SK is in So Cal right now, on choir tour with Whitworth Choir, and spent a very cold and rainy day at the Magic Kingdom. I suppose if a person has to be cold and wet and outside all day, there are worse places than Disneyland to struggle through the trauma of it. As E would say, "Sounds like a first-world problem to me."
I/We have a rather long, sometimes humorous relationship with Disneyland. I'm a great fan of amusement parks. Funny about that. I do not like heights, especially don't like high, windy mountain roads in automobiles, but put me on a roller-coaster, and I'll ride all day, with my eyes wide open and my hands raised. There might even be a scream or two--at least there would have been before I became old, wise and dignified. Anyway, I think this love of such places began before I was born. According to family lore, when my mother was nine-and-a-half months pregnant with me, she went with my dad, brother and her parents to the Land of Disney for the day. She was tired of sitting around waiting, and back in the olden days, as it were, there were no restrictions on pregnant women riding rides, so Mom gleefully rode the Matterhorn, which was the largest, newest ride in the park at the time. I was born the next day.
I went to Disneyland a couple of other times as a little girl, but the next time I have a strong memory of it was twenty years later when I was visiting my sister, The Dump, at Cal Tech (have I ever mentioned that I come from a fairly smart family?). One of the first people I met at Cal Tech was Dump's new boyfriend, whom I'll call Eric (since that's his name). I'm not proud of this now, but I was appalled by Eric. He was just so, so...how shall I say it? Nerdy? Strange? Incapable of social engagement? I don't really remember anymore. I do remember that he had one eye that was cast oddly, so I wasn't ever quite sure if he was looking at me or not. I'm pretty sure I was neither kind nor tactful when I got Dump alone. Anyway, one day while we were there, we went to Disneyland with Eric. And this is the really bad part. Dump and I spent the entire day at Disneyland speaking German. Just so Eric couldn't understand what we were saying. Honestly, I can't think of anything I've ever done that was quite so downright mean. Unfortunately, as I'm writing about it, I can hardly keep from giggling thinking about it. How ridiculously immature. (Obviously, Eric and Dump didn't last, though they went on to be great friends and he is quite happily married, I believe. Thankfully!)
Fifteen years later, my own family spent a few days in the magic Kingdom over 4th of July week, with 100,000 of our closest friends. I was the tour leader of a choir my close friend KM directs (and E sang in), so didn't really have much time with our other children, being too busy wandering between groups of children in matching clothing. I did, however, manage to ride a few rides. At one point, I caught up to JM (K's husband), who was with a group of kids about to ride the then new Indiana Jones ride. I cut right in line next to them. While we waited in line, we began to smell something, causing us the natural reaction of lifting our feet to check who had stepped in dog-doo. But seriously, dog-doo in Disneyland? No possible way. Then we saw it. Er, him. Right in front of us was a grown man, a tourist with a camera around his neck (but then, who exactly ISN'T a tourist at Disneyland?) with a GIANT brown splotch on the back of his pants. I am not making this up. Poor man. But still, can you imagine? About that time we got to the point where the line divided to get into the ride. When that man went right, you can bet we (and quite a stream close to us) went left. Just think of the seat after that. On second thought, don't!
That same trip, because the choir was singing at Disneyland, we 'got' to walk in the back-lot, or behind the tall walls at Disneyland. Every so often as we were guided through the maze of stalls and alley-ways, the escort made us stop. The children in our group made this a necessity. You see, there is a strict policy at Disneyland of never allowing children to see any character without their heads on. So the dwarves, Dopey, and Mickey himself had to scurry out of sight, presumably carrying their heads, before we could pass their way. I'm pretty sure they fooled all of us.
Six years ago, we returned to Disneyland with Dump and her sons. It was Christmas week, and everything was beautifully coiffed for the season. Unfortunately, poor SK had, of all things, a nasty in-grown toe-nail we had neglected to take care of before heading south. She honestly could barely walk, and the thought of an entire day was sheer torture. So we rented a wheelchair. And this is when the fun began. For one thing, there were some unexpected benefits to having a 'disabled' person in our group. The ride operators took one look at her and hustled us to the front of the ride. It was quite the boon. Beve took SK with him on a whole slew of rides even when she was tired, just for that reason. At another point, when we were down at the riverfront, a blues quartet was singing. We had SK parked off to the side as we listened. Unexpectedly, the lead singer moved over and began singing a rather sweet song to SK. Beve, Dump and I couldn't look at her as she sat there. SK smiled but inside was incredibly embarrassed. It was clear the group thought she had a wasting disease of some kind. Poor thing. "Get me out of here," she said afterwards. She didn't want to stand up and walk, though she had part of the day, because she didn't want them to feel badly.
Yep, the strangeness of our times at the Magic Kingdom.
That's it. I realize I should have some kind of spiritual message about it. But all I can say is that I'm thankful that the real Kingdom is built on the Rock, and not such shifting sands as this. It's fun and games, but also smoke and mirrors, and, in the end, signifying nothing.