For nearly 45 years, I have managed to avoid it.
As a child, it was easy. My father wanted no part of it, therefore my sister and I were denied any opportunity to experience it.
We wanted it, back then.
All the other kids got to see it.
We were The One Family in America that never did.
We were outcasts. Freaks.
What kind of American child grows up without seeing it?
The anger grew as I did.
As a young man, the anger turned to bitterness. Why should I go? Why should I see it? It’s too late now. I don’t want it! My life was full of other pursuits, and I put it out of my mind for decades.
As a married man living overseas with a young stepson, it was never a concern.
We were there. It was here.
Out of country, out of sight, out of mind.
But then we moved back here, to America, and suddenly the thing I had repressed, the thing that I had grown to despise as much as my father before me, was now confronting me.
The name made the flesh on my arms crawl.
Handan started asking for it. It was a life-long dream for her, and by extension, Barish.
I put it off as long as I could, really I did. When the conversation would stray too far over there…there, where Disney lived…I would re-direct the conversation back over here.
Wouldn’t a fishing vacation on a lake be great?
Turkey is just gorgeous this time of year, isn’t it, my babes?
Vacation? We don’t need no stinking vacation! We live in Connecticut! It’s like a super-fun, never-ending fairy tale! *
In the end, though, my defenses weren’t strong enough, especially when the Turkish grandmother threw herself into the mix. My walls crumbled, and I had to agree to a vacation in Orlando this summer.
I smiled and put on a brave and indulgent face.
“The Navages are going to Disney World!” I shouted to the world.
But not just Disney World, oh no, but Universal Orlando as well.
Handan was jumping for joy, and Barish showed the appropriate level of enthusiasm for a 13-year-old boy.
But inside, I’m quivering.
Hours spent in slow-motion death marches with great throngs of sunburned dudes in neon tank tops and Oakley Blades sunglasses, their zinc’d noses glaring in the relentless sun as they shuffle alongside gum-snapping floozies stuffed like liverwurst into leopard-print-bikini casings, their hot pink fingernails twirling bleach-blond curls.
Eternities trapped in a sea of undulating adolescence while cacophonous waves of preteen screeching crash upon my eardrums.
Thousands of dollars torched on bloated admission tickets and then hundreds more for deep-fried and sugar-injected fare from the Diabetes Express.
But I hear that the water is free.
This is smart business.
They need to keep their patrons alive so they can squeeze every last penny out of them.
Jeezum Crow, didn’t anyone think of the heat?? Summertime in Florida? Isn’t the whole state shut down and cordoned off after May? Doesn’t the sun reach down and scorch the very earth and all those foolish enough not to flee?
Let me conjure up an image of our impending holiday:
Good lord! Is this to be my fate?
Scrub that mental image, and let’s find another.
GAH! I’m a goner for sure!
Okay, so maybe it will be a little hot. But I’ll survive, right? I mean, how hot can it be?
Okay, okay, look, we’ll be staying at a resort with a large swimming pool. If I get too hot, I’ll just disrobe and roll my carcass into the cool, chlorinated water.
Dammit, brain, if you’re not going to help, then just shut the hell up! I’m taking my family to Florida, whether you like it or not, and we’re going to have the best vacation ever!
We leave tomorrow.
Pray for me.
*BWAHAHAHAHAHAH…Connecticut! Fun!! LOLOLOL! Phew, sorry, I almost couldn’t hold on to that one. What a crock of baloney-flavored malarkey!!