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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe...

Damn! Summer's almost gone. It's been a rather mild one too, weather wise. And I'm sitting here trying to figure out something to do with the two days I have to take or lose. But, with no car, my choices are limited. I thought "I KNOW! I'm going to take a train ride to Santa Barbara and poke around there for a day trip, how NICE would that be?"

Have you PRICED the train lately? $64 bucks, round trip. I could drive it in less than an hour and a half. Even with gas at $3.25 a gallon it would take half a tank. No wonder public transportation in Los Angeles is going broke. Guys? Basic thing here...lower the prices, put MORE people on the train, and you make MORE money. I know, lower ticket prices shouldn't mean more money but it will. Trust me on this one.

So, here I am, trying to figure out what to do with my two days. Because if I can't figure out anything I'll end up sitting on my ass watching The Price is Right. This, btw, CAN be a wonderful way to spend one's vacation time, except that every member of my family will also be sitting on their asses watching "The Price is Right". Because I'm the only one with a damn JOB!

Well, I thought maybe I would splurge and take a bus (2 hours, btw) to Disneyland. Disneyland used to be fun. We used to go down there all the time, the hubster and I would take off just to eat dinner and have an ice cream sundae on Main Street. Oh man, the Carnation Cafe used to make this absolutely awesome salad, a big green salad with chicken breast in it, and they topped it with Frito's and a tangy vinaigrette. Damn, I loved it. Then everything changed.

The food got upscale. So did the clientele. People quit going to Disneyland because they loved it and started going because it was the thing to do. You got an annual pass and you went to Disneyland. Two, three, four times a week. Because the more you went, the more likely you were to be seen by people who would then count you into a secret society where people who had nothing else to do with their lives but go to Disneyland and eat at the now upscale, oh so chic and oh so expensive restaurants on the property (which is now a "resort" instead of a "theme park")all recognized each other. And then they went on line and said you had been seen there and you intimated you had seen them and the little dance you did became the 21st century equivalent of a secret handshake.

Disneyland was no longer something one loved, or took out of town relatives to, or saved up to see at Christmastime. No, Disneyland was a social obligation. And I've NEVER really been good at social obligations. Groups and groups of people formed, and they had meet-ups and you could spot them, milling around the Esplanade, slowly gathering into a huge mass of humanity, slowly lumbering towards the promised land like so many zombies, eyes glazed over, little trickles of drool running down their chins, their matching t-shirts and name tags and lanyards full of pins to trade and passes to show off to the unfortunate day visitors who HAD no annual passes to display identifying them, per group, as the ultimate in humanity, the creme de la creme...LOCALS!

Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt at Disneyland? Lord, I have. I used to sign the entire family up. And we staggered through the property, shoulder to shoulder with other hunters and nice people from Kansas while you ran after Alice in Wonderland demanding an autograph which would net you 10 points if you were lucky. They were always held on the hottest, stickiest days of the year, these people must have consulted the Farmer's Almanac (which is notoriously reliable) to find the nastiest Sunday and book the damn thing. By the time it ended, late in the afternoon, we wished we had been on Bataan, it would have been a lot more comfortable. And we wouldn't have had to count how many teeth the hippopotami on the Jungle Cruise had.

This could have been a rather fun afternoon if it hadn't cost me about two hundred bucks for the four of us. That was on top of admission. Two hundred bucks for the privilege of being jostled, pushed around and missing parades because we spend the entire freaking day working out word puzzles, climbing Tarzan's extrememly boring tree house and fighting our way through crowds to get whatever prize would prove we had actually done the task put to us.

We did this three times.

Until it dawned on us that a) it wasn't any fun and b) the money we paid for the privilege of abusing ourselves wasn't even doing anyone any good, except the people who wrote the tasks. I mean, if the proceeds were going to the Children's Hospital of Orange or the Midnight Rescue Mission or Doctors Without Borders or something, that would have been different. No, it was going into some one's pocket, where it stayed. Or maybe got turned over to Club 33, I'm not sure. I do know if they're giving it to charity they all keep that to themselves. It seems to go for expanding bandwidth.

Not too long after September 11, 2001, a bunch of porn stars got together and wanted to do something to help. They organized a fund raiser and a bunch of really big stars of that time all rented a strip club and they all "danced" (it depends on one's definition of dancing, there wasn't a LOT of choreography) and every damn dime that came in was turned over to the American Red Cross. I thought it sounded like fun and I went. I was right, it was. It was a LOT of fun and they raised several thousand dollars, I heard. There was a BIG crowd and I was squeezed into a great big crush of people. Not unlike a Disneyland scavenger hunt. But I actually had a GOOD TIME. And my 10 bucks (no, I did NOT put it into some one's g-string. I would have, but there were no male dancers. I put it into a coffee can that was being passed around, thankyouverymuch)actually went to an organization that would use it for a good purpose. Now that I think about it, maybe if a bunch of Porn Stars decided to do a scavenger hunt at Disneyland I'd go again.

Anyway, I haven't been to one of those "private events" in YEARS. When it dawned on me that my check was being cashed for the sole purpose of making money for someone else I thought, no. Two hundred bucks buys a lot of enchiladas and tequila. Two things, btw, you CAN'T get at Disneyland. Well, okay, maybe the enchiladas...

I've been told that the cool girl club, or the Six Chicks or whatever the hell it is has decided I can't come this year. Which is pretty effing funny when you realize I haven't been to one in six years I think it is. Can't you just hear it? "Oh my GOD! I SO fixed it so she just WON'T be here! So don't worry about her and her good manners, I'm just SO OVER THAT!" It'd be worth the price of park admission just to watch it from the outside. Although I've never really been into self-abuse.

Besides, I'm actually going to Disneyland in Mid-October. One of my sons loves the Trick-or-Treat Mickey gives you last year's stale fun size Snicker Bars events. The price isn't bad and it gives him a great deal of pleasure, which in and of itself makes it worth twice the price of admission. He gets to wear his costume before Halloween and we can ride Big Thunder and it will be a lovely evening.

So yeah, the Magic Kingdom is decidedly UN magical for me these last few years. Which leaves me with the same problem I started with. What the HELL do I do with my two days off? I'm actually tempted to not bother taking them. The air conditioning is a LOT better in the office building and the Internet connection is a hell of a lot faster than that steam driven wireless I use at home.

There's a big screen TV here, and cable. No HBO, but plenty of Food TV and The Learning Channel. Also, ABC, so I can watch "Wipeout!" There's a large kitchen,with a microwave, a soft drink machine and a candy bar machine. Hell, I can just show up with an armload of Lean Cuisines and a sleeping bag and hole up over the long week-end. Me, central air, microwave popcorn and the Jerry Lewis telethon.

Believe me, I've had worse ideas. Like going on a scavenger hunt at Disneyland.

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