If you'd been sitting in the back seat of my Volvo V50 (turbo) this afternoon, eight months and nine days to Bar Mitzvah, while we frantically drove across town to get to the Jawa's appointment with the rabbi, you would have overheard the following conversation:
JAWA: I can't wait for the summer after my bar mitzvah.
ME: (glancing sideways, then looking back just in time to avoid rear-ending a bus that has unsurprisingly slammed on its brakes for no reason) What? Why?
JAWA: Lets see... in the summer of 2011, after this is all over, we'll be able to take vacations again.
If you'd been in the back seat of our car and could read my mind, you would have heard me forcefully explaining to the child that this Bar Mitzvah thing is by no means a requirement, and that I'm sorry he's suffering through a year of no vacations because we're spending not only school tuition -- a sum not to be sneezed at unless your last name is Getty or Gates -- but more than doubling the outlay paying for his own personal rite of passage into adulthood.
You might have heard that. You might also have heard me guessing that what he's talking about is the much-ballyhooed trip to Disneyworld that he's decided we're taking following his eighth grade year. The kid is nuts for Disneyworld, and he knows that I, having grown up 10 minutes from the original Disneyland and logged at least 100 trips there have a very low interest level when it comes to a proposed (expensive) family vacation to Orlando, Florida.
He's a clever one, that Jawa. When he first latched onto his Disneyworld dream, he was relentless in sharing it with us. Not a day would go by without him wanting to discuss which hotels we'd stay at, which park we'd go to first, which rides we'd go on and in what order. He got a new computer: the screensaver quickly became Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Over time, he's gotten more shrewd. He no longer lays out his entire Disneyworld plan, though I don't believe for a second that he hasn't got it figured out down to the last minute. He's probably honed it to perfection, given how many man-hours he's devoted to it.
But he keeps his cards hidden. Instead of blurting out "WHEN WE GO TO DISNEYWORD" and then waiting for confirmation (which never comes, at least from me), he injects Disneyworld facts into regular conversations. It's kind of like product placement in movies. I guess he figures that we'll get so used to having Disney as a regular part of our lives that it will seem only logical that our return to the vacation scene involve a trip to Orlando.
He's not fooling me. He's as obsessed as ever. I watch him downloading all of those Disney videos from youtube. Not Disney videos as in "Snow White" or "The Rescuers;" I'm talking videos of rides at Disneyworld. He takes a bunch of them, edits them into one long video, then adds music. Then he calls us in to take a look, perhaps figuring, correctly, that we'd be so impressed by his filmmaking skills that we'd overlook that fact that he's trying to brainwash us.
I used to be a big Disney guy. Growing up so close to the Magic Kingdom, you can't help it. I sometimes tell people that in Orange County, Disneyland takes the place of the real memories normal people have. You had your heart broken in a park, or at the beach. I had mine broken at Disneyland.
When I was in high school, it seemed like half the people in my class had jobs at Disneyland. Scott Frederick even snagged one of the highly-sought-after positions as the guy who walks around with a broom, sweeping stuff up. We heard those jobs paid something like $11 an hour.
Certain people, well, okay, people who took drama, got jobs as actual Disney characters. They were the ones wearing the Chip and Dale suits or flying through the air during the Main Street Electrical Parade. They were a breed apart, and we heard tales of their wild parties.
I never worked at Disneyland, but one time, I went with Roger A. Hunt to Disneyland to pick up his paycheck. Though it cannot be verified, I swear to you that I saw Snow White sitting at a table, eating her lunch, smoking a cigarette.
Would it have been better not to substitute Disneyland for all of the places normal people do their growing up? I'll never know the difference. Fact is, I feel a little guilty for denying my Jawa multiple and regular Disneyland experiences, but I can hardly stand the place anymore. Disneyworld sounds like Disneyland cubed, so minus my 30-plus years of memories, I can't imagine I'll like being there very much.
In the end, that's meaningless. I'll suck it up and stick with the program. We'll pay for this Bar Mitzvah and then start saving for a trip to Orlando, Florida, where we will spend multiple days at multiple Disney parks. I even hear they have water parks there, though given that I heard that from a source (the Jawa) who undoubtedly also believes they have streets paved with gold there, I'm going to reserve judgement until I see it for myself.