Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Magic Day

A magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat, he can cut a woman in half, and he can even make a grown man disappear –- I’ve seen it. But I can’t say I really believe in magic. That is, I didn’t believe in magic until my wife and I recently took our son to Disneyland.

Going to Disneyland is a major deal to me. My parents took my siblings and me to the “happiest place on Earth” once a year when we were kids. One of the happiest days for me, aside from the day we actually went to Disneyland, was the day my dad would tell us kids, “We’re going to Disneyland.”

My brother and I would pull out our Disneyland souvenirs from the past, which included our Disneyland picture books, and we’d imagine ourselves going on all the rides.

Even when I got older, going to Disneyland was a major deal. Before I could marry anyone, the candidate for matrimony had to pass the Disneyland test. The person had to enjoy a visit to Disneyland as much as I did. Since I’m married, it’s obvious that my significant other passed the test.

So last week, my wife and I decided to take our 2-year-old son to Disneyland. Before the big day, I had to prep the little guy. My son and I watched all the classic Disney movies that Disney turned into rides. “Dumbo,” “Pinocchio” and “Peter Pan” were on the list. We also watched some Mickey Mouse cartoons. After all, you can’t go to Disneyland without knowing who Mickey Mouse is.

My son had to review all the Disneyland trinkets and souvenir books my brother and I used to study before we went to the park. By the time I finished Disneyland boot camp, my wife was probably ready to let my son and I go without her.

The big day finally arrived. We packed up the car, cranked up the Disneyland soundtrack on the sound system, and headed off.

In the Disneyland parking lot, my family and tons of others rushed the front gates. By 8 a.m., the sun was already forcing sweat from our skin. But the crowds and the heat didn’t matter to me. We were at Disneyland.

I had a whole game plan worked out for the day. I knew which rides we needed to hit, and in what order. And I knew what pace we needed to walk to keep on schedule. My dad had designed the game plan when we were kids. I made some adjustments to the schedule throughout the years due to the addition of new rides at the park and the death of some others. Don’t get me started on the tragic loss of the Skyway buckets.

The true enemy of this tale, nonetheless, is the clock.

There’s never enough time to spend at Disneyland -- even with my schedule. Making matters worse, I forgot to take into account that my son doesn’t walk as fast as I do. My boy makes a stroll down the driveway seem more like a walkabout. He’ll find all the little hair-thin cracks in the pavement and stop and say, “Look, it’s broken.”

At about 3 p.m., after going on just two rides, I sat in an Autopia car, trapped behind some kids who decided to cause a four-car “pile-up.” Hot from the sun and from fury, I threw my hands and my ride game plan into the air. “With this delay, we’ll never keep on schedule!” I yelled.

“Please keep your hands and arms and your belongings inside the vehicle at all times,” a voice warned over a loud speaker.

“Sorry,” I said to the bush where the voice came from. But I had given up. There was no way we were going to get on half the rides I wanted to go on. There just wasn’t enough time. My wife handed me a fast pass for the next ride so we could bypass the long line, and that cheered me up for the moment.

But more delays and heat that would kill a camel made my pain and frustration return. “Relax,” my wife said. “We’re supposed to be having fun.”

Her words and the sight of my son’s face as he spotted the “Peter Pan” ride cheered me up.

“Do we get to fly like in the movie?” he asked. My son pretended that he was flying just like Peter Pan does when he flies in the movie. My son even made the swooshing flying sounds.

Instantly, I didn’t care how many rides we got on that day. Instantly, I believed in magic. I believed in the magic of imagination. And it was a great day.

-July 2006

No comments: