Monday Munchies: Access Denied!

Norms’ Bigger Better Breakfast. (Photo by Jefferson VanBilliard)

I had big plans for this week’s edition of my cannabis-fueled adventures. Unfortunately, things don’t always pan out the way you plan. On Sunday morning, I woke up to the sounds of multiple lawnmowers and barking dogs, plus I had a serious case of “party regret.” After promising myself I would never drink again, I took a few minutes of self-care using my Select vaporizer, then showered. With the last of the contents of my overworked stomach made their way through my house’s plumbing, I brushed away the acid coating my mouth, grabbed a fresh pack of Good Brand mints, called an Uber, and shakily made my way down the driveway to start yet another weed-soaked journey, this time to a childhood haunt.

When Chuck E. Cheese opened its doors in the spring of 1977, the world was a very different place. Elvis Presley had just taken his final bathroom break, France executed its last criminal by guillotine, and New York was a war zone thanks to a blackout that caused mass looting. When people weren’t busy smoking on airplanes or wearing bootcut jeans, they would unwind by taking their kids to a restaurant whose mascot happened to be a rat. It’s either the worst marketing idea in history, or the joint’s way of quietly warning you of your upcoming experience. I hadn’t been to a Chuck E. Cheese since Milli Vanilli had a song on the Billboard charts, so I didn’t know what to expect when my driver pulled up to the Costa Mesa location. My own memories of beer-soaked arcade games are a bit foggy, but I can recall the taste of burnt, thin-crust pizza and the smell of dirty feet emanating from a ball pit. I steadily puffed on the concentrates I had previously stowed in my pockets, ready to watch an animatronic rat and his gang of misfits serenade me through an entire helping of cardboard the staff call pizza while cheating the Whack-a-Mole machine out of enough tickets to win whatever I wanted from the prize room.


Being a childless adult in my mid-thirties has granted me an aloofness to certain things that other people my age deal with daily while raising children. For example, I can’t relate to anyone complaining about the wait time for picking up a kid from school, the dread of back-to-school shopping, or the idea that at any moment someone might steal your baby. Chuck’s increase in security measures meant my plan was over before it started, as the guard at the entrance had every right to be suspicious of a guy covered in tattoos and smelling like a freshly baked skunk. After unsuccessfully trying to enter a place meant specifically for children and realizing that the more I tried to make myself not sound like a pedophile the more I actually sounded like one, I admitted defeat and left before I ended up on an episode of Dateline.

At home, I had a chance to rethink my plan, and the solution I had been looking for became obvious. I didn’t need to find a new place to eat; I just needed to find a new person to eat with. Luckily, some of my friends have been blessed with children, and I was positive they would let me borrow some for a few hours so I could convince Chuck to let me get drunk off cheap beers and bad pizza.

Not the response I was looking for . . .

However, most of my friends have a rather negative vibe toward me using their children for my weed articles; plus, my high was starting to make me sleepy. So, with my plans for pizza down the drain and any hope for salvation lost, I laid down and took one of the longest naps I’ve ever had in my life. I woke up at 3 a.m. and headed to Norms for its signature Bigger Better Breakfast. I then swore to myself that if I ever have a kid, the first place we are going after leaving the hospital is back to Chuck’s so I can rub it in that door guy’s face while setting a new high score on Cruisin’ USA.

While I may not have accomplished the goal I’d set for myself, Select and Good got me higher than Matthew Perry on the set of Friends, and Norms helped fill the hole in my stomach from the previous night’s festivities. By the way, Norms Restaurants marks its 70th anniversary on Wednesday (Oct. 23) by serving 70-cent breakfasts that consist of two hotcakes, two eggs and two pieces of bacon or sausage. It’s available 6-9 a.m. for dine-in customers only.

Next week, I’ll be taking Munchies on the road. Stay tuned, and as always, happy smoking!

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