My continuing complaint with the Mouse, however, is Disney's habit of finding pretty pre-teens, dressing them up like showgirls, letting them learn that the more skin they show, the more they rake in the dough, and then disavowing all responsibility for them when they become spectacular public floozies like Miley and Brittany. Please don't get me wrong--I support public flooziedom wholeheartedly. I just don't think you should get away with wrapping yourself in the flag of family wholesomeness while you're cashing checks for making pedophiles slobber.
Also, when it comes to amusement parks, I've always liked rides, particularly gigantic, scary roller coasters. The steeper the drop and the twistier the curves, the better. And the ones that have loops in them that force the riders to count on centrifugal force for survival are the best. Those rides where they haul you a couple of football fields in the air and drop you straight down are all right, too.
Disneyland has a few of those, but a lot of the space there is taken up by animatronic singing parrots and snowmen, with the occasional busty mechanical wench thrown in for titillation. What rides they do have seem calculated to make you admire the artificial scenery you hurtle by as much as the drops and twists.
It is also the most expensive of the amusement parks here in Southern Cal, and I am a natural cheap American. So it had been maybe thirty years since I had been to the Magic Kingdom when my girl, who is Disneyphile to the bone, having run out of children and gay best friends willing to accompany her to Disneyland, told me we were going. Period.
We arrived at the park on a beautiful sun-kissed California day. It was midweek in winter. We waited longer in line to buy tickets than to get on any of the rides, because Disney offers so many ticket options that it's easier to figure out how to fix Social Security than to calculate the best deal to get inside. When we were ticketed up, my Significant Other insisted I wear a button that said I was a first time Disneyland visitor. I protested. "I'm sure I've been here before," I said.
"When Reagan was President doesn't count," she told me. "Wear it."
The button caused me to be abruptly accosted by strangers, which nobody enjoys. "First time, really?" one matron squealed. I could see she was estimating my age. "Where have you been?"
"Prison," I told her. That quieted her down.
Our next encounter with a fellow wanderer in the dells of Disney was with a chubby guy surrounded by a swarm of dependents. "Isn't this fun?" my girl asked him. He looked at her in disbelief. "I've spent three thousand dollars in four days," he gasped, sounding like he was having almost as much fun as a mortally wounded bison.
We backed off. We came to enjoy ourselves, not to watch somebody torch their credit score and sob about it. "That guy's a bringdown," I said. "Let's go on a ride."
"Right after I go in here," she said, speaking of one of the several hundred thousand souvenir shops in the Magic Kingdom. We shopped a lot while we were there, which mostly consisted of her eyeballing stuff carefully and then choosing not to buy it, and me thinking silently I'd really rather have some nice handy money lying around the house than any of this crap.
We took a break from shopping to ride the Disney Railroad. "Do you hear that?" she asked me? It's Morse code." A mechanical clacking issued from the train station. "They used to have a live telegraph operator. Then Mrs. Disney visited one day. Mrs. Disney knew Morse code, and discovered that the operator was tapping out some not-nice stuff about Disneyland."
There was a man I could sympathize with. Imagine being forced to click out Morse code all day for the entertainment of the masses, who neither understood nor cared about your message. Hours of it. Clicking out popular song lyrics and grocery lists could only take you so far. Sedition is almost inevitable. You start cracking about Walt's mustache and it's all downhill from there. You Morse about the sex lives of Mickey and Minnie, and probably Walt and his wife as well. You start to tap out commentary on the crowd. (tap, tap) fat...fat plus ugly...yeah, I work for a living, you leering jackasses...who put that tie on you?...stripes with plaid...do you get dressed in the dark?
"Ever since then, the Morse code has been recorded."
"I'll bet," I said.
To be continued...