In the months of economic ruin that followed the first cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., one casualty was almost a foregone conclusion: Chuck E. Cheese, a chain of entertainment centers featuring arcade games, indoor playgrounds, terrifying animatronics and depressing pizza, declared bankruptcy in June of 2020. It seems that during a pandemic, relatively few families were willing to spend time in what amounts to a giant, teeming Petri dish of kid germs.
But! After a major restructuring and the payment of $705 million in debt, the Child Casino Rat was back on his grind, with plans to renovate existing locations and expand into new markets. There was only one pesky little problem: We, the public, are clamoring for Cuck E. Cheese.
The prospect of a Cuck E. Cheese franchise — continually raised by the periodic glitching of the “h” in neon signs, as well as plain old typos in which the same letter is omitted — has gripped the culture and refuses to let go. Imagine it: a carnival atmosphere in which everything is designed to facilitate your fantasy of cucking, or being cucked. Maybe you’d like to watch your wife have relations with Mr. Cheese himself (the rollerblading pads stay on). Or perhaps you and the neighbors would like to try spouse-swapping while the youngsters frolic in a ball pit. The point is, you’re free to be yourself — as long as you identify as some manner of cuck fetishist.
A belligerent, ad hominem style of politics linked to the presidency of Donald J. Trump helped turn “cuck” into a popular insult of the day. Right-wingers threw the term around the way they did “snowflake” and “SJW” — but only to denigrate liberal men they perceived as soft, weak or insufficiently masculine. It has an unsurprisingly racist history, having evolved out of a fear of sexually dominant Black males, though for the average MAGA Twitter goon, all it’s supposed to mean is a guy whose wife sleeps with other men, well aware that he wouldn’t stand up for himself even if he caught her in the act. However, in the way of so many reactionary epithets, this projects the speaker’s own fear — in this case, of marital infidelity, a moral taboo that has diminishing relevance on the left, where a broader variety of romantic arrangements are valid.
As such, it’s possible and even commonplace to reclaim cuckoldry as a positively valued kink, the kind of experimental play that keeps our sex lives fresh, invigorating and fun. What could make more sense than melding our nostalgia for childhood amusements with the adult craving for erotic adventure? This is the magic promised by a Cuck E. Cheese establishment.
Unfortunately, Cuck E. Cheese remains — for the moment — a mirage or accident of language. I can’t in good conscience tell you to commit sanctioned adultery roleplay in the bathroom of a Chuck E. Cheese, now can I. (Neither do I want to bail you out of jail for trying it.) We must therefore continue to imagine a cuck-friendly version of the hallowed institution and advocate for its speedy development. The company could start by converting a handful of their properties — kind of like Taco Bell with its special “Cantina” restaurants, or how Hooters will someday have to introduce a “Femboy” take on their original, increasingly outdated concept to stay competitive.
What? You don’t know about Femboy Hooters? Get with it! All the brands you grew up with are pivoting to progressive conceptions of sex and gender. Yep, the future is looking horny as hell, and I, for one, am impatient to greet it. Won’t even mind if they take out the prize booth to make space for a gangbang room. When you’re a proud cuck, you’ve already won the game of life.