"Excuse me, sir, but are you going to use that innertube?"
GateHouse — Having spent New Year’s Day at the Blizzard Beach water park in Disney World — the Happiest Place on Earth, particularly if your happiness revolves around disbursing $27.95 for chicken fingers — in sunny, godawful Orlando, Fla., I have already learned in 2011 these two important lessons:
To beat the crowds at a Disney water park, go in January.
The human body is a thing to be reviled and abhorred.
Visiting friends and a bit of pleasing randomness brought us to the county-sized neon bacchanal of Orlando, Fla. (town motto: “A Black Angus On Every Street Corner, But The Lord God Help You If You Need To Purchase A Vegetable”) over the New Year’s weekend, a time for new beginnings, personal re-energization and, in my case, the opportunity to ring in 2011 wandering around Downtown Disney listening to a didgeridoo player cover Ozzy Osbourne while drinking smuggled-in champagne. Yeah, that’s right. We smuggled hooch into Disney World. This makes us the COOLEST PEOPLE in the entire tenth grade! (Jeez, a lot of my Disney stories have drinks in them. I find I have the same problems with weddings and first communions.)
Anyway, I’m not usually one for making New Year’s resolutions — I’m keenly aware of my raft of personal failings on most days, thank you very much, designating a holiday to accentuate them seems needlessly vengeful — but I will tell you this, faithful reader(s) and/or people who got here by Googling “Tinkerbell Is Of Satan” and/or “Xerox Scrabble Cha Cha”: There is literally nothing on the planet that will leave you more relentlessly dedicated to your workout/exercise resolution than spending six hours at a Disney theme park in which most of your neighbors are unclothed and absorbing for yourself the unspeakable horrors of the aging male physique.
Tinkerbell pauses on a mirror to address her pathological body-image issues.
Island Packet — So I have a 3-year-old son who is scared to death of Tinkerbell.
This, on its surface, is not a bad nor even surprising thing, because I discovered something recently while watching “Peter Pan”: Tinkerbell is a jerk. She’s jealous, she’s petty, she’s got irrational body image issues and she’s consistently mean to the Darling children, even the dippy one with the top hat. I’ll be honest: When my son started saying, “She scares me, Daddy,” I thought, “You know what, son? Six-inch-tall bioluminescent faeries with unexplained powers and vengeful attitudes scare me too.”
Still, having a 3-year-old son who is frightened of Tinkerbell — or anyone involved in “Peter Pan,” which on the whole is about as scary as a high schoolnewspaper class — is not something you exactly run around the playground sharing with the other fathers, particularly if they’re throwing a football around.
I bring this up partly because at some point in the distant future I plan to use my son’s fear of Tinkerbell to get him back for some adolescent transgression involving cigarettes or a fire alarm, but also because his fear of winged blondes stands in direct contrast to things he is not afraid of in “Peter Pan,” which is the latest Movie We Watch So Frequently That Exposure To The DVD Laser Will Soon Cause The Disc To Burst Forth In Glorious Combustion, which will make him extremely displeased but probably sound really cool. (Let me amend that: We watch the first half of “Peter Pan.” And then we stop and watch it again. We are apparently only allowed to watch the first 40 minutes. Honestly, I have no idea how this movie ends. One night, after he’s asleep, at 3 a.m., I’m going to sneak into the living room and watch the end of “Peter Pan,” like a common criminal.)
GateHouse — There are things in life that by design must be regularly amended and upgraded, if not replaced entirely — things like computers, TVs and Howie Mandel. These are created to be temporary (except Mandel, who cannot die except through the use of dark magic) and users understand that their fleeting nature is part of the deal; when you invest in one, you know that in a few short months you will be re-investing in it again, probably while biffing yourself in the head with a stapler wondering why you could possibly spend this much money on the same object. I’ve had to do this just recently with my phone, some tires and a horse.
Conversely, there are other things that, if they are changed in even the slightest, whisperiest, most insignificant manner, will cause a great deal of the American populace to spot-cease being reasonably calm, obedient “Idol” fanatics and instantly erupt, en masse, into a fierce, primal mob of roaring, pitchfork-and-torches rioting, and they are things like income taxes, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s number of children, the removal of Bobby Knight from anything, the scene where Greedo shoots first, the national anthem at monster truck shows, federal economic stimulus plans and It’s A Small World.
Island Packet — I don’t want to make you jealous or anything, but I now travel regularly in the company of an Official Monorail Co-Pilot. This is an incredibly high honor, one that can be achieved only by completing a series of rigorous Monorail Pilot Screening Tasks, such as
Asking the monorail people if you can ride up front, and
Holding out your hand when the Actual Monorail Pilot gives you a card.
As an official Monorail Co-Pilot, which is a title that the Little Man has attained at the precocious age of 4, you have several important duties, such as sitting so that your nose is smushed against the window glass and babbling like a crazy person for about 12 minutes while your parents make small talk with the Actual Monorail Pilot, who has the best job in the world, even considering the forced, spine-bendingly awkward conversations he must have with the hyper-glycemic tourists who rotate in and out of his cockpit every 10 minutes. When I give up on the lucrative and rewarding world of newspaper journalism, I am totally going back to Monorail School.
GateHouse — Big week here — we’re taking the boy to Disney World. He’s old enough now, and besides, it’s the Happiest Place on Earth, especially if your happiness involves purchasing for $35 a lunch bucket of fries with which you could nourish a horse.
It’s also, if I might take just a moment to be grumpy, not terribly happy on the Carousel of Progress, which is the Most Boring Place In The Universe, at least the parts I know about (frankly, Venus looks stupid). The Carousel of Progress is the opposite of fun. If fun touches the Carousel of Progress, both cease to exist. And the Carousel’s continued existence in TomorrowLand not only makes you suspect that someone lobbied for a government Carousel bailout, but also that it pretty much mocks the entire idea of TomorrowLand.
This is entirely true: Last time we were at Disney, we spent the afternoon at EPCOT enjoying cocktails, after which we hit the Magic Kingdom. And at the prodding of my friend Aaron, we proceeded immediately to the Carousel of Progress, where we learned that a light international-flavored buzz can actually be killed by talkative animatronic families from the future (Aaron loves progress and things that move in a circular pattern, so this is basically Party Town to him). Yeah, that’s right. We went to Disney without the kid, without our 4-year-old son. This is only the first in what will be a lifetime of half-truths involving Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and what really happened to most of his goldfish. (No, son, we did not put them in the ocean to be free.)
Writer: GQ, Men’s Health,
the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Indianapolis Monthly, Golf Digest, Vice, BruceSpringsteen.net,
the Indy 500, Fatherly, etc. Proud owner of a Bruce-related Guinness World Record. Even longer bio/clips.