Today is my nephew’s 6th birthday and to celebrate without going too crazy before his party on Saturday, my sister decided to take him to Craig’s Cruisers after school and to invite me along. This decision was fueled by his propensity for pouting, but also apparently by her deep-rooted masochism. Craig’s Cruisers is not fun. I’m sure it is for children, but as an adult I find it to be my own personal hell. I went, of course, because he’s my nephew and I love him. But I didn’t have to like it.
I walked in to a near-empty “fun-zone” to meet my sister, her fiance and the birthday boy and expected to see them right away. They were nowhere. I walked around the gaming floor (or whatever the non-casino word is for the place with all the video games) and tried to look like I definitely didn’t want to kidnap a child. Still nowhere. And there is legitimately no way for a childless adult to look innocent while wandering the entirety of Craig’s Cruisers alone. I cut my losses and called my sister. She was just settling in to play laser tag. Great. Now I had alone time to kill and the only places to sit were in direct eyelines of suspicious teen employees. There was nothing I could do. I was resigned to assumed pedophilia as I perched on the strangely molded seat of a squirt-gun game. I had to accept the stares because there is nothing that screams “stranger-danger” more than someone insisting out loud that they’re not interested in children.
After several long minutes of swiping absentmindedly at my dead phone I was enveloped in the tiny dude arms of my nephew as he screamed, “Auntie!!” and I made eye contact with every teen who had narrowed theirs at me earlier. I wandered off with the birthday boy and my sister and brushed the judgment of the surly teens off my non-creeper shoulders.
We kicked off the gaming with some Dance, Dance Revolution and embarrassed ourselves sufficiently, then moved on to the buffet for some terrible, terrible food-like substances. In the corral that is the buffet area of Craig’s Cruisers, everyone forgets how to walk like a human. Nobody can see beyond their desire for cardboard pizza and questionable “alfredo” sauce and they will walk directly into you repeatedly. All of them. I went right to the salad bar to try and eat something that had as little to do with the esteemed Craig’s Cruisers chefs as possible. My sister, her fiance and the birthday boy had other ideas. They went hard on unidentifiable pizza and even some slimy looking chicken legs. You want meat sauce? They have it. Coagulated meatballs? No problem. Randomly placed green beans? Don’t worry, they’re overcooked and under-seasoned. You’re in luck. I don’t want to overshare, but one or all of them will definitely have diarrhea tonight.
Before getting too physical on the ropes course, we eased into the after-dinner fun by trying fruitlessly to win big-ticket prizes from impossible games. A pre-teen kid basically shoved us out of the way to try his hand and I ever-so-hilariously told him that if he won the Beats headphones he had to give them to me, and followed it immediately with the words, “just kidding”. He looked at me with an exasperated air and said, “That would be a little ridiculous, wouldn’t it?” Uh…you’re ridiculous, Justin Weiner. Settle down. I wasn’t about to damage my credibility so soon after proving my innocence to the hawkeyed employees so I just walked away with a head shake.
The flat joke wasn’t an isolated incident. My sister and nephew tried their hand at the ropes course and when the fresh-faced youngster working the station asked my sister to pull the two straps between her legs and hand them to him she asked him if he’d rather do it, with a quick laugh. He shot back that he was not allowed to do that and didn’t even crack a smile for my cute sister’s sexual harassment. What has happened to the youth of America?!
I spent a total of $13.99 on the buffet and various games that assured me I was receiving tickets in return for the approximately five seconds of play time, but between the man with an ass that would put Kim K. to shame and the teamwork it took for my sister and I to retrieve her phone from inside the fenced-in go-kart track, I’d say I got my money’s worth.
Everyone at Craig’s Cruisers hates fun. It’s a giant abyss of funlessness but I’m not sure if the people go in already hating good times or if the place itself sucks it out of them. In the end, I guess it’s a chicken/egg situation and as it turns out, I don’t care at all.