Saturday, January 24, 2009

Disney On Ice

I love Disneyland. I can't help it. As cynical and embittered as I might be - the second I enter that crazy, Third Reich-inspired Anaheim parking structure I squeal with pleasure. I delight in the incredibly ordered, military precision of those polite Disney 'Cast Members' who direct me into my Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, or Chip n' Dale parking space. Southern California may have the nation's worst traffic, filthiest air, and unrelenting poverty - but I am able to buy unrestricted, go-anytime-you-want, zillion dollar platinum passes for my family. (I can't be bothered with pesky black-out days or having to stand in line with those sandal wearing, German tourists)

I'm one of those truly embarrassing dads that wears hi
s Mickey Mouse ears around the entire park and has the gumption to rock-out to that bizarre 'Block Party' parade where all the cute, young dancers dressed as flowers bounce up and down on stilts. Naturally, I maintain a standing reservation at 'Ariel's Grotto,' the chicest place at Disneyland. (Ariel's Grotto is Disney's version of the Stork Club, all the prettiest most poised Disney princesses visit your table and make small talk. I've developed a very close personal relationship with Cinderella who calls me 'Sir' Tod when she sees me - it's a gas!)

Last weekend, we arrived at the park promptly at 8:30 AM and the moment I slid my Platinum pass though the gate scanner I was like
a thoroughbred charging down main street. Anxious to get to Space Mountain, The Haunted House, Indiana Jones, and all the choicest rides I took no notice of my son having come to a complete stop behind me. I whizzed past a tour group of Japanese housewives and was but a few, precious steps from jumping on the new (minimum two hour wait) FINDING NEMO ride when my cell phone rang. My husband informed me that our son Ethan was staging a sit-in and refused (REFUSED!) to go on any rides. My husband George, who works in film production and at times talks to me like I'm his production assistant, ordered me to return to base camp at once.

Angrily, I returned to our 'base camp' which of course turned out to be that hokey, general store where Disney sells their ghastly treasure trove of high fructose corn syrup-laden candy, cookies, and Mickey Mouse shaped Rice Krispie treats. Ethan was in tears and made the most grotesque pronouncement I had ever heard.

"I don't like Disneyland rides," he cried "I only want to go to the playground."

George explained to me that the majority of 'adult' rides were too loud and hurt Ethan's sensitive ears. Munching on a Goofy shaped scone, Ethan was resolute. He was absolutely NOT going to go on a single ride that I favored. No Indiana Jones, no Haunted House, No Space Mountain and certainly no Tower of Terror. He even nixed IT'S A SMALL WORLD and PETER PAN for Christ's sake! My fury began to build.

"You can't be serious," I demanded, "What is the point of coming to Disneyland if you don't ride the rides?"

"I'm afraid this day isn't about you," George replied, "This day is about our son and he wants to go to the playground in California Adventure."

"Yeah, Dad it's about me." Ethan sneered as the scone crumbs fell from his mouth.

Hand in hand, George and Ethan began to head down Main Street towards California Adventure home of the infamous 'Tree Playground.' I was outraged. Clearly this was some kind of cooked-up conspiracy. What did they mean 'This day wasn't about me?' Excuse me, but EVERY DAY is about me. I work hard. I break my back making the money to pay for those elitist entry passes. It's my God given responsibility - no scratch that, God given RIGHT to ride THE MATTERHORN with with my family. I was seething and sulked all the way to the gates of California Adventure. I wanted to kill them both.

Upon arriving at the 'Tree Playground' which I've come to learn is called 'Grizzly Peak' Ethan scampered off to climb a rock wall. George and I sat there staring at our son and at each other. It was 9:05 AM and I insisted on getting a frozen Margarita from Rita's Baja Blenders. (My second favorite watering hole at Disneyland after Ariel's Grotto) Standing there in my Mickey Mouse hat, sipping my alcohol day-glo drink, I watched my son climb the same rock wall 30 times.

It was probably the cheap tequila that had permeated my brain, but by 9:25 I began to see the Zen of this situation. I had no place to go - I had only to be. My job was to sit there, watch my son climb the rock wall an infinite number of times and shout words of encouragement. My husband George tentatively came next to me and squeezed my neck.

"How's my baby?" he asked soothingly.

"I'm sad." I responded.

I mourned that there would be no thrilling rides on 'California Soaring.' I mourned that there would be no witty cocktail banter with my close friend Cinderella. Worst of all I would be forced to be my son's valet, carrying his half-eaten scone, Mickey Mouse ears, and water bottle for the rest of the day.

George put his head on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, "I love you, you know."

I pulled my husband close to me and kissed him deeply. I pretended not to notice the German tourists gawking at the two full-grown, drunk men wearing Mickey Mouse ears kissing.

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