Grumpy Goes On Vacation II

Part Two, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Teacups

As mid-day naptime came, I snuggled into my hotel pull-out couch which doubled as a medieval torture device and indulged myself, as I am wont to do, in self-pity. My mind wandered back to my recent and sad history of vacations. As I started my current job, I left behind two weeks of well-earned vacation as a laundry monkey. When I began my employment as a laundry monkey, I did so on what would have been my anniversary of two years as the little elf who puts the bread on the grocery store shelves before you wake up.

The last vacation I took, in fact, was soon after my first son, Zachary, was born. My wife’s maternity leave was up, and so I took a week off to stay with the baby and help ease his transition into being watched by grandparents. That easing involved me testing the bounds of the human sentiment of patience as for hours on end, a constant din of colicky screams emanated from his little body. Though I loved being there for my little boy, I was never happier to leave my “vacation” and get back to work at 1 in the morning with my pornography and illicit drug aficionados of co-workers.

I woke my son up from his slumber so that we could at least try to squeeze off three hours in the park for the day. I love it when my son takes his rare naps, but if I am paying the equivalent of $100 an hour for an experience, it better either be a fully-catered ride on a zeppelin, playing catch with the reanimated corpse of Johnny Unitas, or torturing my own personal European hostel resident in a secluded country club. I will not spend it to stand in line at “It’s A Small World” with a hysteric child.

We ventured back into the theme park in the late afternoon. We managed to avoid initial incident with Zachary by telling him we were going to “Tomorrowland” instead of “Disneyland”. The jig was up shortly after he saw the floral display of the ever-present mouse inside the front gates. Though he protested, we managed to take him over to the House of the Future: the single largest and stupidest “ride” in the entire park.

Whenever anyone tries to form some type of attraction focused around the wonders of the future, you know there will eventually be a problem. Especially if that attraction is a multi-million dollar theater which once foretold of computers that fit in the comfort of your entire basement and can calculate numbers up to 7 digits, an interconnected highway system that will allow you to travel cross-county in your horseless carriage, and a toaster that will personalize your toast by burning your name into it. Though they have tried to update the house, it still featured electronic innovations such as a karaoke machine and Guitar Hero II. I know, not even Guitar Hero III. Lame.

After eating the “Pizza of the Future”, featuring cheese that ages backwards like Benjamin Button, we were off to the submarine ride. Here, I had to confront one of my biggest paranoia. Yes, I am extremely claustrophobic and hyperventilate in enclosed, inescapable spaces but my real fear is being confined in those same enclosed spaces along with a bevy of overstimulated, fart-filled children. Luckily, Zachary rather enjoyed the ride. This surprised me as it was full of the usual Disney shock value including man-eating moray eels and lightning and thunder. Yes, lightning and thunder in a submarine allegedly 20,000 leagues under the sea. We concluded the evening by visiting Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters where Zachary fired a laser gun at evildoers and the deafening shrill of thousands of blaster rounds being popped off at blindingly neon flashing aliens was just the trick to lull our consistently contradictive infant to sleep.

We went on a quick jaunt, otherwise known as a night’s sleep, back to the hotel and then, in the morning, made our way back to the park again. This time, we had to park in the Timon parking lot—the parking structures being named after characters who increase in level of obscurity along with the distance that they are from the park itself. At least we weren’t in the “Professor Quigley from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” parking lot. It seemed Zachary started enjoying his experience more and more as he become acclimated to the insanity of the park. He enjoyed his ride on the Jungle Cruise and his time in the pirate store with Mommy while my sister and I rode Pirates of the Caribbean. Though Zach loves pirates in general, the level of debauchery that is exhibited on the ride might have challenged his innocence even more than Pinocchio.He was even holding up well after our naptime roundtrip to the hotel. We tried making it to a few more rides, but it being the Friday night after graduation, the park was rapidly filling up with scantily clad teens and cotton-candy clad children. While we waited for the Pixar parade to come through, I walked a few feet off from our family’s position and discovered, albeit much too late in the vacation, the beauty of the single rider line. The line for the MaliBoomer (a ride with the elegantly simple pretext of shooting you a thousand feet in the air) was wrapping around the rest of the park, but as a single rider, I walked past them all and straight to the front of the line. All I had to do was swallow any pride I had (which is like one of those thousand spiders that you swallow without ever knowing it) and sit next to three frantically screaming, Jonas Brothers-loving, hormonal teenage girls. They strapped me in and, as expected, shot me into the air.

Just before I reached the summit, drowning out the ever-increasing decibels next to me, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I could see most of the state of California from my position and my body released its tension. We floated at the top with our limbs flailing to reach some type of equilibrium and my mind quickly reflected back to my family somewhere down below me where gravitational pull was at normal levels. I had perhaps been grumpy during this trip, and I had maybe even taken some of the wind out of the optimistic sails of my wife. I loved being able to take this seldom opportunity for an actual vacation with them, even with the midnight wakings, the hysterics over animatronics, and the occasional accusatory glares. I loved my family deeply and was suddenly very aware of that fact and very anxious to be close to them.

Luckily, the ride re-entered the atmosphere shortly afterwards and I sat next to my family while the likes of Lightning McQueen, Woody, and brightly-colored, ever-smiling dancers paraded past our prime position. The night ended with more crying as Toon Town seemed to be a veritable hall or horrors to Zachary. We weaved our way through the throngs of people and eventually made it home very late that night. Though I managed to break my already broken finger several times on the trip, as we lugged our luggage home, I considered it a success that we all survived.

In the few days that have followed since our trip, I have noticed something amazing that has happened with Zachary. First of all, he talks about Disneyland constantly. “My favorite ride was Toon Rabbit’s Spin,” he claims, though his mother and I know full well that he screamed as if we wanted to throw him into a meat grinder when we suggested going on it. Not only that, but he has become so imaginative. He creates zoos and aquariums with his animal toys and asks us to buy tickets to see them. He pretends that he is a racecar or a pirate and develops intricate backgrounds for his characters. It seems as though his exposure to the Magic Kingdom has magically awoken his little toddler imagination. When I see that, all the grumpiness that I had stored up, all the bad experiences we may have had—it all goes away and I feel a little less like Grumpy and a little more like Happy.

As far as a return trip, however, the next time I see Mickey had better be in Hell as he, Walt, and I hold hands and walk together into the inferno. Now that sounds like a vacation.


mattandheather said...

Yes, you are still Grumpy. But I think that the next time that you go, won't be in Hell, but a few years from now, and you can just let the kids get in line and you and Miranda can sit back and enjoy watching the excitement on their faces as they truely experience the Magic. :0)