Throwback Weekend

This weekend we had a baby-sitter 2 nights in a row. It was one of those things that happens that you think couldn't possibly be real. Something is going to happen that will change it, so you don't get too excited about it. 

But it happened.

And just like when I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert, and our own Chicago White Sox in the WORLD SERIES, it still feels a little surreal. Like a Total Recall purchased and implanted memory. Worth every penny.

It was a great reminder of that time pre-kids when we did everything WE wanted, which was: NOT MUCH. We drank too much, slept in, sat around watching TV and actually hearing it. So yeah, nothing productive. 

We didn't cook anything, or clean anything, our house looked like a crack den on Sunday. Some people just shouldn't be left to their own devices. Shout out to our children for coming along and forcing us to be real grown ups. Some of the time.

We did some things. We went to a Casino Night charity event for my friends on Friday night. We weren't sure how the ticket thing/raffle prizes worked, so we gave our few tickets away and left at Old O'Clock. I drank more than is age appropriate, judging from my pounding head Saturday morning, but it was fun.

Saturday was pretty boring errand-running, trying to find clothing worthy of a 'high priestess.' That's what I accidentally said when I told the lady at Chico's I didn't know what to wear to officiate a wedding. In my defense, she was a classy-looking ladytype who works AT A CLOTHING STORE, and she didn't know either. But she agreed I should totally call myself a High Priestess whenever possible. Even though it couldn't be more inaccurate.

We spent a lot of time getting new phones, especially for our approach. I always say, 
"Just give me THEE cheapest phone that takes pictures and brings me the internet." I'm a thing-dropper, why tempt fate?

My husband Alex does his online research ahead of time, and pretty much just goes with whatever smart phone has that thing where when you take pictures, you hold down the camera button and it automagically (remember that?) takes 10,000 pictures so you can pick the one your kids are least creepy-looking in. 

Then, when we were having all of our digital junk transferred to our new phones, AFTER we've paid, it turns out Alex did didn't even have any IDEA how much his phone costs. He literally said, "I don't know." WHAT?! That's the most American thing he's ever done ever. 

Quick disclaimer: They used to do free phones with contracts, so this was the first time we had to pay for phones. Now they break it down into monthly payments on your bill. Our service price went way down, so our bill was about the same including the new phones. If we want to upgrade before they're paid off, they will pay them off.

We also heard a pretty hilarious Wacky Dad in the store, Dad-ing it up to his preteen daughter. We missed the beginning of the convo, but he said something like,
"It doesn't matter. By the time you have kids I'll be dead."
She dramatically smacked him and "DDAAAAADDD!"'ed him, and he said,
"Unless you have kids pretty soon. You should probably hook up now."

That was a first for me. I wanted to stroll by and say,
"Hey, I heard your looking to 'hook your daughter up' I have a teenage son" and see how much I could mortify someone else's kid, but they left before I could do it.

Yes, it's probably for the best.

Speaking of throw-back, Saturday night we went to what was promoted as a Pac-Man themed restaurant. ::80's Nerd Boner::

I will admit, I was disproportionately excited about this. A couple of the pictures promised Big Things, 80's style.
RIGHT?! from DailyHerald.com
This wall-sized Pac-Man game was there, but it beats me how you ever get to play it. No one ever explained the process. Or any process. Or anything. It was a fun night of watching other people play video games.

I'm not sure who designed this restaurant, but I'm almost positive they weren't alive in the 80's. You can tell the difference between someone who was there, who gets it, and pop culture kids who want to create a vibe but weren't there.

I read about this place and was immediately excited, hoping for nostalgia. A little bit of that, 
"We had to leave the house to play video games, Son" 80's magic. Well, being at a place in a mall where they have arcade games reminded me exactly why my generation made sure we didn't HAVE to leave our houses for this crap anymore. Because: PEOPLE. I hate when People.

This place was such a great idea. They promised table-top games and showed people eating meals on those table-top games. Maybe it was just us, but that gave us the impression we would at some time be seated at a table like that.

I'm not sure how to get the experience they promise in articles, but we couldn't figure it out. We had some logistical problems, that might have been cleared up by people who work there, but weren't. No one ever told us there was a Coat Check, we had to ask. 

We weren't sure about how the game cards worked, they said by time. We later figured out that didn't mean GAME TIME, that meant actual time. Except not quite the actual time of Earth, where I have lived all of my life, because we swiped one at one point and the screen told us "2 minutes and 30 seconds left of Play." Then we walked about 40 feet to the next game, swiped the card and the screen said "No Play Time Left." Maybe they installed Time Jumps and Black Holes, but again, none of that was explained.

They claimed the cards are done by time so that you can "socialize" but when the clock is running down faster than actual time, you can't stop and chat, Sister. You need to be constantly sprinting in a circle around the games to find an open one. And do you think you will find TWO or more NEXT TO EACH OTHER that are open? This is not a "Fantasy Island" themed restaurant. Unfortunately.

Most of your precious Game Time is spent trying to find/play an actual game that was open, and not being played by a teenager or young adult. Who didn't look like they ate at the restaurant. Speaking of the restaurant, described as a word I despise, "upscale" was totally separate from the games, and all things Pac-Man. And 80's. And fun. 

In my selfish mind, I couldn't help but think, 
'Wait, didn't I just way overpay for a small plate of THREE scallops so that I didn't have to fight teens for an open game? Because I really thought I just paid $12 for a FROM SCRATCH froo-froo drink called "The Pinky" so that I could have that kind of experience.'

And, as I stated in my novella of a Yelp review, if I actually had had that type of experience, I wouldn't have minded paying that. But the food wasn't the level of Justified A Mostly Empty Plate, as some of the upscaliest of the upscale. 

The food did not earn it's Car Payment price. My dinner was $28 for 3 medium sized scallops and literally a spoonful of some kind of corn and vanilla puree. That's right, vanilla. This restaurant was full-on mocking the Upscale Restaurant formula. It would have ONE crazy ingredient that didn't belong with the others, like:
"Porkchops, potatoes, swiss chard"
Every menu item read like that,
"Regular food item, food, eeew"
"Yum, yum, WTF"

The swiss chard was rolled into a seaweed wrap, that tasted like a Horcrux. The worst Horcrux. That one in the cave where Dumbledore tells Harry he has to keep feeding him the poison water, and he's begging Harry to stop and it's killing us all. You and I would have totally stopped, but this is why Harry is the Chosen One. He doesn't let the absolute horror on Alb's face stop him. He keeps scooping and feeding him, and we can't even LOOK, but he gets it done. I imagine that poison water tasted like the swiss chard, like Impending Death. It's ironic how the more healthy the food is, the more it makes you not want to live any longer.

Speaking of Impending Death, the service wasn't great. The waiter was friendly enough, he went on and on about some fancy water that is filtered by magic fairies 3 times in the back, and you could get SPARKLING water from the birthing tubs of baby unicorns, but then we never got this fancy water until our meal was almost over. We were totally over it by then. We needed something strong to get that Horcrux taste out of our mouths, not water. That mush was was SO BAD that on a dare we all had to taste it. This is a job water can't handle. Accio alcohol.

I would rather see some corny, campy 80's or game-themed food. Like this cake I made for my husband's birthday.

And then we were given game cards that didn't work, and we had to hunt down and wait forever for cards that actually worked, and then we still had to wait in line like commoners behind teenagers to play their version of an 80's video game. 

Since it's dubbed a "PacMan themed restaurant" I assumed there would be plenty of those games to play. Wrong again. I did not see ONE Ms. PacMan game. There was a Baby PacMan game, I didn't even remember that was a thing. Where is the Missus? In back cooking like it's 1947??? 

There was one regular PacMan game, and a few "Level 256" games that at times we waited in line to play. One went right to Level 256, the highest level of PacMan, but it wasn't the split-screen craziness we heard about. 

It was just impossible to play and when you ate the BIG PILL, the ghosts didn't turn blue.

Homer Simpson voice: "BOOORING!"

The place seemed to be for 80's kids all growed, but that is exactly who we are and it wasn't for us. I have no idea what could fix this. I can't even grasp the logistics of my preschooler's Pajama Day, so don't ask me how to run an Upscale Restaurant-slash-Arcade. That doesn't even sound like a thing to me. 

It may have been better if we could have sat at the tabletop games tables at any point. Remember those machines? In Pizza Hut and whatnot? 2 people sat at a table and played 2-player Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger and it was fun. 

I have pictures, but effing Blogger is not letting me upload them. There are pictures on my Instagram if you're curious. Button in the upper-right of this screen.

Anyway, they had those tables. Right near the book shelf full of 80's board games, and some nerds had the audacity to play Rummikube on the table. ON TOP OF A VIDEO GAME. Alex was beside himself, "They're using TWO games!" 
Blurry. I didn't want the people to freak out about having
their picture taken while being HUGE wasteful nerds.
It did seem like a waste. I don't know if it was the same exact people sitting at those tables all night, but I never saw anyone get up from those at any point. They felt like a secret we weren't in on. 

We did get to play a few games, Space Invaders and Q-Bert, one of my favorites. I didn't see Frogger, Donkey Kong or Burgertime. *sad face*

Tapper. Can't read it, sorry.
And some game I did not remember called Tapper, which seems to be an 8-bit Budweiser commercial. See the bow tie logo at the top? It's through the whole game.

In the game you're a bartender of FOUR bars simultaneously. 

You pour the drinks and sling the mugs Sam Malone-style at the drunks, then you have to collect the empties before they crash to the ground. Good times.

They also had overly fancy disco-ball bowling alleys, which seemed more 70's to me, but what do I know? 
Does this look 80's to anyone??
I was alive in the 80's and there weren't disco balls at bowling alleys. Not any that I ever went to. They did have them at roller skating rinks. It seems like a reach. Gratuitous Disco Ball-handling. To the Penalty Box!

They also had that plastic dome hockey game with the swivel dudes. Remember those? Yes, sorry for the technical jargon on the games. I don't know what you call that crap.
THIS thing.
The highlight of the evening for me was when I got 5th high score on Q-Bert and got to enter 3 characters for my name. Even though I have a 3-letter name, I entered "ASS" because 80's forever!

This place is somewhere between,
"Totally tubular!"
"Barf me out, gag me with a spoon."

We had a pretty good time, but I doubt we'll return. If we do, it definitely won't be on a Saturday night. Based on the price vs. quality of our meal, we'll probably just skip the restaurant part all together and stalk out those table-top games. Have appetizers and torture people by playing Go Fish on top of them or something. 

What do you think about a "Pac-Man themed restaurant?" Any ideas for how to make it a better experience?


  1. Wow, this sounds like such an awesome place done wrong. I love the idea of it... just not the execution.

    ASS is a great choice! Other acceptable names would have been SEX or POO.

    Oh, and you probably don't want to hear this, but the reason they don't tell you the phone price and just make it a monthly payment is so that you don't realize you're paying almost $1,000 for a phone. But hey, over 2 years it's only an extra $35 a month! That's reasonable, isn't it? Oh yes, very reasonable!

    1. I thought about "SEX" but in my life? ASS is more appropriate for my name.
      You're too right, my husband's phone turned out to be $600! That choked me up a little. Mine was $150, recently marked down from over $200. Though in my husband's defense, he not only doesn't drop his phone, but he actually takes pretty good quality photos and videos of our kids, and he actually DOES back up those pics/videos to the computer which is backed up. I wait until my phone memory is literally FULL and throw em on my laptop, which gets dropped and thrown around by the kids.

  2. True confessions time. The ONLY time I've played a computer game in my ENTIRE LIFE was a Ms Pac-Man table game at a university pub in 1982. Pretty sad, eh? And here's something even worse. I paid a lousy $90 for my flip-phone. No internet, nuttin. Is it (as you say) Old O'Clock yet?

    I'm going to steal your expression for these fancy-shmancy overpriced restaurants where they serve you "yum, yum, WTF?" That's an entirely accurate description!

    1. Not sad, just not your deal. I haven't read almost ANY of the classic stories people always talk about, Little Women and the like. I just caught the gist from people talking about them. I never plan to read that :) no regrets.
      I am tempted to go back to a flip phone, at least the battery will last more than a few hours! I asked for a tablet for my birthday for this reason, but it's big and I'm afraid of dropping it so I don't carry it. Then we'll be in the backyard or at the park and I find myself surfing Twitter on my phone. Again and again.
      That sounds like a great Food Blog name "Yum, Yum, WTF"

  3. Two nights of sitters -- that's magical! Boy, I hate when people hog those video game tables for other purposes. How dare they!

    1. It was a crazy dream, every minute.
      I know, right?! Get a regular IKEA table!

  4. What an excellent weekend!! I saw Macca way, way back when Linda was still alive. Great show, of course. And I loves me some Pac Man.

    1. Wow. I love that Tshirt "I may be old, but I got to see all the great bands." So true.

  5. Asking Millennials to get an 80s theme restaurant right is like going to Germany and ordering Mexican food. No offense to Millennials and Germans, but when you want the real thing, go to the real source.

    At least wake one of us old folk up to act as a consultant, right?

  6. You're bonkers but I really enjoyed reading all of this. I missed the 80's cos I was tiny and my parents are luddites.

    1. Are you going to run out and try Swiss Chard now to see what Albus went through to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named?
      The 80's were glorious, but you may have had to be there? Though I do wish I were more aware during the 70's, so I don't know. We can't go back there. Not without time travel being possible.

  7. Are you sure this wasn't all a bad dream, Joy?? I was getting the "wtf's" just reading and experiencing it through you virtually! And where is the Tron game???!! Must. Have. Tron. I don't care if it's a Pac-Man restaurant. Plus, I hate Pac-Man because I have a phobia of being chased. Chaseaphobia. Now I want scallops! Have a great week! :)

    1. It may have been, it may ALL STILL BE. I forgot about Tron! I don't know that I ever played the full-sized game. Hmmm. I did not know Chaseaphobia was a thing, but it would definitely eliminate most video games! My favorite game, Tetris, is a puzzle game. So you could play that!

  8. OMG. I snorted. I have never tasted Horcrux or swiss chard. It sounds hellishly delicious in a seaweed stuck in your teeth sort of way along with sea urchins and microscopic bugs entwangled in there. I do love some Pac Man. It has been FOREVER since I played it. Sounds like those throwbacks were delightful and nostalgia is good.

    1. Well, it's not a pleasant experience, but you know it will make you STRONGER and whatnot. It was delightful. I could have handled even MORE nostalgia, but hey, you take what you can get I suppose.

  9. PAC MAN!!! Wow that brings back memories! I spent many an hour playing that game and trying to beat it :)

    1. It WAS a great game. Like that camera commercial "So advanced, it's simple."

  10. Well, that was a great review, Joy. I remember Pacman but I was never really into the video games of the day. So, I have nothing to contribute by way of suggestions to improve the place. Seems to me though they should fix their menu, pronto. nothing worse than over priced, shitty food. Love your comparison to the poison in Harry Potter. Glad you had fun at least in spite of the ignorant PEOPLE at the place. :)

    1. The 80's was the only time of my life that I did play video games, and ever since I really only like puzzle-type games.
      You're right. At LEAST if you're charging a lot for the food, make it worth it. We DID have fun when we got to play, so there's that but I doubt we'll ever go back. Thanks for reading.

  11. You totally had me at Q-Bert. I'm yours.


    I love you.

    1. Q-Bert rules! They must have had it set to a lower level of difficulty, because I was really good at this one and I haven't played in years. We had a PC version, not sure if that's the difference or what. 80's forever!