Friday, February 12, 2016
After all, it is a Small World
Truthfully, it's sort of embarrassing in way to think of how many times my family and I have made the trip down to Orlando, Florida to visit Walt Disney World. Yes, we are Disneyphiles and our often silly and maybe even obsessive enjoyment of Uncle Walt's creations is facilitated by the fact that we bought into its points-based timeshare for the Disney resorts that surround the various parks. The thing about making so many trips down to Disney World is that at some point you start noticing other elements and events while down there that don't necessarily have anything to do with the rides or the colorful characters.
Back in the summer of 2010 my wife, daughter, and I made the usual pilgrimage down to our “home” resort of Animal Kingdom Lodge for a five-day vacation. My daughter, Darth Wiggles, was eight at the time and still engrossed in all things to do with Disney Princesses, which would include an expensive visit to a place in Downtown Disney where she would have an elaborate makeover to look like either Belle from Beauty and the Beast or Ariel from The Little Mermaid. My wife, the lovely Dragonwife, was eager for her own visit to one of the spas where she would be pampered with expert massages, crazy facials, and whatever they do to fingernails and toenails in those places.
I on the other hand, while totally ready for my own dose of relaxation at the resort pool sipping drinks and reading, wasn't quite feeling right because my son, Darth Spoilboy, had decided to skip the vacation and stay with his best friend. Spoilboy had long since become too cool for Disney and while the best friend's parents said they would make sure he stayed out of trouble, it just didn't feel right with him not with us.
The next day after our arrival we woke up early and caught the bus to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. That morning was utterly gorgeous with bright sunshine complete with little fluffy clouds floating in the sky. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I'll be damned if several of those clouds didn't look like Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy. While watching those uniquely shaped clouds drift by, I found myself imagining a secret Disney airport with a fleet of special cloud sculpting aircraft equipped with cloaking devices. Given how Disney's “Imagineers” are famous for thinking out-of-the-box I only half-chuckled at the utter absurdity of the notion. What made the day even better was that while it was already warm, the usual heavy Florida summer humidity hadn't yet kicked in making it feel like an early spring morning.
As you can expect, my family and I were not the only one waiting for the park to open that morning. There was a sea of humanity all around us speaking scores of different languages all waiting for the Mouse and his associates to perform the opening ceremonies that while sickly sweet nonetheless sure as hell made every child, and a few adults, unbelievably happy.
As I mentioned, once you've visited the parks as many times as we have you start to notice things like the other people around you. That was when my wife saw a married couple that had the dubious distinction of standing out in that crowd.
The man looked to be in his early to mid-sixties, after my wife's pointed them out I immediately felt some envy because the guy had a head full of hair, as compared to mine which had glorified fuzz back in my mid-thirties. Not only that, given the guy's apparent age, his hair had turned a silvery gray color, which gave him the look of wisdom and dignity. Almost running counter to that look of wisdom, that guy's hair was a little longer than you might expect for someone on the other side of middle age.
It was also obvious he worked out because while his face and hair looked sixty he had the body of a forty-year old. Dressed in casual, but neatly pressed shorts, an upper-end polo shirt, and sandals the net effect was that this person looked like a wise old California surfer dude that during the course of his exciting and adventurous life had founded several high tech firms making him enough money that would allow even his twenty-third century descendants to live in idle comfort.
Accompanying that obviously happy gentleman was the reason my wife, and several other nearby women, were staring at him as if he was a leper. It was the woman he was with, she was in her late twenties to early thirties and could have been a younger clone of the actress, Sharon Stone.
Naturally, this lady was blonde with long legs and everything else you might expect someone to have who could star in the remake of the movie, “Basic Instinct.” Okay, I'll admit the second I first noticed the Sharon-clone I pretty much couldn't keep my eyes off her. Dressed in tight yoga or bicycle pants that came down to her knees and a loose, oversized blouse that hung low off one shoulder the woman was utterly gorgeous. The one distinction I have to make though is that Sharon Stone's character in that movie was a psychotic killer, this lady was open and friendly to everyone around her going as far to pay special attention to the young children near them.
Even with their outgoing behavior, I could tell from the looks several women were giving the oddly aged couple that they didn't approve of their relationship. I even heard my wife quietly utter the words “trophy wife” in disgust with the general assumption in her mind being that California Surfer Dude had probably made his money with a wife near his own age only to dump her at some point to hook up with the Sharon-clone that was young enough to be his daughter.
I didn't say anything to my wife about the thoughts I knew were swirling around in her head like the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. She and many of the older, middle-aged women in the area had all judged the man and woman and found them guilty of some gross violation of a nebulous societal norm. In other words, to the accusing ladies California Surfer Dude was a semi-pervert and narcissistic old man preying on younger woman after betraying the older woman who had probably worked just as hard as he in making their assumed fortune. While to them, Sharon-clone was a sorry ass gold digger who should have been with a man far closer to her own age.
On a side note, yes, after having heard my wife and her friends once talk trash about a similar couple years before, I do believe there was a little female envy making up the backbone of their prudish disapproval. And yes, I'm sure there was also a great deal of male envy flying around as well since I, and several other guys had instinctively sucked in our stomachs after noticing Sharon-clone.
In the case of my fellow males, our envy was also directed at the guy since the vast majority of men have neither the looks, vast amounts of money, nor the gumption required to attempt a relationship with a beautiful, younger woman. The simple laws and principles governing male/female attraction would make it a cruel joke for the Average Joe to even attempt. Okay, here is my ubiquitous declaration that even if I did have the looks, money, and confidence to look for a twenty-something trophy wife that I would never do such a thing since I am dedicated to my current lovely spouse. Stop it dammit, even now I hear the belly laughs you all are having after reading those words.
The California Surfer Dude and the Sharon-clone didn't have any children with them but when the opening ceremonies began they were as enthusiastic as any of the children waiting to begin a day inside the Magic Kingdom. Once the park opened and that mass of humanity began the daily flood inside I quickly lost track of California Surfer Dude and his lovely Sharon-clone. But like an under appreciated amusement ride in that very park likes to sing, it is a small world after all.
Later that afternoon, Dragonwife, Darth Wiggles, and I are at the end of the line leading into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. By this time Magic Kingdom was getting rather crowded with the people going into Pirates of the Caribbean having been corralled into those zigzagging, roped off pathways that both keeps everyone under control and allows for the effective use of available space.
Before a fellow Disneyphile starts screaming, yes my family and I make full use of the available fast-pass tickets but the supposed total wait time for Pirates that day was around forty-minutes and our next schedules fast-pass ride was over an hour away. However, long lines at Disney have never really bothered my family despite the general complaining some like to whine about. My wife and I tend to seek out other parents like us and strike up conversations with them. In fact, when my son and daughter were much younger my wife and I always brought a small backpack to the parks fill with essentials like diaper items, a small towel, some dry clothes, and simple snacks. We quickly learned that the simple act of sharing a juice box or cookies with a grumpy and tired kid giving his or her parents hell while in line made the wait for everyone far more tolerable.
As we slowly made our way to the actual entrance to Pirates, I noticed the couple in front of us. It was an older man and woman, obviously childless but nevertheless totally enjoying their time in the Magic Kingdom. The guy looked to be in his late fifties with his most distinguishing feature being his bald head that made him look like Sir Patrick Stewart, one of my favorite actors for reasons that should be glaringly obvious. His lady companion was about the same age, a brunette who had streaks of gray running through her hair that I found wildly alluring. Still going with the idea of basing my description on famous people, that lady looked like the late Ann Bancroft to me. The Bancroft-looking lady's hair even caught the attention of my wife who jumped ahead of me to ask how her hair dresser accomplished such a stylish feat. With my wife and her discussing the cosmetological sciences I quickly lost interest and starting doing the usual guy talk with her male, Patrick Stewart-looking companion.
Funny thing about those roped off pathways, as you do the zigzag to your destination you see the same people time and time again. Eventually the Patrick Stewart-looking guy and I had nothing left to say and we just looked on as our respective female companions continued to talk about the trials and tribulations of finding, then keeping a decent hair stylist. At some point my daughter began demanding my attention forcing me to open up the trusty backpack and find her a snack. As I rummaged through looking for her gummy bears, the line we were in moved several feet. Once it stopped again and settled down that is when Bancroft-looking lady and my wife suddenly stopped talking.
I looked up to see California Surfer Dude, Sharon-clone, and the Bancroft/Stewart couple staring at each other. My wife immediately felt the area temperature drop about twenty degrees and repositioned herself behind me and our daughter.
“Hello Karen,” California Surfer said to the Bancroft-looking lady in a way that suggested sadness.
Bancroft-looking lady, or now Karen given that she had been identified looked back and said, “Well Gregg, you're looking good.” At the same time Karen began openly inspecting Sharon-clone without saying anything, strongly suggesting she hadn't ever met the younger woman before.
“Oh I'm sorry, let me introduce my wife, Lisa,” Gregg said back to Karen that while sounding mostly neutral, I did detect just the slightest hint of screw you in the man's voice.
The verbal pleasantries that passed between the two women were perfunctory and totally without any warmth. In fact, the tension that was in the air was so high I believe the eight-year old Darth Wiggles knew something weird was going on in front of her.
About that time Gregg diverted is attention to the Patrick Stewart-looking guy and said, “Well Chuck, you two make quite the handsome couple.”
Chuck just smiled back in a way that said a long and complex story had transpired between those three people. “Yes,” Chuck said, “Karen and I are quite happy, looks like have you recovered yourself.” He further said while gesturing towards Lisa.”
At that moment Lisa grabbed Gregg and gave him one of those passionate kisses best reserved for the privacy of a bedroom. “Yes, Gregg has completely recovered and in fact he and I are trying to have a baby.” Lisa said after pulling away from her surprised, much older husband.
Yes, I was totally engrossed in the events unfolding in front of me. I know, I should have looked away, but they were in a public place and while I am a crappy writer that little creative flame inside me had already written several possible past scenarios involving those three people. Whatever the case, the line leading into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride remained strangely silent for the rest of our joint time waiting.
Karen and Chuck did ride in our boat going through Pirates, but they didn't attempt to talk with anyone. Once the ride was over and we all exited through the attached gift shop, they quickly disappeared into the afternoon crowd never to be seen again.
Later that night while at dinner my wife and I discussed what must have gone between those three. I somehow came away with the impression that Karen and Chuck had a thing going while she was married to Gregg. After a messy divorce Gregg met Lisa and despite the age difference decided to give the relationship a go.
My wife's back story had Karen and Gregg divorcing with her later hooking up with Chuck, who must have been a friend or acquaintance. Her sympathies obviously leaned towards Karen who she thought probably had to deal with a prenup during divorce proceedings because Gregg in reality was egotistical dick, a fact proven by him marrying the much younger Lisa.
Just for giggles, I'm asking for any who reads this to offer their own theories as to what really happened between the three.
To any Disney haters, I'm ready to go back now!