Friday, August 15, 2008

Inflatable Hell

Yesterday afternoon we spent two hours at a place called Inflatable Wonderland up at Lakeline Mall. We met my longtime friend J, who just moved to Round Rock from Orlando, and her two kids up there. J and I had been trying to get together for two weeks so she could fill me in on our 20-year high school reunion, which I skipped. I had vetoed a couple of J's suggestions because they involved being outside, which I just can't handle right now, so I figured someplace relatively enclosed and air conditioned was my best option.

I will admit, it wasn't what I had expected. I had pictured a big place out in the middle of the mall filled with grimy birthday party quality moonbounces. Instead, it's in an actual store front, and it has huge bounce houses, the likes of which I've never seen. And it was so clean; there were staff constantly moving around sweeping up trash and crumbs. It was a drastic different from a local "playnasium" that shall remain unnamed, where you come out worried about what fungus your kids might have picked up. There was a large hand-washing station with soap and disinfectant gel, and the best part was that kids were actually washing their hands.

The staff really impressed me. They all appeared to be high school or college kids, but instead of being the usual bored, disinterested summer employees, they seemed to be enjoying their jobs. They were playing ball with the kids, and leading dance contests, and teaching kids how to moonwalk.

I had been worried about taking Campbell there, afraid that he'd get flattened by big kids in the bouncy things, but the place had two bounce houses specifically for little ones. And oh was Campbell in heaven. He bounced himself silly the whole time we were there, only taking a break for some ice cream.

The girls had just as much fun, tearing around playing tag and hide-n-seek with J's kids. I saw them only when they zipped by during one of their games or when they stopped to beg for water. When we left they both begged for a return visit.

I was impressed with the security measures taken. When we went in, the staff member at the front desk put wrist bands on all of us with matching numbers. We couldn't leave until we'd shown the staff member at the exit all of our wrist bands - if the numbers hadn't matched, I wouldn't have been allowed to leave with the kids. That was very reassuring to me.

So why was it hell?

Because it was so.freaking.noisy. And chaotic. I don't do well in crowds, and as a result, I avoid them at all costs. So being trapped in a confined space with 100 screaming, running kids was pretty much my worst nightmare. Plus, the Ozone Action Day-induced migraine that had been looming all day exploded while we were there. I managed to hang on for two hours, just because the kids were having so much fun. If Campbell had melted down at any point, we would have been out of there in a flash.

And while the kids were playing, I got the run down on all the good gossip from the reunion. Someday maybe I'll go to one. Or maybe not.

But right now, I'm fending off repeated requests for a return trip to the place. I think if Campbell could talk, he'd be begging to go, too. I've been giving them my standard, "We'll see" answer and hoping that they'll forget all about it during our week at the beach.

And pigs might fly.

1 comment:

Keeffer said...

Speaking of meeting up with J. .. I had dinner with Sarah H. the other night. She skipped the 10 year reunion but they sent her a book of what people are doing now. Some went on to great thing- some are managing Sarasota subway restaurants. Just like a normal school I guess.