A long time ago in a fantasy land not too far away, there once was a college freshman who longed to escape from both the rigors of college coursework and the protective eyes of her parents for the summer. Some perky and persuasive recruiters combed her campus for the most fresh-faced, malleable, and all-American
slave labor students to join their summer internship program. The competition was fierce, so this young and naive freshman pulled out her rows of earrings, wiped off her heavy eyeliner, swore her hair color was natural, and sweet talked the recruiters into paying her minimum wage to spend the summer at
THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.
THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.
After spending eight weeks sweltering in the Sunshine State’s repressive heat and humidity, this soon-to-be-sophomore had finally
been released from indentured servitude and graduated from the world-renown program. As her eyes glazed over from exhaustion, she reflected upon what knowledge she had gained through this highly coveted internship.
She gained an in depth knowledge of International Relations and how to peacefully cohabit with six people from five countries in one
cramped charming, smoke-filled apartment. She discovered the French were the heaviest smokers and best cooks by far (and usually at the same time); Norwegians often paid for their extensive clubbing wardrobes and blonde highlights by supplying the International Village with any and every drug imaginable; the Germans and the English battled it out nightly for the fiercely contested title of world beer drinking champions; and much to the chagrin to all the roommates, some Internationals could not be taught to flush soiled toilet paper instead of depositing it in the trash can next to the loo.
She learned to
tune-out tolerate the stupid tourists of the world. She was taught not to point but to gesture like a beauty queen waving on a float so she would not offend any foreign guests. As mobs of randy Brazilian youths exited from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride chanting “We wants the Redhead, We wants the Redhead” in her face, she learned how control her temper and not knee them in the groin. Eventually her conscience was numbed to the guilt of bilking a family of four out of a hundred bucks for cheap ponchos, a roll of film, and two plastic swords. She specialized in repressing snarky comments when at least fifty-nine overheated and under-deodorized guests per day asked, “What time is the Three O’clock Parade?” Vodka helped.
She discovered the magic was merely a carefully crafted facade, and nearly everyone in life was assigned a role to play. While sweating in her polyester pirate costume, she smiled and posed for photos with Japanese businessmen and hoped the images wouldn’t end up on bedside tables or the internet. She learned not to be shocked when she caught Tweedle Dum groping Alice or Tigger wandering wasted through the garbage-filled underground tunnels. She never looked at fairy tales the same after she caught Cinderella in her underwear, smoking a cigarette, and swearing like a drunken sailor. Childhood dreams are fragile and easily shattered.
After she carelessly shoved her hard-earned Mouster’s Degree into her luggage, she changed back into her own clothes and personality for the journey into the park to say her good-byes. She rode the shuttle bus to the park’s employee entrance for the last time and knowingly strolled to her former outpost. With the help of a few like-minded cohorts, she placed the tiny noose around the stuffed Mickey Mouse’s neck and let him dangle lifelessly in the air.
The dream was officially dead. She had graduated back into the real world.