Grumpy Goes On Vacation

Part One, or "M-I-C-K-E-why...why...why..."

“Why do you have to be so Grumpy?” These words issued from my wife’s mouth in one moment of my temporarily not being ecstatic about the vacation we were planning. That vacation involved the compulsory family Hajj to the Magic Kingdom, otherwise known as Disneyland. The only real magic involved is how they manage to convince you to give them $300 for an experience that is comparable to what the federal authorities used to try to get David Koresh out of his Waco compound.

You, the reader, may agree with my wife that my inherent pessimism is uncalled for. After all, it is the happiest place on earth. How could I be so unhappy? I plan on spending the next few blog posts convincing you that Mickey and his motley friends are bent on corrupting your children and infusing the world not with happiness but with misery, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Exhibit A: the turkey drumstick frequently gnawed on between Toon Town and Fantasyland.

I have only visited Disneyland one other time in my life. I was eight years old and so I mercifully don’t remember much of the experience. It was a more innocent time where traveling across Southern Utah and Nevada through the heat of August in a small Civic sans a/c was considered standard practice; where the rides at Disneyland still mirrored the classic yet boring live-action films of the 60s and 70s; where Michael Jackson as Captain EO, with his phallus of a sidekick in Fuzzball, was worth standing in line for.

And so, we can say that my expectations for the voyage were not too high. With the recently sustained broken finger, I knew that the difficulty of juggling my own children and their luggage would prove to be interesting. We wrestled with the issue of doping our sons with Benadryl before the flight so as to not expose the well-paying airline customers to the frequent, high-pitch shrill of our children’s cries we have grown so accustomed to. That, along with every other “good” idea I had prior to and during this trip, was nixed by our family’s Board of Directors which includes my wife and only my wife. We boarded the plane and I could feel the stress-tension sweat welling up in my armpit. Fortunately, we made it through the airport, onto the plane, and into another state without incident. Though I hovered over Zach’s window seat with an open sick bag waiting for the sure-to-come projectile, my fears were, at least temporarily, allayed. Miranda then gave me the smirk that clearly said, “See, Mr. Grumpy, things are going just swimmingly.”

Of course, soon after the successful landing, we went through the relatively unsuccessful transaction of shuttling two children, three overstuffed suitcases, several handbags and two car seats through a crowded rental car bus, along a crowded line of renters, over a crowded parking lot of rentables, and into the crowded city of L.A.

And so it begins.

After visiting the beach and seeing all kinds of humanity in far less clothing than they should have been sporting (including a dude that felt it necessary to avoid a tan line on his butt crack, seriously. Seriously?) we went into our hotel room for a much needed night’s sleep. We had invited my dear sweet sister to come with us as we knew our only hope of survival on the trip would be if the adults could outnumber the children. In the only equation that really made sense in awkward family algebra, she slept on the bed with Zachary while Miranda and I fit ourselves on the couch’s pull-out like misshapen pieces in a Tetris puzzle. The only thing that relieved the stress of a sharpened protruding spring slowly inserting itself between my 3rd and 4th vertebrae was when Isaac, in his usual 1:00 a.m. call for a nightcap, joined us in the steely excuse for a bed. My back was relieved because there was just enough room for about 10 square inches of my body to be on the bed at one time. Occasionally, it was the top of my forehead, but I eventually found it simpler to let my ankle get the marginal comfort while the rest of me sprawled out on the floor like a murder victim.

We “woke up” in the morning about as refreshed as a blanket you find in your dead grandmother’s attic. Turns out that the slumberers who spent the night on the actual bed did not sleep too well either. Zachary chose to sprawl out horizontally across the bed and, on several intermittent occasions, grope my sister’s face like a blind man trying to assess his company. We managed to drag ourselves to the lobby for a continental breakfast and then off to the place where all the freaking magic happens. We arrived in the park and made the trek from the car (which I believe was in a parking lot somewhere in Fresno, California) to the theme park.

Approximately an hour later we were making our way back to the hotel. You see, I had my sneaking suspicions that with Zachary’s tender disposition, which made him cry while witnessing a game of Duck Hunt on the Wii, might come into play when exposed to the far scarier subject matter of Disneyland. Our second ride after the carousel happened to be the ill-chosen Pinocchio's Daring Adventure. Maybe you don’t remember it as a kid, but Pinocchio, I am convinced, was penned by the devil himself. And the ride tends to focus on the high points of the movie, such as Pinocchio’s separation from his surrogate father, being eaten alive by a whale, and having your physical features mutate after being exposed to a drunken gambling horde of ne’er-do-wells. Top it off with an eerie darkness and a bearded character laughing deeply and maniacally in the background, and my little son is now emotionally scarred for life. It took a total of five seconds on the ride for the hysterics to begin and several hours for them to wane. We left the park with Zachary muttering through his sobs “Disneyland is bad! We won’t ride a bunch of rides! You won’t leave me!”

As we ventured back to the hotel for naps and hopefully a clearing of the emotional slate for Zachary, into the rear-view mirror Miranda gave me an entirely different glare. It reminded me a bit of the scary ghostly image that is summoned into a mirror in the first full-length animated horror movie, Snow White. I wish the glare was one that said something like “You were right all along. I really should listen to you and respect your opinion more often.” However, it was not. It read something more along the lines of “You did this - you and your grumpy pessimism. I don’t know how, but you willed this bad karma on us and as soon as we have a great and happy time on this vacation, which we damn well better have, I am going to get you back.” I focused on the road home, my broken splinted finger pointing the way to drive, and whistled while I worked on my family vacation.

10 comments:

Tricia said...

Oh didn't anyone tell you your kids need to be able to pay their own way before the parents are able to enjoy it?

AliciaG said...

LOL If my hubby and I were ever to take a family vacation this is so how I could see it going. LOL

Amy H. (bird geek) said...

I would like to propose a guest writer on Bag Stranded: After we hear of Cameron's misery at Disneyland, I want to hear a short description from Miranda about what really went down!

mattandheather said...

Wow, I am glad that we went at the same time, just different states, cause if you went before me, I think I would have been scared to go. I think that I am the mean on though, I made Camden go on Splash Mountain with me even though he did not want to be on the water ride. Once Matt said we are going on Splash Mountain, he recognized the word Splash, and freaked out. I took him and said come with mommy I will take care of you...but he did love it! I can not wait to read what comes next. I laugh out loud literally many times!

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

I like the line "...focused on the road home, my broken splinted finger pointing the way to drive...". It was like I was in the car with you. Let's hear some more.

Lucas said...

Hillarious! My favorite Bag Stranded post so far...at least out of the two or three that I've actually read:)

Camille said...

I loved Tricia's comment...dead on! Thank you for the constant reminders of why I will never have children. But you know what they say, someday you'll look back at this and laugh. Thanks for letting us laugh at it in the meantime!

Kara said...

You may have just dashed my husbands case for us going to Disneyland....except reverse this scenario a little...He has to convice me to go.

Rachel said...

I side with you wholeheartedly Cameron. Disneyland sucks! Flying on planes with small children also sucks (I can't understand why the medication idea was rejected, I do it every time). Sleeping in a hotel....that sucks. And guess what? We plan on doing it next year. My favorite part of this particular entry, by the way, is the description of your sleeping experience on the hotel bed.