Thursday, April 12, 2012
I’m Walking Right Down The Middle Of Main Street USA
It all started with a Disney Sing Along Songs video which Wednesday and I got at a garage sale for 50 cents back in 2000. She was three years old at the time and was enamored with all things Disney-ish, thus we already had over a dozen of those sing along music videos with the bouncing Mickey head ball.
But this one was different.
It was called Disneyland Fun and instead of featuring songs clipped right out of Disney cartoons, this one actually had real people (in REAL embarrassing 1990 clothes and haircuts!) running around Disneyland with Mickey, Goofy, and the gang. Wednesday and I brought the video home and sat down together on the couch to watch it.
At first, once we squinted beyond the bad acting, it was just kind of cute. There was Mickey Mouse washing windows, Chip and Dale sweeping the sidewalks, and lots of other classic characters helping to get Disneyland all spic n’ span for the visitors before the gates opened. Awwww. Wednesday and I looked at each other and smiled. Then the crowd gathered, Mickey welcomed them into the park, and the visitors went dashing for the rides in all directions. Wednesday giggled at the thousands of running people. I giggled at their acid wash denim jackets and Saved By The Bell hair.
But then something happened….
We kept inching closer and closer to our tiny TV to get a better look. Soon, we were both silent, unblinking, on our knees on the floor, with our noses mere inches from the screen. Mesmerized.
I can’t pinpoint the precise moment Wednesday got hooked, but I know exactly when I was: during the song “I’m Walking Right Down The Middle Of Main Street USA” which played as Mary Poppins, Pluto, and Alice in Wonderland, etc, danced in a parade down Main Street. Suddenly—*WHOOSH!*—I was transported back to the three (or was it only two?) (more on that debate in a future post) trips my family and I took to Disneyland in the 70’s and 80’s when I was little. I remembered everything all in one moment: The little ticket books my dad let me flip through! The Dumbo toy I bought in the gift shop! Soaring over Fantasyland in a red Skyway bucket! The fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s castle late at night! It’s A Small World! Pirates of the Caribbean! The Haunted Mansion! The Main Street Electrical Parade! I swear, I could taste the sweet Disneyland air right there in my living room!!!!
Somewhere in the middle of that “I’m Walking Right Down The Middle Of Main Street USA” song, there was a line, “for the time of your life you oughtta find yourself here.” When they sang that, I heard little Wednesday gasp beside me and, suddenly and most unexpectedly, there were tears. MY tears. Silently, they rolled down my face as I felt the Disneyland fever permeate every pore of my body.
(And somewhere out there, the Disneyland marketing team hi-fived each other and laughed maniacally.)
By the way, I actually found the first portion of the Disneyland Fun video for you on Youtube, including the Main Street USA song which reeled me right in and made me cry. In fact, it still does! I’ve seen it probably a thousand times over the years (enough to know exactly when Pluto accidentally stomps on Alice’s foot in the parade) (HA!) and the line “for the time of your life you oughtta find yourself here” STILL makes me tear up every time I hear it. Here it is. Pluto assaults Alice at 5:08 and I start bawling at 5:48….
When the video finished, little Wednesday slowly turned her big, blue eyes to me with a dreamy look on her face and a Cinderella crown on her head and said, “Oh, please, please, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE can we go there someday?” I blinked. Ecstatic, hopeful, happy thoughts chased each other like caffeinated feral cats through my mind.
“Yes,” I squeaked, “someday we will go there, but we will have to work very hard for it. We will have to earn it.” Little Wednesday nodded in acceptance. Even at only three years old, she knew what I meant: Disneyland was expensive…. and money was an evasive, slippery little sucker which often danced sassily just beyond our reach, brattily saying “nyah nyah nyah” at us with its butt cheeks like #&$%ing Jim Carrey.
You see, Wednesday and I have never had much money. In fact, we often didn’t have two spare pennies to rub together. We cut corners a lot and got creative to stretch what we had: We bought most of our clothes and her toys at thrift stores and garage sales, we bought things off season so we would never have to pay full price, we learned to sew, and we rarely ate at restaurants. Wednesday never, NEVER went without or saw herself as poor, but she knew money was tight and that we would need to seriously save up to afford a trip to Disneyland.
And so, we did.
We designated a lidded basket in the corner of our living room as our vacation fund and put all the money we raised into it, nickel by nickel, dime by dime. Wednesday excitedly gathered together some toys she no longer played with and we sold them at a consignment shop—*PLUNK!*—$30 went into the basket. I took a bunch of my old records and CDs and sold them at Half Price Books—*PLUNK!*—$45 went into the basket. We held a garage sale—*PLUNK!*—$200 went into the basket.
Wednesday was sooooooooooooo thrilled watching the Disneyland fund growing. Anytime she found a penny on the sidewalk she would squeal, “DISNEYLAND MONEY!” and hold it up in the air like a trophy—*PLUNK!*—1 cent into the basket. Whenever the basket got full, we would count it up and put it in the bank—*PLUNK!*—25 cents interest. Bigger and bigger the tally got.
While the fund was growing, Wednesday and I bided our time learning everything we could about Disneyland. We kept going to the library where I would check out various Disneyland guide and tip books, while Wednesday checked out Donald Duck and Little Mermaid picture books. Whenever I read something that seemed important to remember in one of those guide books, I would write it down in a little notebook. I had all kinds of stuff in there, including where each and every bathroom was located inside the entire theme park!
It took us about a year to save up enough money. A year. Wednesday was four by then and had been saving up for her dream vacation for 1/4th of her lifetime and Disneyland was pretty much all she wanted to talk about. When it became clear that the dream was actually in reach, we started discussing the reality of it with family and friends to see if anyone else wanted to tag along. We only had one taker; my mom. So, the next stop was the travel agent.
I already knew, thanks to the guide books, which months were the cheapest to travel to Disneyland (October and February, just FYI), and the travel agent confirmed it. She found all kinds of awesome deals for us in October, including free kid’s airfare, free kid’s park admission, and free kid’s meals in the hotel restaurant. Woot! The deal was much better than we were expecting, so we happily signed up for it. We paid for our trip in June of 2001 and then had nothing to do for four months but wait for blessed October and all its Disney-ish goodness.
Or so we thought.
Then some jack*sses did this….
(To be continued….)