It's been exactly one week since The Bootlegs decided to spend the day at Disneyland.
For those of you who might not know, I'm a married father with a son who'll turn three next month. I would've written about this sooner, but it took until today for me to force all of the rage, hate and irritability out of my insides.
Try to imagine a kidney stone shaped like my wife n' son.
Mrs. Bootleg and I were both off last week, as was our son's daycare provider. This, in turn, forced us to dust off our daytime parenting tactics. And, unlike those 17-year-old single mothers, we don't have "high school" and "the mall" to fall back on.
Let the record show that what would come to be forever known as "The Disneyland Debacle" was my idea. The wife and child were merely willing participants who, over the course of the ensuing afternoon and evening, became Exhibits "A" and "B" in why the Black man abandons his family.
Things started out strongly as the boy slept for almost the entire ride up Interstate 5.
He woke up just as we were entering Anaheim and navigating the lunchtime traffic on the crowded city streets. The first sign, literally, of my impending apocalypse appeared about a mile from The Magic Kingdom:
Disneyland Park: SOLD OUT
Think about this for a moment…a theme park that specializes in 200% mark-ups for food, souvenirs and ticket prices has no more room for anyone else's money.
It's not even noon and my mood has turned. Not even the absolutely obligatory reference to "Wally World" at the end of National Lampoon's Vacation could calm me down and I'm pretty sure that I'm the one who made said reference.
At this point, we should've cut our losses and drove home. Instead, the wife insisted that we not "disappoint" our son. Keep in mind, this is the same child who enjoys gagging himself on ballpoint pens and old green pennies.
Let's just say he hasn't set the bar too high for "excitement".
We found a ticket broker amongst all the strip malls and seedy motels that surround the suburbs of "The Happiest Place on Earth". Think of it as the "Magic Kingdom's Moat". And, now, with tickets in hand we proceeded to park in the Pinocchio lot (for only eleven more dollars) and make the l-o-n-g walk to the shuttle, which was inexplicably slower than actually walking.
It took another 20 minutes just to get inside. Every bag, purse and pocket was searched, as those who didn't have at least $200 to spend were promptly turned towards the ATM.
Once inside, Mrs. Bootleg steered us towards what I only remember as "The Main Street Train". It's not really a "ride", so much as it's the train-shaped equivalent of those "people mover" ramps at the airport. Y'know…the ones where you pass on the left, stand on the right and no one who uses them can comprehend either of the two rules.
"Waiting" is the only rule for the train and it appears to be a concept our son hasn't quite captured.
Y'know those parents out in public who stand idly by while their kids completely lose their minds? Trust us…we want to kick our kid's ass. It's just that the 99% of you rooting for us to do so are outweighed by the one percent CPS snitch ratio.
So, Jalen is wailing bloody murder until we actually get on the train, which turned the 10 minute wait into an eternity. As the train commenced with its snail-like circuitous route, I silently stewed and knew that I would rue this day.
After the train, we walked what had to be the equivalent of 70 city blocks and ended up at the carousel. Yes…the most famous theme park on earth and we're in line for the merry-go-round. True to form, it was 10 more minutes of Jalen throwing himself on the ground and incomprehensibly lamenting the fact that he had to wait his turn.
So, what's next? The famous spinning tea cups? Maybe, "It's a Small World?
How can one experience the uniqueness of Disneyland without first stopping by "Santa's Secret Village"? And, yes, I did make the observation that we could've seen Santa and a carousel at the mall that's 10 minutes from our townhouse.
Somehow…somehow…these three stops took more than three hours to make. It was almost sundown before we decided to head over to the especially kid-friendly Toon Town section.
Now, I have a nice cross-section of readers, so let me say, without any exaggeration, that the walk from Santa to Toon Town was the equivalent of navigating a multi-ethnic mosh pit of fanny packs and Kodak cameras.
Upon our arrival in Toon Town, the sun had set and it was then that the temperature dropped about 80 degrees. My San Diego winter wear (baggy shorts, long-sleeve t-shirt) was no match for the dark side of the moon that Toon Town was built on.
The wife and child opted to visit Mickey Mouse in his "house" (expected wait: one hour) while I attempted to avoid the onset of frostbite. Considering Disneyland is the place "where dreams come true", there's surprisingly little to do when you're bitter and by yourself.
At around 6:30, the two of them emerged from the mouse trap. Not surprisingly, Jalen wanted nothing to do with a six-foot "Mickey Mouse" when it came time to take a picture with him. My son's history with costumed characters will someday result in several years of intense psychotherapy.
Here he is at eight months:
Six hours in hell became seven when the wife wanted a $24 dinner, so she could wash down her churro dessert from an hour earlier. By this time, I was numb to it all (seriously, I could no longer feel my face, hands or feet) and only wanted the magic kingdom of a heated car.
"The Happiest Place on Earth"?
My black ass.
"The Happiest Place on Earth"?
My black ass.