I put my hands over my ears, my face contorting towards my mother as the song played over and over. I was trapped, confined in a small boat watching small children cavort in looped sequences over and over…
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The Best Vacation I Ever Had
“It’s a small world after all…”. The song caught inside my brain and as I squinted to step back onto the too clean cobblestone walk to see the man in the bowtie sweeping up in the corner, I made a face that looked like I was about to throw up. This moment, caught in a swirl of nausea and bile, fit for a vomitorium, described the worst moment of the best vacation that I have ever experienced. Most of this world, this chaos of saccharin sweetness that saturated into my pores as I walked along the false main street, looking at the venders whose merchandise was consistently covered with three circles, folded onto one another to commemorate a mouse as the god of the place, consisted of such false happiness that I was infuriated during most of my time there. I looked away from my family, too old and too good to be thrilled by the appearance of costumed characters for whom all I could think of was that the interior of those costumes must be drenched in sweat as they stood out in the heat, signing ’autographs’ with pens and books and stickers all sold by the minions of the mouse. I looked over in disdain as my youngest sibling bounced up to meet the great god of the place, his face beaming as he held out his own little pen and he lifted his eyes to look up into the big plastic eyes of the head of the costume, believing that they were living and breathing beings who had deigned to come to him so he could worship. My patience was short for most of the experience, my arms crossed in prepubescent arrogance as I judged the place through my impatience and zeal for finding rides that would punish my parents, even though that never seemed to work. No matter how thrilling, spilling, twisting and turning the attraction ride, my parents seemed to be able to come off of it laughing and smiling, which only put me into a worse mood. I tried not to infect my family with my disdain, but I moved through the experience detached, engaging in it in brief intervals as we gave all my family’s hard earned money over to help in the worship of these creatures that seemed to have endless ways of taking our cash. A pin, a balloon, even a candy bar with pictures of the demi-gods, the beings to whom this enormous temple had been built all taking from those who came to worship at the doors. There was not a single experience of the day that didn’t have an associated licensed item that could be used in the daily devotion to the mouse and his cohorts. I was blessed with the clarity to see beyond all of this and find the ridiculous moments of excess in worship to be beneath me. At one moment, after a very long day having used their transportation to travel from place to place until the fumes from the bus only served to encourage the horrific smells and air inside the monorail, I exploded. I quoted Marx. I quoted Shakespeare. I quoted Bobby who had made fun of me when I told him where we were going on vacation. I told them that they were spending money in a place that was the epitome of capitalistic horrors and that I was ashamed. I lost my temper until my eyes stung with tears and after being told to go to sleep, I did. I slept hard and long, dreaming of spinning teacups and a mad hatter spinning the world. When I woke, I was calm and my family acted as if I had never said anything to them except one moment when my father looked at me and grinned, asking “so, you’ve read Marx….did you understand it?”. I did not fully understand it at the time, only enough to use it as a
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