The Awkward Files #3


Zoned Out

In high school I worked at a place called The Zone, a laser tag/bounce house/arcade/pizza restaurant. My job title was “Party Hero,” which basically meant I was the person that came with your birthday party package. It was my job to keep kids birthday parties running smoothly from start to finish. That means that I got very good at cutting cake, making gift lists, and getting pizza sauce out of my hair (don’t ask). Part of my job was learning jokes, games, and magic tricks to keep the kids entertained while they were in the party room. My most important task was to keep the Party Mom happy, which often felt like wrestling a stressed, pregnant alligator with a Prozac hangover.

One weekend I got assigned to a rather large boys birthday party. Bigger groups warranted having two party heroes on hand, so I was paired with my friend, Sean, who was skilled in the juggling arts. He wanted to entertain the kids and asked if I’d be his assistant for a particularly complicated juggling trick. We stood on separate sides of the party room. While he juggled, it was my job to throw additional balls into the mix from across the way. After his fourth ball, I hurled the fifth towards him. Unfortunately my aim is only accurate about 15% of the time and this time the ball went hurtling toward the Party Mom. WHACK! The ball flew right into her face. And I was mortified.

Let’s just say I didn’t get a tip.

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A Letter to Willy Wonka


Dear Willy Wonka,

One of my favorite movies growing up was your thrilling musical biopic entitled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. I can watch that documentary over and over again. I own the soundtrack. I have the beginning of “I Want It Now” memorized. My sister still fears being turned into a giant blueberry. All in all, this movie was a major part of my childhood. To pay tribute to your wonderful work, I have constructed the following list of invaluable things you and your fabulous factory of scrumdiddliumcious secrets has taught me:

1. Eating disorders are okay as long as you own a fantastical factory. Look at you, Willy! You’re spry, skinny, pensive. You’re living proof that you can never eat too much sugar. But now that I think about it, do we ever see you eat anything? Except maybe for that buttercup teacup, I’m pretty sure you don’t eat at all.

2. Use distracting colors and crazy edible objects to escape food safety laws. The Wonka factory could probably get away with murder (and almost does). Nobody questions anything you do. Where’s the FDA when you need them? I’m pretty sure none of the Oompa Loompas wash their hands.

3. Enslaving midgets from another planet is okay as long as you let them sing and torture the tourists. (And give them free reign of the factory tanning salon.)

4. You invented the brainwashing video. Did you ever work for the government?

5. Snozzwangers, Hornswigglers, and Vormicious Knids are things I never want to run into in the streets at night.

6. I want to try a snozzberry.

7. Always take advice from creepy guys in dark alleyways if they offer you money. Especially if they want you to spy for them. Who wouldn’t want to be a spy?

8. If my future child turns out better than Veruca Salt, then I did something right.

9. You can’t buy happiness, but if you buy enough chocolate bars you could end up winning an entire factory.

10. Small boys are stringy and elastic; God invented roller-skates; and the top hat never goes out of style. 

Well, that about does it. Thank you so much for your morsels of wisdom, Mr. Wonka–all priceless information that is sure to be very useful if I ever run into Mr. Slugworth.

But enough about me! How’s life at the factory? Are Charlie and Grandpa Joe doing well? I’m sure that Charlie’s super busy being trained to take over for you once you’re gone. I like to imagine him lifting giant gumdrop weights and making laps in the chocolate river. He’s probably really buff. Do you know if he has a girl friend?

And what about all the other kids? I’m sure that the Oompa Loompas were able to juice Violet back to normal and that little Mike stretched nicely. I do hope that it didn’t take too long to get Augustus out of the pipes and it didn’t disrupt your production timeline. I couldn’t care less about Veruca.

I don’t want to take too much of your time–I know you’re a very busy candyman–but I was just wondering if you are ever planning on having another chocolate contest? I think that you could really do well the second time around and maybe even turn it into a reality TV show. People would like that.

Well, thanks again for making my childhood so sweet and full of chocolatey goodness.

Yours truly,


P.S. May I call you Willy?