By Scott Sullivan
When I visited Disneyland as a boy I asked my Dad how it was different than anywhere else in California.
“It has gates, charges admission, then people wait in line to pay more to do stupid things,” he explained.
But how is that different?
Like a fine wine the park gets better. Fifty more years of fermentation showed last week when a 5-minute family brawl broke out in Mickey’s Toontown.
Others near Goofy’s Playhouse responded by grabbing cell phones and shooting videos of the melee. Naturally they went viral.
Fun began with a man arguing with a woman pushing a stroller with two young girls in it. She spat in his face, he punched her and other family joined in. An old woman in a wheelchair scooter who stood up to intervene was floored by a right to the face. Fists and profanities flew, children cried and some park goers tried to stop it. At last security arrived.
“All happy families are alike; all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in “Anna Karenina.” They should have sat everyone down for a joint reading of his 800-plus-page tome that followed, but hindsight is 20-20. I’d have needed more than a stroller, likely a forklift, to tote enough copies to them of that tome.
Where were Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy when all this happened? Imagine prancing around costumed in heat with your job to spread joy while behind the masks you are cursing the idiots who make your profession possible. Who isn’t mad in The Happiest Place on Earth?
I’d like to be there with a cell phone camera when they go at it. “Donald lands a left!” I’d narrate. “Mickey swings a stroller and smacks him on the beak! Minnie bitch slaps Daisy! Pluto is biting everyone! Goofy opens fire with an uzi!”
When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Ensuing videos show marketers piling on to pitch self-defense tactics, body cams, teargas and Christian counseling.
The fight’s soundtrack suggests participants should pay to increase their word power. Repetition makes even the funnest 4-letter words grow tedious.
With Tolstoy that’s not a problem. Russian last names can occupy half the alphabet. Before reading him I cursed constantly and sought new venues — funerals, weddings, kiddy parks didn’t occur to me — to exercise free speech rights in. Should a brawl break out, better yet.
Then I read “Anna Karenina” — till I grew comatose. No need to call security. When I woke up I wondered which of the book’s lines had hit me hardest:
- “The more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything”? Nah, I already knew people at work that way.
- “Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be”?
- “Everything intelligent is so boring”?
That one was the clincher. Screw Tolstoy. I gave up reading to watch the fight time and again for lessons.
I learned the world has become my own private California. Think of it: fees and gates everywhere. Signs and slogans say what to think; thanks for saving me that trouble.
I visited Disneyworld — bigger than Disneyland and in Florida, but same difference — too. By then I was into zen and the crowds, heat and clamor others desire were to me oppressive.
I went back to run a half-marathon there years later. Why hit your face with a hammer, then repeat it? I did not suffer less, which was reassuring. Since I was a running editor and the whole trip was comped, I couldn’t afford not to do it.
I finished first — my left hamstring blew after just two miles — so I had the race med tent to myself. A Michigan woman working as an Orlando sportswriter and I got laughing, but I was hurt and still am married, not necessarily in that order.
I limped to my car to go visit Dad, who was dying not far from the finish area. “Someday, son, this all will be yours,” he said.