On Saturday, I entered the ninth circle of hell. My nephew’s sixth birthday party was being held at Chuck E. Cheese. Walking in the front door by myself, the college aged bouncer asked if I was coming in alone. “Yeah, I’m thirty-five years old and thought I’d drop in for lunch.” What did he think? The kid gave me some weird look like I was a pedophile scoping out prey so I thought it more prudent to explain what I was doing there. My nephew’s birthday. Finally, he let me in.

Upon entry, I heard the clanging of skee balls, dinging of pin ball machines and squeals of delight coming from snotty nosed kids. I passed adults eyes glazed over staring out in space shelling out handfuls of tokens to wild-eyed children. From the looks of it, these adults had had the forethought to take a handful of Valium before entering Chuck E. Cheese allowing them to zone out to their happy place. Something I was wishing I had done right about then.

Thankfully, I bumped into my sisters. I was starting to look like a weirdo wandering among the games and kids alone. Melinda and Joanna escorted me back to the party area. Our party had been given primo seating for the show. What a blessing! We were closest to the stuffed robotic version of Chuck E. Cheese who kept appearing from behind the purple velvet curtain every so often singing his greatest hits scaring the kids half to death.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse out came pizza and cake. “Crap, I should have eaten lunch before I came,” I whispered. There was no way I was wasting calories on funky kiddie cheese pizza. Overhearing me, Moma suggested I try Chuck E. Cheese’s apparently delicious salad bar. As I walked over to it, I saw a herd of eight year old boys grab a handful of cherry tomatoes straight from the salad bar and pelt each other with them. So much for salad. Filled with eight year old boy cooties, the salad bar had to be disease ridden.

Cake time. Greyson blew the candles out on his teenage mutant ninja turtle cake along with half his little friends. Spit flying as the flames disappeared. Well at least, I won’t be tempted by cake. In all likelihood, germs from every cold, flu and stomach virus circulating Pleasant View Elementary had just landed upon the chocolate cake with white icing. No cake for me.

Just when I thought I was safe, here came cupcakes. Afraid there wouldn’t be enough cake for everyone, Melinda had bought a dozen cupcakes just in case. Still in the box from the bakery, little vanilla cupcakes with just the slightest hint of almond flavoring topped with white icing made from the perfect mix of Crisco and powdered sugar. I couldn’t help myself. I was starving and on edge from the incessant sounds of kids screaming, bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. I had a cupcake to calm my nerves. As the vanillaoey goodness met my taste buds, I felt the same relief a smoker feels from the first drag off a cigarette, nicotine and smoke swirling in their lungs. Ahhhhhhh.

When the Chuck E. Cheese mascot and his helper pulled out the ninja turtle piñata, I took it as my cue to leave. When the candy started flying out of the busted up ninja turtle, I didn’t know if I could stop myself from knocking the group of kindergartners out-of-the-way to score a Kit Kat. I bolted for the door.

After convincing the pimple faced doorman I was not deserting a kid leaving him to wander the basketball hoops and skee ball machines at Chuck E. Cheese for all of eternity, he let me leave.

Finally, I had endured enough.

1 Corinthians 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
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