As a service to my loyal readers (Hi Joe! Hi Bubba!), I’d like to address a mystery of life. No, Mr. Editor, this is neither the time nor place to explain where babies come from, so please stop asking. Instead, I will answer a question that has vexed modern man: How to have a pleasant visit at Chuck E. Cheese. For those unaware, this is a chain of pizza restaurants geared towards children. Other than special occasions, such as a child’s birthday or the desire for a splitting headache, no sane adult would choose such a restaurant. Although they do serve food, it’s mainly a loud, nerve-jangling amusement arcade. Kids love it. Parents, not so much.
One tactic is to take aspirin ahead of time. The place has the potential to make your head explode, so definitely be prepared. Aspirin alone won’t cut it, so there’s more to my advice before piling the kids in the Jeep for a visit (note the clever way I tied a seriously off-topic subject back into the world of Jeeps. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back).
The heart of my advice, and this applies to more than just Chuck E. Cheese, is to leave on a high note. Don’t wait until the sugar high burns off and the tantrums start. Bundle up the kids while they’re still knee-deep in fun and head for the exit. Rather than listen to the sobs about the plastic back scratcher that broke before you even left the parking lot, talk about what fun everybody had and get them primed for the next visit. Fortunately, most young children have a poor concept of time. If you don’t offer a specific timeframe, you won’t technically be lying if you plan to wait at least 30 years before returning.
"With this note, I must sign off"
On the subject of leaving on a high note, this will be my last column. I mentioned this to one of my brothers and he said, “What high note?” After I offered a bit of thoughtful reasoning (he’d probably call it pleading), he finally conceded that even if I’d never actually reached a high note, at least I wasn’t at rock bottom. Just for the record, I should state he once folded up my young self in a sofa bed, leaving me to be rescued by our dear, prematurely gray-haired mother. I should also mention, simply for historical accuracy, that he started nearly every fight we had because he’d hit back first.
It is with a heavy heart that I bid adieu, but my motivation is simple: Garfield. Have you read this comic strip recently? I’m not sure who does, yet it runs year after year. Now think back to The Far Side or Calvin & Hobbes. I don’t dare compare myself to their comic genius, but I will steal one thing from them: Saying goodbye before wearing out one’s welcome. Blame it on my oversized ego, but I’d rather hear I’m missed than listen to rumblings about why I’m still here.
I knew it was time at least a year ago. As a purveyor of high-quality jokes, I was having trouble remembering what I’d already unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Could I reword a good joke and reuse it? How much time should elapse before recycling humor? When I considered designing a spreadsheet to keep track, it was time.
Even more worrisome, what about those beauties I hadn’t used yet? For example, even though it would have been tough to weave this into a column about Jeeps, I have a nearly supernatural ability to ruin popular songs with the slightest twist of the lyrics. With one new word, “Always something there to remind me” becomes “Always something there to annoy me.” After Boy George asks, “Do you really want to hurt me?” he conveniently pauses for you to enthusiastically reply, “Yes!” However, “Muskrat Love” has me stumped because it may not be possible to make it worse. The pinnacle of lyrical degradation has to be “Love is a Rose” by the ever-lovely Linda Rondstat, to whom I apologize profusely. By changing just one letter, rose becomes nose. If unfamiliar with the song’s next line, look it up.
What of all the editor jokes left to be told? Much to my amazement, the editors never changed any of the many jabs I lobbed in their direction. Speaking of editors, I owe a huge amount of gratitude to John Cappa for taking a major gamble and letting me run wild with my allotted space. The same goes for his successors, Christian Hazel and Pete Trasborg.
As for me, rest assured not much will change. I’ll still be sneaking Jeep parts into the garage under the cover of darkness. (Honey, if you’re reading this, the editor added that last line to be funny. That reminds me: Out in the garage I saw a nest of spiders about to hatch right by the light switch, so don’t go out there. And yes, burning down the garage would take care of the spiders, but I’d much prefer if you’d let me handle this.)
And with this note, be it high or low, I must sign off. Hopefully I’ve brought you a few chuckles over the years and you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Should you spy my 1963 Willys wagon or ‘48 CJ-2A and there’s a tall, handsome man behind the wheel, please wave. If it’s not me, please call the police, because I sure didn’t sell either one.