Saturday, October 13, 2007

Litttle Girl Lost

A weekend at Disneyland. Rough job right?

Attended Gay Days Anaheim, the coy unofficial name for three days of fun in the Magic Kingdom, with winking approval from Mickey. I like Disneyland. The artifice doesn’t bother me. If anything, I find it comforting, which I suppose is the key to their success. The magic’s in the clean, careful consistency, the sheer repetitiveness of the images. Alice isn’t just a girl who fell down a hole, Disney insists, she is a ride, and a spinning tea cup and a parade float, graphic t-shirt, film on DVD and an opportunity to sing-a-long for generations to come. Sara Lee, Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker combined can’t match the magnificent force of commerce that embodies a Disney Princess ™. The consequence is a total immersion in Wonderland itself, a magical place where wallets open like blooming flowers as busy Disney bees eagerly pollinate.

There were a smattering of listeners who recognized me throughout my adventure, and I stood by warmly, posing for pictures, feeling a bit like a face character (a young Orange County teen drafted to physically recreate a mermaid, a fag prince, or a young woman undone by a cursed spindle). It continues to be the height of silliness that anyone would want my picture, autograph or the chance to sit next to me on a rollercoaster, but it beats stuffing envelopes or working in a sewer. At least Disneyland feels like an appropriate venue to act out my childhood fantasies of fame, however misguided or narcissistic they may be.

I say all the time that some people never get over being a twelve year old girl and some people (gay men) never get over not being one. It is such a little girl notion to want people to think you are pretty and stand next to you. Guilty as charged I guess. For a day or two at least. Then I can go back to the four walls of my house where neighbors only care that I remember to mow the lawn every once in a while and lay awake at night wondering how much longer I will be driving that loud car down their previously silent street.

My generation, if I have one Carrie Fisher, is trapped in perpetual childhood. The gays live forever like extras in Saved By The Bell, if the new class had never arrived to relieve them of their teen duties. Marriage? No thank you! I just need a date to the prom. Toy collecting instead of child-rearing. I fear the Me Generation has birthed the Me Me Me Generation. Who am I to swim against the tide? Besides, being a kid, for the most part, is a lot of fun. The downside is how easily your feelings can be hurt when things don't always go your way. Hence the fierce partisanship of the country, frivolous lawsuits (this spilled coffee is everyone's fault but mine!), and truly outlandish public behavior by petulant man-children who, like Disney's Peter Pan, never grew up, but did learn to multitask on planks extended over crocodile-infested revenue streams.

After Disneyland, I visited real live children at my Mom's house, spending a few hours with my nieces and nephew before flying home. In between I planned to attend Dennis Hensley's delightful bowling birthday party. Somehow my intensely emotional three year old niece got the idea in her head that she was going to a birthday party too. When no such party materialized, she collapsed in utter devastation by the front door, sobbing inconsolably. My sister rushed to the kitchen to find something that could approximate birthday cake while I tried to explain to her that she really didn't want to come to the party with me.

"It's for old people." I insisted, but she was unbowed.

Through tears she declared, "I want to go to the old lady birthday house!"

How do you explain to a three year old that the party in the bowling alley with cupcakes, a coloring book project, and all the licorice you can eat is strictly a middle-aged affair? In a way, you can't. A Popsicle in her mouth and SpongeBob on the tv and moments later she forgot that I had ever been there, let alone the despair surrounding the never to be seen old lady birthday house.

From the happy confines of Dennis' birthday party, I sped away to the airport for one last thrill ride. Flying still fills me with the childlike wonder that only a barely passing grade in Physics can give you. No matter how many times it is explained to me, I will never understand how that big heavy plane full of people lifts off the ground and travels thousands of miles in a matter of hours. To me it is as magical as the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland. Perhaps we don't get over being a kid because the unknowing wonder of it all is so much better than the crushing miseries of adulthood. The safety bar can barely keep you in your seat, let alone contain your excitement as you whirl over Victorian London, so much better than regulation coach seats and lopsided exchange rates. You spin past Big Ben as the clock strikes "past your bedtime" as you journey past the second star on the right and on until Morning. If only a Popsicle was enough to calm our adult tears and life's disappointments, but for a $91 park hopper pass and a little imagination, you can get by.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You continously crack me up with how self absorbed you are. Listeners recognized your voice and wanted autographs? Sit next to you on a rollercoaster? They probably wanted to push you OUT of the rollercoaster! You are a Z list radio host. Come on now.

Derek Hartley said...

I think it's ridiculous, but you have to let people have their fun. And how could they not recognize the coarseness coming from my hideous, braying maw? Believe me, "anonymous", I am as surprised as you are. Your cowardice is less surprising however. If you truly want to be "anonymous" you should at least wait a few minutes between posting here and sending emails to the show. Timestamps are a stalkers worst enemy, Jesse!

Heidi said...

You are brilliant as always Derek.

From one self absorbed person to another

Heidi

Dan, from San Diego said...

It's not always easy to acknowledge the "Little Girl" inside, but when someone holds up the mirror and explains what he sees with such wit and humor it almost makes me proud of my inner child.

Nicely written, Derek, it was a joy to read.

-Dan, from San Deigo

Derek said...

I think your take on the Me Me Me Generation and how people act is spot freaking on. Bravo!