Wacky Willy's, by Candice Carnes
Wacky Willy’s, by Candice Carnes
Wacky Willy’s restaurant caters to small children and specializes in developing vices that will someday grow into full blown addictions and dysfunction. For the bargain price of a second mortgage on their parents’ house, kids can indulge in: gambling, rough-housing, excessive spending, fighting, whining, cheating, and stealing, all while hopped up on legal stimulants such as cake and caffeinated sodas.
If it is his or her birthday the lucky boy or girl can also celebrate with a Styrofoam crown and a false sense of superiority, setting each of them up for a lifetime of inflated egos and expectations.
For those who’ve grown up someplace isolated, like say Pluto, and are living in blissful ignorance of American childhood, please allow me to explain: Wacky Willy is a pirate with an unusually large felt head and plastic eyes, though his name isn’t really Wacky, or Willy. His true identity, among other things, has been changed. Willy, you see, is in The Humor Writers’ Pirate Protection Program. You can try asking his name, but he won’t tell you. He doesn’t say much, probably because his mouth is painted on. Willy’s limited communication includes hopping up and down and making exaggerated hand gestures.
He gives small children hugs because he’s paid to, and grown women hugs because he can get away with it. No woman who’s been hugged by Willy will ever look at plastic wiggle-eyes and a papier-mâché head the same way again.
Every child and parent has met Wacky Willy or one of his relatives, most of which are anthropomorphic absurdities in hats or vests, and occasionally pants. Willy, being a pirate, and not a frog, or duck, or whatever, does wear, you know, pants.
The owner of Wacky Willy’s knows that teenagers have tried to de-pant Willy. In order to protect Willy’s more innocent patrons, Willy’s pants are sewn, stapled, and super glued to the rest of his costume.
Make no mistake. The children who frequent Wacky Willy’s may look cute and small, but I know firsthand (as a former member of their society), that they are lean-mean-manipulating-machines.
Future members of Gambaholics of America can be found at the rewards counter where sticky hands pay for cheap plastic toys. Real money is no good at Willy’s. It must first be converted into tokens, and then used to win tickets. Such tickets are won in arcade games like skeeball, spin-a-wheel, and blackjack made to look benign by using an animated purple hippo as a dealer who wins all ties. Twenty-five dollars of Mom’s money will slowly morph into a relative street value of what might cost sixty-eight cents at a regular store.
You might wonder why a child doesn’t just buy a yo-yo or whistle in the real world. If you are wondering this then you’ve grown-up, and you’re just too old understand anything. It might all seem trivial to you, but to a six-year-old, the choice between a yo-yo and a whistle is serious business.
At the ticket counter a child’s goal is to convince the staff member to give out prizes beyond what the child can afford. This process usually takes average children between twenty and thirty minutes and superstar negotiators as long as two hours. One wears out the Wacky Willy staff by asking annoying questions for extended periods of time. Whining and other psychological war tactics are applied until the staff gives some brat a color TV just to get rid of him. I have never actually seen this happen, but I have heard rumors of a child who managed to obtain BOTH the yo-yo AND the whistle.
Should a child, say a seemingly cute little blond girl in pigtails, be unable to obtain a yo-yo or whistle from legitimate gambling practices there are other methods she can use, such as violence towards smaller children. Toddlers don’t play to win. They stick to the rides in the kiddy-corral. It’s only a matter of her luring a little boy into the ball pit with bits of pizza and then diving under to pry tokens out of his hands.
The toddler cries for his mother until the mother takes off her shoes and goes in after him. The sign clearly states No Adults Allowed. This sort of anarchy leads to the manager chewing out the mother, who’s not intimidated by the pimply sixteen-year-old. “Oh what are you going to do?” she snaps over the wailing toddler. “Call your dad?”
Tired mothers annoy the staff more than the kids do. No one who works at Willy’s can avoid drama. Those people really earn their minimum wage and paper pirate hats.
Children love to invite me to their parties at Wacky Willy’s. I won’t fight over tokens with them like children their own age (well just that once, but I said I was sorry). I am relatively good at skeeball and I always, always bring a gift, and not one of those just show-up with anything so as not to be rude toys. I bring the good stuff: the loud microphone, the messy finger-paints, or anything else I think will drive their parents crazy.
As a single woman in my thirties, all my married friends think that my life is glamorous, but mostly my life is pretty much like theirs. Maybe I should be having cocktails in trendy bars while wearing ridiculously expensive fashions, but instead I spend my few free Saturday afternoons wearing yet another pointy paper hat.
Afterwards, I’m always appointed to drive home the random child whose mother never picked him up. When I ask said-child where he lives he invariably answers with vague terms like “Near McDonalds past the mean dog where the red truck used to be.” Used to be?!?
I ask him questions, such as where he goes to elementary school. Then we drive around in the general vicinity of his neighborhood until he finally points and yells, “Hey look there’s my house!”
The rest of my night will then be filled with the exciting task of scraping frosting off the backseat of my car.
Ah, who needs those glamorized single-type-women portrayed on TV? At least I lead a life of freaking substance. That’s what I tell myself anyway whenever I put yet another TV dinner into the microwave or spill Cheerios all over the couch for the third time in a week. It’s all Willy’s fault for inflating my expectations. Once upon a time, I thought everything would be mine. All I had to do was have small pretty feet. Isn’t that what they say in Cinderella? What happened to my life? It’s all Willy’s fault for making me think that I could someday have it all, BOTH the yo-yo AND the whistle.
Citizens beware. Wacky Willy, his furry friends, and his establishments are a national epidemic. Adults might think they are immune, but that’s just wishful thinking. Next time you find yourself wanting a cell phone with gadgets and features you didn’t know you needed, annoying the salesperson over which one to buy, blame it on your childhood at Wacky Willy’s.
You might have forgotten him, but your bad behavior and constant disappointments proves he will never forget you. Bar fights, road rage, excessive credit card spending, tax evasion, even divorce are all Willy’s doing. What good is life if you don’t get to wear a Styrofoam crown, fight, drive like you don’t care, overextend your credit cards on yo-yos and plastic whistles, and then lie about all of it on your taxes? Just remember what happens at Willy’s might stay at Willy’s, but the IRS knows everything and they are not nearly as patient as the Wacky Willy staff members.
I’d love to stay and chat, but I need to go and buy a box of Band-Aids and some Aspirin. I have a party to go to.