Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Unhappiest Man on Earth

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I'm in Florida with my family and today we hit the Magic Kingdom! The happiest place on Earth! The place where dreams come true! Where everyone is a kid again!!

That is... everyone but Sir Grumpy McCrank. Also known as, MY HUSBAND.

Ah yes, see, everyone's been saying for weeks now, "Have fun! You'll have a great time!" And I smile and say, "Oh yes... I'm sure we, um, will..." but they don't realize that I tend to go to theme parks with my brother, or friends, or anyone but my husband because he hates this sort of thing. My daughter is 8, and he has never taken her to see fireworks, because he hates the crowds and the noise and fireworks are stupid and do you know how long it will take to get out of the parking lot??!! She's been to Canada's Wonderland once, and that was with me and my brother. We could drive for an hour to a restaurant, and we walk in and if the host says it's a 15-minute wait, my husband storms back to the car and starts the engine. We'd better be in the car with him or he's leaving us there. His idea of fun is sitting in a basement by himself playing with the levels on a song he's been recording for THREE YEARS. (It's good, Rob, it's good, just release the damn thing and stop going all Kevin Shields on it for god's sakes...) But make him stand in a line, or even in the vicinity of people, and he comes off as a claustrophobic with Tourettes.

So... see, you have to understand... I was going to Disney World with the Old Man from A Christmas Story. And when you spend the day with him, I'm afraid dreams just don't come true.

So, to lift my spirits after a very long, tiring day where I went on a total of two rides because there was no goddamn way he was waiting in line for... does that thing say three hours?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F&$@ING KIDDING ME... I'll relay some of the things we all had to listen to all day:

"Well, the one thing I've learned about Disney immediately is that dreams might not come true, but they DO come with a side of fries."

[After a kid sounds like he's coughed up a lung beside us]: "If the Bubonic Plague ever comes back, its origins will be HERE."

Me: I can't believe you haven't made some comment about how this is the perfect place for terrorists to hit.
Him: Nah. If terrorists bombed Disney World, by the looks of the people here, it wouldn't affect the U.S. economy one bit.

He constantly sang Elvis Costello's "This Is Hell" while we were standing in line for "It's a Small World."

Him: What the hell is this ride anyway?
Me: It's a bunch of little animatronic dolls singing "It's a Small World After All." I saw it when I was 7 and thought it was amazing. I went back on it when I was 15 and thought it was crap. But I think the kids will like it.
Him: Oh my GOD why are we lining up for this?!
Me: It's the inspiration for The Simpsons episode where Lisa drinks the water and goes nuts. You know, "I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN!!"
Him: Really? Well, in that case, let's go line up. I want to see this.

Standing in line: "This is hell... this is hell..."

Me: You can say what you want about this place, but it's in impeccable shape. Look at the castle. That thing's got to be like 50 years old or older... and it looks brand new.
Him: Are you kidding? It's got NETTING holding it together, just look at those spires! That thing is coming down.
Me: [sigh] Those are CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. They are nets of Christmas lights.
Him: Oh.

"Can you tell me why so many middle-aged women are wearing mouse-ear hats? Where the hell else are they going to wear the damn things after they leave this park?" [I must admit, I'd been thinking the same thing.]

Him: What in GOD'S NAME is that person eating over there?!
Me: That's a turkey leg! Can you believe it?? That's what I was telling you about two years ago when Sue and I went to Universal Studios. They sell them in little carts with popcorn and stuff. Isn't it disgusting?
Him: Good Christ, I bet it's got more bacteria on it than the street does right now.

Him: Did we park in the Heroes or Villains lot?
Me: We were in Peter Pan.
Him: That doesn't answer my question!
Me: I'm sorry, do you remember Peter Pan hunting down Captain Hook to kill him? What do YOU think he was??
Him: Oh, who the hell watches these stupid movies.

There were so many more, but I'd tuned him out after a while. My daughter and I broke away at one point to go to Ariel's Grotto (insert hubby's Hugh Hefner joke here) and had a lovely time waiting in line for 85 minutes, laughing and looking at the things on the walls on the way in. For that brief moment, we had a blast. And then it was back to Crank Central again. We found him standing outside the Winnie the Pooh ride, complaining that it was the worst 3 minutes of his life while my son sat next to him happily eating a "grossly overpriced" ice cream cone.

So... I want to come back some time. If any of you are Disney fans, let me know and I'll go with you instead. Tomorrow: my husband will ruin Animal Kingdom.


Graeme said...

Um... Julie and I are planning on going in mid-February when we're in Florida. You'd be welcome to come but you have to promise to leave him at home!

I found this highly amusing. As someone who loves such things, naturally I want to take your side. But loyalty to my gender dictates that I suggest you allow Rob right of reply...

Ali Bags said...

I was brought up by two people like that - my mother AND father. I have always said my mother's autobiography should be called 'I couldn't be bothered to stand in the queue'. She always refused to take us to see Father Christmas at the department store because as she said, 'Why do you want to go and see some old bloke dressed up in a stupid costume?' She didn't believe in lying to children!

Fred said...

The next time your husband gets grumpy, just quote the extended line from Sartre: "Hell is other people in line at a Disney ride."

I love "It's a Small World" ride. I made my friends go on it with me, time and again. Now I have to find new friends. But I still love it, and I drink the water every time.

Efthymia said...

Think of it this way: would you have had such great writing material were he not this way? :)

OK, everything is indeed seriously overpriced (at least judging by my experience at Eurodisney) and waiting in queue for 85 minutes does sound hellish to me -however, I have stood longer for concerts, and I could wait all day were I to ever visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
You know, despite the attitude, he IS doing it; whining is probably his only way of coping (although I'm sure any excuse he may have doesn't make it better for you).

Nikki Stafford said...

Graeme: I'll see if he's OK with me cutting and pasting the lengthy FB post he wrote at the same time I was writing this, and you'll see the grumpiness first-hand. ;)

Ali: My dad was like a toned-down (and saner) version of Clark Griswold, so he was the one going, "It's 6am, let's get up now kids and get to that park, YEAH!" My mom, on the other hand, would roll over and say, "Go without me." She hated things like this. I inherited my dad's exuberance, and married the other person.

Fred: Going on the Small World ride this time, I loved it, too. And it's amazing to see that a ride that old is still so clean, well painted, and doesn't show its age other than the animatronic dolls just looking very 1950s. My kids loved it, so that's all that mattered.

Efthymia: The only thing that kept me going in the second half of the day was realizing I could turn this into a blog post. ;)

Ashlie Hawkins said...

Hahaha - a claustrophobic with Tourettes - amazing. Can't you just slip him some happy pills or something and tell him to enjoy himself?

humanebean said...

"Sir Grumpy McCrank". LOLZ!

Now, must spend several minutes cleaning my monitor. Seems to have picked up several minute drops of coffee and bagel shards during the time it took me to read this post.

Marebabe said...

As a big fan and repeat visitor to D-World, I can offer these words of comfort: At least you’re not there in the steamy, muggy, heat-stroke time of year, when the pedestrian gridlock and unbelievable lines can take up to half the fun from your day. We have found that the BEST time to visit D-World is late January to early February, roughly a 2-3 week window. Pleasant, cool temps, and hardly any crowds at all! Imagine waltzing right in to Spaceship Earth, no waiting, not even a minute. We’ve done it, and heartily recommend it. I hope your remaining time there will get better.

Dusk said...

You are stronger then me, I would have snapped a while ago and probably pushed him out of the boat in It's A Small World or just pretended the kids took off a chased after them and conviently "lose track" of where I wasuntil I got into the parking lot to go back to the hotel.

Having a leg disablity has drawbacks, but being able to skip lines with the pass is a big silver lining! Although it was almost completly dark, we could still feel the dirty looks we got as we walked past the line in the Harry Potter ride at Universal!

Blam said...

Me: [sigh] Those are CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. They are nets of Christmas lights.
Him: Oh.


I loved Disney World as a kid. We used to go rather often during visits to my grandparents' in Florida. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of those trips — one of the mostest early and fond is getting a pencil case for school at a kiosk made from thick, singularly aromatic plastic that surely was outlawed by the time the '70s were over.

I haven't been since high school, though, a few years after EPCOT Center opened and there were still signs like "Norway: Under Construction". So I can't promise that I would love the experience now, but I love the thought of it (absent the walking and standing that I literally couldn't physically deal with anymore). My sister and her husband just took their kids last year at the perfect ages, with the kind of seriously scheduled plan of attack that I would screw up half and hour into Day One.

I still hold out hopes of going again. EPCOT would be fun, and I would love to see it all through a child's eyes (ideally my own children's), but honestly I just want to experience the Magic Kingdom again myself. According to the family the crowds and long waits are now made easier by video entertainment and other stuff built into the lines themselves.

LadyKat said...

Hey Nikki, I sent you a message asking your opinion on something but you never responded! How come?

Beachgirl5835 said...

They don't serve booze at DisneyWorld, right?

Austin Gorton said...

Aw, I love DisneyWorld. I've been there a handful of times now. Went there (and Universal, and a Disney Cruise) on my honeymoon, had a blast. Yes, everything is overpriced, but I imagine to your husband everything is overpriced everywhere. And it's a vacation; it isn't like you're doing this every weekend.

As for the lines, I was actually bummed the last time I was there because the crowds were small so I barely had to wait in line for anything. As a result, I missed out on a lot of the cool mood-setting and Easter Egg stuff they put into the line-waiting area for each ride.

Your husband is certainly entitled to be a Grumpy Grumperson, but I hope he's not rubbing off on the kids; I'd hate for their Disney experience to be brought down by a negative dad.

@Beachgirl5835: They don't serve booze at DisneyWorld, right?

They do at Epcot, and in most of the restaurants (at least the sit down, non-counter service ones) at the other parks. The only park that is entirely dry is Magic Kingdom.

Rebecca T. said...

Take me! Take me! I have never been to Disney and I will totally act like a 4 year old on a sugar high, but take me!

Joan Crawford said...

Nikki, I love this post as it is near and dear to my heart. I too am married to man who hates "crowds".

My husband also hates "traffic" - which he defines as more than 2 cars in front of him at a stoplight.


He is a miserable traveling companion:

Wonderful One: I love the color red, can I wear red, I wonder? I know I can't wear yellow - but that's common...
WO: But maybe just red earrings? A touch of red should be okay. Ooh! Look at that house! We need a garden like that!
WO: *opens magazine*

We get to Ikea

WO: Yay!
H: What do we need?
WO: Stuff, a colander, maybe a new TV table, stuff!
H: Okay, good, two things. Let's find the map and see how quickly we can get to them.
WO: I want to look around! That's why I come here. You know this and yet you volunteered to join me!
H: Yes. Okay. *muttering*

*20 minutes of shopping*

H: Are you done? What else do we need? Do you know where you're going? Can't we do this online? There are too many people here; we're in a special hell, you and I. I hate this store.

Hats off to you for taking him to Disney World. I admire you even more now!

Nikki Stafford said...

Graeme mentioned above that my husband should have the right of reply. I keep meaning to post this, but here, in all its magnificent grumpiness, is the Facebook post he made after going to Disney (he was typing this the same time I was working on this blog):

Observations on Disney World after having spent a day at the "happiest place in the world."
1) Most dreams don't come true. They get crushed. But kids won't realize that for a few years. If you learned about dreams from Disney's dancers/singers/characters you'd think every woman needs a prince to add value to her life and save her from some horrible servitude. Maybe that's true in Florida, but I can't say for certain.
2) Fast Pass sounds like a good idea, until you grab one for Space Mountain at 11 am and it tells you to come back 10 hours later.
3) There are a lot of people in motorized carts where the only thing wrong with them appears to be that they are fat. Really fat. Really really fat. Maybe a walk would do them some good?
4) In conjunction with No. 3, everything at Disney seems to come with a side of fries.
5) There's all these really positive quotes from Walt Disney throughout the park. Of course, people forget he was a McCarthyite who crushed his cartoonists union moves by claiming they were all Communists. "You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality." As long as those people are not unionists apparently.
6) Line ups for rides today were all over an hour, sometimes up to three. Went on a Winnie the Pooh "ride" with my son. Spent 85 minutes in the line. The "ride," if you could call it that, lasted 3 minutes. It had all the inspiration of a bad midway ride at a fall fair in rural southern Ontario.
7) The "Its a small world after all," "ride" was the inspiration for the Simpsons episode where Lisa drinks the water and goes on a "trip." I found this ride fascinating for this reason alone. Oh, and the fact it hasn't been updated in 40 years.
8) What's with fully grown women wearing Mickey ears? Do they realize they paid $16 for something they can't wear anywhere else without being laughed at?
9) See point 8, just substitute Minnie Mouse shirts.
10) Elvis Costello's "This is hell" went through my head for much of the day.

Blam said...

FYI: Just in case the Unhappiest Man on Earth (esp. w/ his lovely bride) might be traveling to cover something about the US Open this year before or during the event I thought I'd mention that it's taking place a couple of miles away from my house. I don't follow golf but I found this out last night when my cousin told me that her house, a stone's throw away, is up as a potential rental or hospitality area.

Dusk said...

Counter him with:

1) He doesn't watch OUAT does he?
2) That's why I like getting the disablity pass.
3) Ask John Pinette about rides.
4) Dieting at Disney would make me the Unhappiest Man on earth.
6) See 2)
7) I call that vintage
8/9) Save money on a Halloween costume.


Austin Gorton said...

For what it's worth:

1. A little dreaming never hurt anyone, young or old.
2. I'll give him this one - not a fan of Fast Pass, never have been.
3. He ain't seen nothing til he's been to the MN State Fair. Has he seen Wall-E? Those people in rascals are pretty much the genesis of the people on that ship.
4. To be fair, everything at 80% of the restaurants around the world come with a side fries. That's not really a Disney-exclusive thing.
5. It's possible to enjoy the creations without agreeing with the creator's politics. No one is forgetting Disney was a McCarthyite or reported Nazi sympathizer; we're just looking past it.
6. But did his son enjoy the ride? At the end of the day, that's what's supposed to matter. Also, sometimes, especially at Disney, the anticipation of something is better than the something itself.
7. The fact that it hasn't been updated in 40 years is what makes it enjoyable. It's like a window into an embarrassingly un-PC past. And there's something comforting about knowing it's the exact same ride ridden by past generations.
8. Yes, they do. I suspect they don't mind dropping the $16 for a park-only piece of clothing, especially if they'll be at the parks for multiple days and can wear them then.
9. Also, many women spend a lot of money on a dress they only wear once, and every time I'm in a wedding I have to drop considerably more than $16 for clothes I not only wear for just a few hours, but that I don't even get to keep. :)

Anonymous said...

We just got back from Disney (Jan 6-12) and had an amazing time, hardly any waits on the rides. Average was 0-15 minutes. Longest one we waited on was Winnie the Pooh, 25-30 min tops. My wife, mother-in-law and I took our 4 and a half year old Katie, her first Disney experience. One of the best vacations ever. A joy to watch her take it all in and a lot of fun for us too.

Anonymous said...

fWe just got back from Disney (Jan 6-12) and had an amazing time, hardly any waits on the rides. Average was 0-15 minutes. Longest one we waited on was Winnie the Pooh, 25-30 min tops. My wife, mother-in-law and I took our 4 and a half year old Katie, her first Disney experience. One of the best vacations ever. A joy to watch her take it all in and a lot of fun for us too.

Jim Woods said...

Just got back from WDW, first trip for our 5 and 7 year olds. Had a great time. Wish we were there at the same time as you!

Not a terribly busy time of year, according to the guidebooks, but it still felt crowded to me. FastPass was a blessing every time we used it.

Had several character meals and our kids just loved it. The Bippity Boppity Boutique experience put our daughter over the moon.

We spent three days exclusively in the Magic Kingdom and it was incredible, all the way around!

Jim Woods said...


Had on my Dharma Swan Station logo t-shirt one day and the Space Mountain operator offered me a "Namaste." Figured I'd tie Lost in somehow!