I love to read first person accounts written by people who have gone somewhere most of us never will, like outer-space, the South Pole, or the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. That’s why I’ve decided to write about a harrowing trip I recently made into a place that few adults ever have, or ever will, go… the inside of a McDonald’s PlayPlace.
I ended up boldly going where no man has gone before because I’d promised Annie I’d make her pancakes Sunday morning. Unfortunately, when I started to cook I realized I was all out of bisquick. Instead of letting the kid down, I called an audible and decided to take her to McDonald’s for some pancakes. (I also figured that Heather, who wasn’t feeling well, wouldn’t mind some quiet.)
I soon realized I’d made a major tactical error. You see, even though I’d driven past the Mcdonald’s for a year and a half, I’d never noticed it had an indoor PlayPlace. Annie, of course, lost all interest in pancakes the minute she saw the PlayPlace, and raced through her breakfast before pronouncing herself “All done.”
There were lots of kids climbing in and out of the PlayPlace when Annie ran up to it, but before she climbed in herself, she froze. She turned back to me, nervous.
“You come, Daddy.”
I looked to the sign next to the PlayPlace and saw it read: “Parents are welcome to play, too!” After a few moments of deliberation I went against my better judgement and figured, “Here goes nothing.” I should have known this was bad idea jeans based on the looks I received from the other parents as I took off my shoes. One dad even nudged his wife and pointed at me.
Once inside my mistake was clear. While there are jungle gyms and playhouses that comfortably fit adults (like this one), this PlayPlace was about 2/3rds the size. I’d only crawled a few feet inside before I started to feel claustrophobic.
I was about to grab Annie and head out when a bunch of kids scampered inside and glared at me.
“Go, Mister! Go!”
Since there was no way Annie and I could have gotten past the kids, I pulled and squeezed my way to the top level (an experience probably not all that dissimilar to being born). Up there it was even tighter quarters, and the first thing I saw was the “F” word scrawled on the wall. Further ahead someone else had written “Zombies Rule!” It was then I realized I must have been the first adult up there in who knows how long. In fact, I started to wonder when the last time an employee had been up there since no one had bothered to wipe off the “F” word.
Annie and I shimmied over to a window where I looked out to see the nudging dad staring up at me. As a joke, I put my hands on the glass and mouthed, “Help me!” He didn’t seem to find that very funny, though, perhaps because he thought I was serious. Actually, I kind of was – part of me worried the whole contraption was going to tumble down at any minute with me in it. I could hear McDonald’s’ lawyer saying, “Yes, the sign said adults could play too, but we didn’t think any six foot three, two hundred ten pound man would be dumb enough to go up there!”
At that point I told Annie we had to go back down. Of course, the only way out was down a slide, and half way down… I got stuck. A little girl behind me laughed and said, “You’re too big!” Awesome.
Annie is all about going back to “play,” but that’s not going to happen. Let’s just say I bought a Costco-sized box of bisquick to guarantee we don’t run out again anytime soon.