Preface: Let it be known to the reader that one teenager wrote this piece about the life of another teenager. Some of the events and all of the dialogue have been replaced to provide some failed symbolic pretense, and more importantly, to make our lives look more interesting than they really are. Also, we are a little self-obsessed, but that is beside the point. I hope you all enjoy this work of fiction based off of a true story.
Dear Disney Corporation,
I am writing this letter today to inform you that your Anaheim based park, Disneyland, is solely responsible for the worst day of my life. OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic; call it a delusion, or better yet, a moment. Let me digress, Your corporation, which bases its public persona off of all things good and jolly in the world is 40 percent responsible for the worst day of my life. If I’m having a truly horrific day I may be willing to round that figure up to a whole 60 percent. Did you hear me? I said a whole 60 fucking percent. So now, you are all probably sitting in a nice air-conditioned room, reading this complaint, and already laughing insistently. You may even be forwarding it around the office, you know, for a good chuckle or two. No, that’s incorrect; you probably have some intern in the customer service department reading this in a dingy, damp cubicle, which during the summer months just happens to double as the containment room for all the Disney Princess costumes infested with crabs. If this is indeed the case, I am sorry. Truly, truly sorry. Yet, despite this inequality at the Disney headquarters, you must keep reading. It is your duty, your destiny. This tale will make you a better, smarter, and ultimately more informed person. Or it will just make you cry. Like I may or may not be doing right now. I understand I will not be the only person writing to you today asking for a refund on a ticket to Disneyland or vindictively grading your multiple facilities, but I am the only one with a popular Internet blog. And a broken heart.
During my second semester of my senior year in high school, students, parents, everyone really, counted down to graduation like the atomic bomb was about to go off. It was as if on June 6th, the doomsday clock struck 12 and the world would end. The memories that came before would be just that, memories, and we would all return to dust, never seeing one another again. There were meeting, meeting about meetings, hugs, goodbyes, and parties. Lots and lots of parties. During these last six glorious months of high school I met a girl, and she was pretty cool. We hung out, kissed, and soon my life devolved into something resembling a happy after school special. Then one night we went to a beach, got drunk, then naked, and had sex under the stars. We then got mugged while still naked. Best night of my life. We talked on the phone for hours every night, about our impending graduation, irrational fears of college, and life in general, but most importantly, he talked about how much he loved one another. Then graduation day arrived. We smiled, took photos, said our goodbyes, realizing a chapter of our life had definitively passed. Then two days later the doomsday clock did strike 12. She dumped me. I guess we are all now sons-of-bitches.
Picasso had his blue period, Van Gogh chopped off his ear, and I had the first two weeks of summer. I locked myself in my room, listened to numerous Smiths records, and ate my weight in chocolate pretzels. Multiple times over. My friends stopped by daily, just to make sure I was still breathing, and if I had indeed decided that I was finished with this sad existence I didn’t kill myself in too gruesome a way. My mom had paid a lot for the new carpets.
These same friends, on one fateful afternoon, invited me to go to Disneyland with them. Adrenaline and iconic characters drawn by a notorious racist, how could I not be happy?
Standing in my driveway, awaiting my ride to the grandiose land of Disney, my initial plan was to enjoy the day, pure and simple. Ride Space Mountain, scream during Indiana Jones, and imagine I had Jedi powers during Star Wars. The works. Then my friend’s generic pale white minivan pulls up to the curb, and I open the door, climb in. Oh, shit.
There she is, my ex. Sitting in the back row of this ugly minivan, which could easily double for a rapist mobile on any episode of COPS. Her head is resting against the window, her headphones blaring some music I can’t quite recognize. God she looks beautiful. Maybe she won’t see me. She just waived. I smile, take a seat, and try not to scream. Did my moronic amigos just fail to tell me she was coming today, or was this some sad attempt to get the two of us back together. It doesn’t matter.
I had all these plans, I had plans about plans, plans to enjoy the day, to forget about my past. But now my past is conveniently sitting two feet behind me. My mind, racing faster then the speed of light suddenly realizes that we are going to be quite a large group. Avoiding her wouldn’t be difficult at all. Yes, she will be at Disneyland, but so will millions of other people. Then as we are driving down the 405, 17 out of your 20 people who planned to come on this trip cancel at the last moment. There would be no rescue crew; no one would hear my SOS. We were the minivan crew, and I would have to weather this storm alone.
So we arrive at the park, our senses immediately barraged by bright lights, upbeat music, and the constant buzz of happy children, finally visiting the happiest place on earth. Driving through the parking lot, I let my hand hang out the window, wishing I were one of the birds hovering beside the road. To fly, to be free, is that a parking space? The rapist-mobile then comes to a full stop in the middle of the parking lot, much to the fear of every parent in the general vicinity (Ease of Parking: Grade C). We exit the van, and I glanced around our group, which is currently comprised of my ex (lets call her Bitch), my best friend (lets call him Steve), my high school classmate Alexandra (lets call her Alexandra), and myself. Walking to the front gate, Alexandra hands out the all day passes, and from our vantage point most of the lines look fairly short. Also, my ex and I were being civil. Well with the exception of her habits of saying hello to everyone in the group with the omission of yours truly, and not ever making eye contact with me. Things were looking up.
So we are naturally started our day with the classic Space Mountain. Now if you have never been to Disneyland, Space Mountain is a space themed ride, which makes up for what it lakes in scenery with a copious amounts of excitement inducing twists and turns. (Space Mountain: Grade B+). Also, Space Mountain is one of those rides were everyone and their grandmother knows were the photo camera is located. So after waiting in a line, which is rivaled in length only by the line into an all you can eat Arby’s or the Naughty Nook on a lonely Friday night, we are finally situated in the ride. Steve and Bitch are riding in the cart in front of me, and maybe it was my imagination, but they look really cozy together. You know the stuff, arms around each other, he is smiling like an over eager bro, and she is laughing incessantly. I try to ignore it, focus on the ride, stare at the dark fading plastic safety bar. This little three inch piece of plastic is supposed to save me from all the dangers that await in the dark abyss, but it could never save me from what is right in front of me. All of a sudden, the ride sputters to life and I am flung into the darkness. Did I just see Bitch kiss Steve on the cheek? No, it’s my imagination; the lack of light is getting to me. I can’t focus, the surround thrills fail at penetrating my consciousness. Surrounded by artificial excitement, I start to contemplate how this day could possibly end.
1. Bitch is using Steve to make me jealous, because in reality, she just wants me back.
2. Steve is being an overbearing douche, and Bitch is just being friendly, because at the end of the day she apologize to me, and we will get back together.
3. Steve and Bitch have recently been employed by MTV and the venerable Ashton Kutcher to star in the pilot episode for MTV’s new hit show Punk’d Teens, where teenagers punk each other with acts that force one sad individual to experience an amount of pain far beyond the recommended dosage for that age.
4. Bitch and Steve are secretly lovers and are using this Disneyland trip to rape and pillage my soul. For all intensive purposes, kick my hearts ass.
The cart accelerates back into the station and as it comes to a sudden halt, I am certain it can’t be option four. It simply cannot be, the world will not allow it. The safety bar rises; we depart the ride, and go look at the photographs from our 120-second odyssey through a dimly lit room. Steve and Bitch are kissing. They are officially none of the aforementioned options, but instead a new one, option 5.
5. Steve and Bitch are assholes. I’m going to cry in a bathroom now.
So I ran to the bathroom. Not bothering to tell the others where I was going. I needed to be alone. However, without a map, finding a restroom in Disneyland is rather difficult. (Bathroom Placement: Grade D). I sprinted past Goofy’s smiling face, Cinderella’s outstretched arms, and Pluto’s wagging tail. No amount of Disney magic was saving me today. These creatures were not here to comfort me or impart upon my tattered soul a small fragment of their eternal happiness. No, they were here to see me at my worst. To see me on my knees, being pushed and shoved around, waiting for me to break.
So I walked into the bathroom, and open the door to stall #1. Opening the door, I spy clogged up shit already nearing the brim. Opening stall #2, my luck was no better as the toilet is conveniently drenched in urine. Also it smells. Moving on to stall #3 brought hepatitis inducing odors, as the toilet was occupied by a shitting child and his mother hunching over him providing supportive words. Upon seeing my stunned tear drenched face, the mother screamed, the child giggled, and I just looked like a sexual deviant. During this moment of pure embarrassment, my mind split into a twofold parallel. First, why does no one shut doors anymore, and where can I get some supportive words? My hope was now all pegged on stall #4. It was locked. So I lowered my head, starred at my shoes, and held my breath as I entered stall #1 (Bathroom Cleanliness: Grade D-).
So I sit down on the disgusting toilet, and I don’t feel well. The smell coupled with the lack of new oxygen entering my system is causing my eyes to water, my mouth to shake, and my lungs to burn. I scream, blame it on reflex, or mental anguish, but I wail, I shout. I let the world hear me.
This song of a modern day Harpy does not sit well with the parentals currently inhabiting the bathroom, and I receive a few apprehensive knocks on the door, along with the background chatter, that for some reason they assume I cannot hear. Maybe, they don’t like me venting my anger towards Bitch or modern day society in general. Probably the latter. In a desperate attempt to appease the fears of these View watching women, I try to shit. Because nothing puts mothers at rest more than bowl movements. However, I have a small problem. I can’t. Maybe it’s the tears, maybe it’s what I had for breakfast, but whatever the reason, I am currently unable to launch a brown colored turb from my anus. Instead, I simply fart. Grabbing the sharpie from my pocket, I suddenly feel the urge to document this momentous occasion. Yes, this will be the moment where I finally write down some words of eternal wisdom, in a glorious epiphany I will scribble some text on a bathroom stall, so wonderful and full of knowledge that no one else will ever have to experience this kind of pain ever again.
Instead I write, “Here I sit broken hearted. Tried to shit but only farted.” Yes, “Here I sit broken hearted. Tried to shit but only farted.” I will win no Pulitzer Prize for this, no interpretative reading at the Oscar’s. This result of my life’s experiences will help no one. Instead, some underpaid janitor will just casually erase it at 4am. I’m a mess.
At this unique point in time, park police knocked on the stall door. Accepting my impending doom I open the door. Two overweight, slightly balding men in their mid 40’s grab each of my arms and drag me from the bathroom. I try to say I can walk, but after seeing Minnie Mouse smiling at me from above the bathroom sink I decide to shut up. I guess anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law. Minnie Mouse induced insanity probably isn’t a good excuse. Neither is being really sad.
I see my group standing inside of a souvenir store. I contemplate waving, but suddenly remembered two large men were holding my arms. I try to look away, but like a cliché car accident, I simply could not. Steve and Bitch have moved away from the hats and have started playing with the stuffed animals. God, they looked so happy together. He is chronically laughing, and the way her hair fell in the light. She is so beautiful. And the way she smiles, oh that smile, when we were dating I never saw her smile with that intensity. It is like an energy source, more powerful than wind, hydroelectric, or even nuclear, it was enough power to light up a whole city. It was beauty.
Amanda sees me out of the corner of her eye. Runs over to me, and explains the situation to the security guards. They somehow let me go. Even going out of there ways to wish me a nice day (Security Detail: Grade C for severity, Grade A- for being genuinely nice guys). Amanda, noticing my red puffy eyes, makes a vain attempt to make me feel better. She grabs my arm, drags me into the gift store, and buys me a Mickey Mouse shaped Popsicle along with an oversized hoody with the words, “I left my heart in Disneyland” sprawled across the front in a large red font. Amanda then reintroduces me to the group, where Steve immediately asks, “Where have you been buddy?” I try to ignore him, but I ultimately just shrug and say, “Around.” Bitch still won’t look at me. I can’t stop looking at her.
As the sun sets behind the glorious arches of the Disney Castle, Amanda perks up, affectively breaking the awkward silence, and puts forth the idea of going to see World Of Color as our last event of the day. I nod, exhale, and begrudgingly follow the group. Once we arrived at the theatre, my eyes dart around the room. Signs display excerpts from obnoxiously positive reviews litter the walls, “Color, Spreading Happiness With Every Drop”, “Life: It’s Better Colorful”, and “So Fucking Awesome You Might Just Forget About Your Bitch Of An EX, and Smile For The First Time In Weeks.” Ok, so you got me, that last one was fabricated.
We shuffle into the crowd; Alexandra and I are closely packed in behind Bitch and Steve. This place is packed. Bitch and Steve begins to get cozy again. I am eating a Popsicle shaped like the character that single-handedly defined my childhood. The lights suddenly go down, color begins to fly through the air, and for a moment, I forget. I forget about the break up, this trip, and how it is humanly possible for two people just touching each other to inflict so much pain upon my soul. Then as waves of red clash with rolling hills of yellow, Steve and Bitch begin to kiss. They are now making out. Directly in front of me. I try to look at the colors, I really do. But every time I see a majestic purple projected onto the healing waters of blue, I can’t help but look at Bitch’s tongue slowly enters into Steve’s mouth. Steve begins to feel her, she moans a little. Pink snowflakes are falling from the sky. Also, my Popsicle is melting. She whispers in Steve’s ear. Steve hesitates, looks my way, smiles, and then proceeds to make out with Bitch with a renewed vigor. I drop my Popsicle and Mickey’s face splatters across the cold hard cement below. I also have a bloody nose. The color oozing from my nose, until I have nothing left to give. (World Of Color: A-)
So I run, I fucking fun. I run away from the beautiful color, from my problems, from the world. I don’t know where I’m heading, but I have to get there. I just simply do. I run across perfectly manicured paths, scamper through happy families, dash through food courts where perfectly hung speakers play catchy songs. These tunes presented to children in 4/4 time and with lyrics focusing on the line subject matter of how their future perfect lives as princes and princesses is only achievable if they believe in the power of love. Maybe I loved someone. (Run-ability: Grade C+)
My legs finally give out, and I stop next to a man made pond. Bending over to gasp for breath, I notice the trail of blood that I have created on my little escape attempt. I walk over to my blood stained path, and I spit on it. Trying to erase the evidence from the path, but rubbing my foot across the ground accomplishes nothing. The blood has already dried, stained forever. I cannot escape something that came from myself.
I begin to pace around the lake, check my phone, and look like I’m doing something, anything. I just don’t want people to stare, wonder, “What the hell is that loser doing?” I couldn’t take that right now. Whipping out my phone I draft a long email to my grandmother extensively asking, “What is up?”
Oh, my grandma and my grandpa. Every year around Valentines Day, the greeting card industry markets love as hot sex, expensive candy, and artificial flowers. Yet, that is all fabricated, this false love only exists because of cheesy British pop songs, romantic comedies, and the Lifetime channel. If you want to see true love, watch my grandparents go on a walk. The way they tenderly hold each hand, the way their eyes meet. They are the lifeblood of love; they are its ever-beating heart, never missing a beat, never dying. I want that, I long for that. I want to be the example; I want others to envy our big strong beating heart. Our love was supposed to be like blood in a body, and we would circulate it around the world. But you had to ruin it.
Our love was real. It was legitimate. One night, you told me about a dream you once had. You said you were walking through a forest and all of a sudden these man-eating plants attacked you. These plants ravaged your body, but somehow in there feeding frenzy, decided not to kill you. Instead, they left your mangled body to bleed out on the fading fall leaves. You then proceeded to crawl around the forest and ask hikers in the wood for replacement body parts, because somehow you knew that if you could receive just one limp you would survive. You would be fine. Yet, these people you encountered never gave you an arm, nor a piece of skin, not even a simple toenail. No, these people ignored you, letting your body slowly return to the earth from which it came.
Hearing this story, I wanted to cry, I wanted to hold you. For I would have given you more than my arm. I would have given you myself. You could take my arm, my legs, and my blood for all I care. I don’t need these fickle appendages as long as I have you.
Then I remembered you said you didn’t dream. Were you trying to tell me something? A duck from the pond has wandered up the grass and is sitting in front of me. It quacks (Duck Friendliness: Grade B+).
I want to warn this duck. I want to issue a caution to all the birds living their peaceful lives in this pond. I need to tell that them that the problem with life is not that there is suffering, no, the problem is that there is no limit to suffering. Pain doesn’t care about your age, your level of fame, or your mental state.
So you lie to yourself. You build yourself up as someone important, the hero of your own story. You exaggerate the good times, and ignore the bad. You don’t lie to advance your social standing or to appear mysterious and foreign. No, you lie because it is what your very survival depends on.
I am eighteen years old, and I have seen everything and nothing. Just give me my due. Please. For I am the beating heart. I am the common denominator of one and six billion. Don’t you see what I represent? Yes, I am the confused, lonely, teenage guy, hiding behind a persona of fake confidence and bad humor. But I am also everyone. Because this pain I feel is shared by all. If you join me, I will bleed for you all. I will live with these feelings, the pain, the sorrow, and the lost hope. I will bleed for you; spread my red color around the world. Just tell me I am not alone. Please join me. Join me. We are meant for something more than this. I am not the heart.
We are all the heart.
We need to pump our blood to each other, to feel warm, to feel connected. Let us flow as one being, bearing our shared pain as a unified whole, until our time on this planet is inevitably up. Then when we leave the heart, the person behind us will be there to pick up what we dropped. The blood flows eternal. (Grade A+).
This stark moment of realization comes to an abrupt end when I realize that people are now starring at the crying man having a fictional conversation with a duck. So I stand up, walk away from the pond, and trudge back to my group. We meet up, exchange pleasantries, and casually stroll back to the parking lot. Finding the unfortunate looking minivan, we open the doors, get situated, and begin out drive home. The birds from this morning are still here. They haven’t even moved. Not flown an inch. Sitting in traffic on the way home, I wish I could fly away, but I know I can’t. I have too much to do.
As the minivan pulls up in front of my house, I begin to say my goodbyes. Thank Alexandra for the day out, shake Steve’s and, however, when I turn to Bitch, I hesitate. Do I recite the one sided monologue I shared with the duck? No, my tongue falters, and all I can muster is a lackluster sounding “Bye.” (Grade F.)