Saturday, June 1, 2013

Playplaces- A flashback to my childhood.

         The multicolored tubular monstrosities called "play places" found at  Chuck E Cheese, McDonald's and Kids Space were the light of my eyes and the love of my life during elementary school. I lived for those flamboyant labyrinths. They were the apple (or um macaroni and cheese) of my eye. I recall the glory of the color tinged light and the slight feeling of claustrophobia that you got when you were in them- along with a the constantly grimy feeling of those things.

         I remember what it was like to drive by one as a kid- my face was pulled flat against the minivan window pane by gravity of the play place. It freaking called to me, and glowed, and the hallelujah chorus played.  Play places were the holy grail of childhood- I would have gone on a pilgrimage to get to one, and would have fought a crusade to own one.
I would have traded my little brother to go to one. ( I would also have traded my little brother for a piece of bubblicious bubble gum, that stuff was that might not be saying much. Love ya bro.)

Various observations about play places:
1. It is Lord of the Flies up there man. At 8 or 9 feet in the air - in small plastic tubes that adults do not fit into very well Children reign supreme. (Which is another way of saying that primitive law rules. The first and only command of which is this: "If they look like they could beat the crap out of you, then you have to get out of the way.")
Inevitably this situation would occur: The Plastic Tunnel Face-Off

The weak scoot backwards, the strong crawl forwards.
Or you can look each other in the eyes for an awkward second and then pass each other by crawling on the sides- this is the recourse of pacifists.
My little sister sister would go into one of these things and come out with ten best friends. I would go into one of these things and come out saying "Veni, Vidi, Vici. This is my kingdom."

2. It looks like a Hamster Cage, for children. This is also part of my childhood memories of these things- I was constantly plagued by the question "what is around the corner?" It could be anything. It could be a freaking hamster.
And here we have an Alice in Wonderland sort of issue: Is this hamster big? Or did that kid shrink? I have no idea.

Revisiting these experiences, my adult self has a couple of questions:
1. Does someone clean them ever?
2. Do the smallest employees have to crawl through and clean them out?
3. Wouldn't the unwashed french-fry hands of a billion elated children make the play-places ceaselessly gross? I can picture some little kid sneezing, looking down at the snot cover plastic floor and then crawling merrily on its way.
4. How many teenage McDonald's employees have made out in there?
5. What if a person found out that they were conceived after hours in a McDonald's play place? Maybe this is the well kept back story for Ronald McDonald.

This calls for a temporary digression into the origins of Ronald McDonald:
"One night Betty Ann McDonald (she had gotten a job in her father's fast food restaurant chain but was suited more to burger flipping than management) and a young country teen, Zeek, were left to close up the restaurant. Teenage passions ran high-and a red haired fast food mascot was conceived in that very plastic tube structure. McDonald's was a part of his life from his first instant- and Ronald McDonald lived on to represent the McDonald's franchise for as long as his arteries held up."

6. Do you regret that last question? You should probably feel ashamed of yourself.
Yes. However, I am not ashamed enough to remove it from this post.

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