Friday, February 6, 2009

"Memories Of A Place I Didn't Visit"

I’d love to tell you about when my daughter took me to Disneyland on my birthday.

I’d enjoy describing how she picked me up and drove us to the Magic Kingdom, where, it turned out, as she later astutely observed, the longest line we waited in all day was in the parking lot. The park itself was not crowded. I have no idea where those parking lot people went.

I’d enjoy relating how we walked up to the ticket window and Anna announced, “It’s my Dad’s birthday.” She wasn’t showing off. “Birthday People” get into Disneyland for free. (Saving sixty-nine bucks!)

We also get to wear a large button that has an arcing “Happy Birthday” on the top of it, and Disneyland painted along the bottom, leaving a scrolly-looking place in the middle where the “Birthday Person’s” name can be printed on it with a Sharpee.

We didn’t have a Sharpee. And the ticket seller had neglected to print on my name. But I wore it anyway, and whenever we passed a Disneyland employee, they cheerfully called out, “Happy Birthday!”

Finally, we met an employee who said, “You don’t have your name on your button.” He immediately picked up a Sharpee and printed it in. For then on, whenever we passed a Disneyland employee, they cheerfully called out, “Happy Birthday, Earl!”

I felt like I was in an episode of The Prisoner, or a character from The Truman Show. Surprisingly, it hardly felt creepy at all.

It was really cool to run into the other “Button People”, people who had the same birthday as me. They were all over the place, Feb. 4’s of every age, race and gender. Somehow, I know it sounds bizarro, but I felt this cosmic kinship with them, as if all of us had chipped off the same planet.

Standing in line, I blurted to a female Feb. 4, “We should keep in touch!” To which, she replied, “We should meet here next year!” I could well have been mesmerized by the moment, but she sounded like a younger, female version of me.

It was wonderful. There were versions of me everywhere!

I could go on about how Anna and I liked the same rides, the not scary ones, demonstrating with some certainty that there’s a transferable gene for “wimpiness.” We hit the Peter Pan ride, then on to Pinocchio. No “Space” anything, no “Splash” anything. Our boldest dip into scariness was Pirates of the Caribbean, which begins with a prodigious drop. We were terrified – almost equally – but we got through it together.

I could describe my pride when Anna bought me a souvenir with her own money. It looks like a little pirate’s sword sheathed in a scabbard with this metal…something that hooks onto your belt loop, letting it hang down like a real sword, except it’s a pen and it writes red.

Pirate’s Blood.

I could chronicle the Jungle Cruise, where the guide wasn’t as funny as the Jungle Cruise guides from some previous visits. I could talk about Autopia, where I drove my fake car as problematically as I drive my real one. I could include my disappointment at hearing that It’s A Small World, my favorite wimpy Disneyland ride of all, was closed for repairs. I think they were taking out Iran.

I could rattle on about the new Buzz Lightyear ride, where you shoot laser guns at targets from a moving vehicle, which was so much fun that when it was over, we ran back to the “Entrance” and went again.

Most special of all, I could try and convey the inexpressible joy of being escorted around Disneyland by a delightful grown woman who, on countless occasions, since age 3, had been escorted around Disneyland by me.

It would be great to tell you about all of those things.

But I can’t.

My daughter didn’t take me to Disneyland on my birthday.

I was sick.

Tomorrow, Dr. M and I are leaving for a week at this spa we go to in Mexico. (No product placement on this blog.) After many visits there, I have fashioned my own personalized Men’s Workout Program. The program is comprised of three elements: Men’s Nap, Men’s Hammock and Men’s Bath.

I have left some little vignettes to tide you over. I hope you enjoy them.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a really swell daughter, but sorry you apparently didn’t get to experience that vaunted Disney post-natal sense of fraternity. Try wearing this button around for the next week: “Cumpleaños felices EARL Mazatlánd.”

Anonymous said...

I'd love to comment about how nice your trip to Disneyland would have sounded if you hadn't been sick but my hands are frozen from the cold up here in Canada.

I hope your recovery continues in Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Reading how you didn't get into Disneyland for free because it was your birthday, I thought, "That would make a pretty good episode on 'My Name Is Earl'." Number 295 [on Earl's list]: Lied about my b-day to get into Disneyland for free.

john brown said...

Maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that it'll be some IDF pilots that take out Iran.