and think about what I was doing to my life?
The birthday cake wasn't bad. He ate about 2 bites of it and then went upstairs and slept for three hours. Joey and I demolished the balloons and then proceeded to torture the dog all afternoon just for the fun of it.
My CEC nightmare started promptly at 6 PM. Thank God my friend Shannon was there with her son Peyton. Apparently, Peyton and Monkey Man were the only two kids from The Most Expensive Preschool on the Planet to be invited to the party - all the other kids were relatives of the Birthday Girl. Now, I'm not what you would call a social snob - obviously the fact that I work in construction pretty much shoots all of that right in the ass - but damn, I was pretty shocked at the birthday party attendees.
Joey, Shannon and I were the only adults there who were not fully decked out in either NASCAR apparel, Harley Davidson gear, or some form of camoflage clothing. And I'm talking real camo, not something from Hollister.
Lindsey was the only girl there at the party except for a cousin that apparently she was forced to invite. She whispered to me in the middle of the party, "I wanted to invite all my boy friends but my mommy said I had to invite Megan. She's no fun because she only plays with dolls." Yes, my girl Lindsey is a total tomboy. Peyton and Monkey Man are her best friends, she brings Hot Wheels to school for show and tell, and she reminds me so much of myself at her age that it's not even funny.
Lindsey's dad sports a mullet. The back of the mullet, which was stylishly pulled into a ponytail, was two feet long. Two muthafuckin' feet long. Quite impressive. Mom wasn't there - apparently she was sick - but every time I've seen her pick Lindsey up at school she looks like she just rolled out of the double-wide in her El Camino to come pick her kid up. (Which, by the way, the El Camino is the vehicle version of a mullet...business in the front, party in the back.)
Once we got to talk to Lindsey's grandma and her dad a bit, I realized that these are people just like folks we know from "back home". They were really sweet and nice, despite the fact that I felt like we'd been dropped by a tornado into a trailer park up on The Pike.
CEC was the typical nightmare - not the worst visit I've ever had, not the best either. Some of the kids in there tonight were brattier than I'd ever seen before, but the kids still managed to have a good time and no one got mugged by an older kid for tokens. Don't even get me started on the line at the prize counter, which was total chaos.
After enduring the noise for almost 2 hours, we adjourned to the steakhouse that's at the other end of the strip mall and sucked down some margaritas and a few filets too. They couldn't make those drinks strong enough to block out the horror of Chuck. As we walked out to the Pimp Mobile, Monkey Man thanked us for bringing him and asked if we could come back to CEC tomorrow.
Tomorrow? Try a month that begins with N, ends with R, and doesn't have a B in it, and you've got your answer. NEVER.