And the Bear Played On

Well, at my Chuck E. Cheese it was a bear, because I think they inherited their band from a Showbiz. Anyway, the highlight of my childhood were the days spent with pockets full of quarters and a belly stuffed with pizza.

I’ll never forget being ten or twelve years old and wetting my pants in a Chuck E. Cheese because I couldn’t pause the damn arcade game and no way in hell was I handing the joystick over to someone else. I danced and danced and crossed my legs and finally went in my pants. I believe the game was Ten Yard Fight. I could milk the hell out of a quarter with that game.

When I wasn’t begging my mom to drop me off at the arcade, I was at home blowing lint out of my game cartridges. The Atari 2600 started it all. (Well, we had Pong first, but I never got hooked on that game. It was just a novelty. My Atari was my altar).

Chuck E. Cheese and Atari were both founded by the godfather of video games, Nolan Bushnell. Nolan is the reason I peed in my pants as a young adult and had to spend fifteen minutes in the bathroom with paper towels and toilet water (too embarrassed to use the sink). Over two decades later, Nolan is the reason I just wet myself again. A little.

16 responses to “And the Bear Played On”

  1. I can’t imagine how great this makes you feel (the comment from Mr Bushnell, not the pants peeing part…i know how that feels)

  2. Congrats, man!

    I have a vivid, scarring memory of Chuck E. Cheese. I (like most kids, I assume) used to think the animatronic band was real, and to this day, I still remember the first time I peeked behind the curtain between shows and saw them standing there lifelessly with their eyes open.

  3. Congratulations! I have never been in a Chuck E. Cheese. *ducks and runs as fast as an old lady can*

  4. Hugh

    My son Paul, for whom you signed WOOL at Rainy Day Books cut his programming teeth on Atari. During his senior year in college he won an award from Atari for an animation that was very cool for the time (1988). The Atari magazine did a big feature on it.

    Paul now programs video games for Disney!

  5. Wow, a compliment comparing Wool to an amazing series by a hero of yours. Can’t get much better than that! But Wool certainly deserves it. :)

  6. So… Post Traumatic Stress PIP (pee in pants) Disorder explains the dissonant cloaked rebellious deviancy. I knew there was a psychologically grounded explanation hidden in catacombs of your past. Come clean and engage in a primal scream young lad, the truth shall set you free!

  7. Oh my.

    I did this when I was 7 when I couldn’t let my amazing game of Pole Position go and I was absolutely certain my dad would disown me for wasting a quarter.

    I danced and I jumped and I tried so hard to not-pee but I tell ya what — I peed.

    Thanks for the story; I died a little that day and it’s good to have good company.

  8. Very nice. You’ve got a “full circle” thing going on.

  9. Dear Mr. Howey,

    I’m writing to lodge a complaint with you about your novel, ‘Wool’. I downloaded it to my iPhone last week, and it’s ruined my life. My husband is angry because I haven’t done anything around the house. My two year-old daughter is upset with me because I’ve ignored her solidly since I commenced reading, and my writing jobs are all delayed.

    I have never written to an author before, but I wanted to say (seriously), thank you. I loved ‘Wool’. The world which you created was believable, and I feel as if half of my mind has been residing there since I started reading it. I really, really enjoyed it. I loved Juliette’s character, her determination, the way the relationship with Lukas developed. The stars. The dichotomy of whether or not to feel sorry for Bernard. The morality in it, ethics, and the brilliant concept it was all predicated upon. And Solo. What a dude! I cried when it transpired that he considered the teenagers to be ‘Just like him’ – outstanding. And now the pump in the silo has started working, and there’s a brighter potential future and all is well in this half-world I’ve been permitted to share for a few days.

    I read about a book a week, sneaking them in around my life, and Wool had me completely absorbed. I feel sad it’s finished. I’ll miss half-inhabiting that world. And I loved that there were no spelling errors or typos. I really appreciated the language.

    So, I figured (as a second-rate author who once fell off my chair in surprise that someone contacted me about my second-rate novel), perhaps you might like to know that I consider your novel to be an outstanding, likeable, stunning, near-perfect piece of work*. For what it’s worth. I’ll shut up.

    I’m off to do some housework now. And then I’m going to seek you out on Amazon and see if there’s more…But I may have to delay purchase in case I get caught up again and continue my lack of productivity.

    With very best wishes and thank you,

    *only near-perfect rather than perfect, because all perfect novels should really feature a zombie or two.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! And extend my apologies to your hubby for me. :)

    2. Dear Jennifer,

      If you absolutely must have zombies (I can’t stand the critters, myself), may I suggest you set your sights on Hugh’s “I, Zombie.” You won’t be disappointed — though you may be grossed out a time or 10. :-)

  10. Ha! Same thing happened to me, during a game of Super Mario Brothers at the Cottonwood Mall in Salt Lake City, UT. I remember thinking, “This can’t be happening! I’m too old to pee my pants!” But nothing could stop the warmth spreading down the front of my pants, or the mixture of relief at my no longer full bladder. I was humiliated, with my older brother and his friends laughing at me. And I still had to kill an hour before my mom came and picked us up–I ran through the mall hoping the wind of running would dry that dark spot on my jeans.

    Thanks for bringing back what’s only a funny memory 27 years later!

  11. Billy Madison Avatar

    If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.

  12. My 7-year-old son peed his pants one time because he was playing a new Nintendo DS game and couldn’t figure out how to pause it. Now he just brings the thing into the bathroom with him.

  13. Never had Chucky Cheese when I was a kid. Never cared for it as an adult (after the kids grew up). But while on a contract in Jeff City, MO where the pizza really sucks (flat, thin, insipid and they like it that way), we were on the way to the airport in St. Louis and spotted a Chucky Cheese.

    We turned in just for the pizza (they do make a good pie). It was great!

    Later discovered that just north of Jeff, in Columbia, they had an Old Chicago sports bar with Chicago-style pizza. It became our pizza heaven.

    Glad your “hero” likes your stuff. It’s gotta make your day.

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