742. Hole Hearted

(Monday at midnight is the deadline for turning in Orlando-themed fanworks! Knowing what was coming up in today’s chapter would land around then, I timed it that way on purpose. You’ll see why. -ctan)

I successfully avoided any and all family drama while we were in Miami. Go me. And I did my vocal exercises every day because I had Fran and Clarice working on them with me. So that’s another thing in the plus column.

But the day after the third and final show in Miami we were on the road early to Orlando–not the entire entourage, just me and Remo, Melissa and Ford, and four other relatives of Melissa’s. If I’m remembering correctly it was her mother, her father and his new wife, and her mother’s sister. We were in a hired van and I confess I passed out on the back bench and slept for like three hours on the way there. The good thing about that is that I didn’t have to listen to them bickering and arguing the entire time, only the last hour or so.

I woke up with my tongue tasting like something had died in my mouth and so I didn’t want to talk for fear my breath would smell like a crypt. So at that point I was stuck listening to pointless family squabble.

I can’t even recreate it. It was like the worst road trip with my own parents and sisters I could think of except I didn’t know these people and so couldn’t take sides. I keep trying to think of something to tell you that they argued about and I can’t even remember because it wasn’t even like anything important. Maybe I blocked it out of my mind or maybe it really was that it didn’t matter. They’d argue about anything. I dunno. The makes of the cars we were passing. Whether citrus fruit was good for you. I already felt ill and this didn’t really help.

The van dropped us off at a tour office of some kind. I am vague on whether this was just a paid thing or if we were some kind of celeb VIPs or what. We went straight to the Magic Kingdom.

I’ll admit, it’s difficult for me to say the words “Magic Kingdom” without wanting to put some kind of ironic twist on it. But I’ll say this. The arguing actually ceased for a good solid half hour–maybe even an hour–when we walked under that train station and emerged into the noonday sun with the white castle shining in the background. I am even smiling in the photos of us they took. I am wearing my sunglasses and my hair is blowing free in the breeze and for some reason I’m the one holding Ford in some of those pictures.

He looks happy, too.

And then we got out of the sun because one of Ford’s grandmothers was worried about how quickly babies sunburn, which meant we shuffled right into a gift shop. I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get on any nausea-inducing rides given how my head and stomach still felt from three straight nights of partying. Each successive night I had actually reduced the amount of drinking and drugs I did but I hadn’t gotten ahead of how hammered I’d been that first night. I told myself the problem had been quitting drinking for several weeks with Ziggy and so my tolerance was shot.

Anyway, we did eventually get moving and do some stuff like the pirate boat ride which was way more entertaining than it had any right to be. Ford made squeaky infant distress noises when the boat first went into the dark part and then spent the rest of the time cooing and pointing happily. That’s about how I felt, actually.

In fact even when the bickering started again I realized I was still having a better time than I’d had when we’d come here when I was like eight or nine. While my older sisters veered between acting like they were too cool for this kids-stuff and having infantile tantrums, I’d found myself caught in this weird zone where I couldn’t enjoy anything because I couldn’t quite negotiate whether I was allowed to or not.

This was at the point when, being the only boy, I was starting to be treated like I was somehow supposed to be more grown up than my actual age would imply. Also the point when I was starting to really fear making a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to like or enjoy anything my sisters liked because that would be “girly.” I also wasn’t supposed to like anything too childish–or ever show I was scared–because that would make me a “big baby.” Can you hear those words coming out of Digger’s mouth? Sure you can. And of course anything Digger would say to criticize me, my older sisters would pick up on immediately to add to the ways they tormented me.

Have I told you before about how I was terrified of balloons? Terrified. Because they pop and make a loud noise and that was terrifying to me as a child. Maybe because I had sensitive ears. Maybe because I was a sensitive child overall. I don’t know. You know what there are millions of everywhere in Walt Disney World? Balloons. I hated going to birthday parties because of the balloons. (Well, honestly, sometimes because of the other children, too, but that’s a different story.) My sisters, upon realizing that I was being a “sissy” about balloons immediately insisted on having them.

I recall trying to speak up for myself about how it wasn’t fair for them to get balloons and for me and Courtney not to get anything and that backfired horribly–because the result was Court and I were forced to have balloons, too. Court for her part was happy with her balloon once she got one the color she wanted.

So imagine me going everywhere in Disney World with what I considered a time bomb tied to my wrist. I played it off like I didn’t care. Like I was a tough guy and it didn’t bother me. Emotionally armored up to the gills.

What a way to ruin a place that is supposed to be for children to feel safe and free and to explore their imagination and dreams, eh?

The worst was when we were on the boat leaving the park that evening and Court untied the balloon from her chubby little wrist because it was annoying her and she accidentally let it go and it flew away and she cried and cried and cried like it had been a kitten that died. She was what, four? Too young to be consoled by explanations but not too young to be devastated by all the scolding and “I told you so”s heaped on her by my parents and older sisters.

God, my family sucked.

Anyway, and I’m not proud of this because it was actually utterly selfish, but I waited until she had stopped crying and my family had quit haranguing her and that angsty angry post-family-incident silence had fallen over the whole group to untie my own balloon and tell her, “Here you go, sis. You can have mine.”

I totally did not deserve the hero worship she responded with. But okay. I tied it onto her wrist and this one she kept all the way back to the hotel.

Wow, that was a downer of a story. Now you know why I don’t tell you more about my family.

Anyway, this trip was a lot less terrible than that by comparison. And it was about to get better.

Coming soon: “cast” photos!
(As soon as I get off the road, I’ll be getting to compiling all the “casting” photos and suggestions you guys have been sending me. In other words, August. So if you still want to submit your casting ideas (i.e. who do you imagine when various characters are described) email them to daron.moondog@gmail.com, especially with photos or links to photos. -ctan)

(Another hit from 1991. Went to #4. -d)


  • *sneaks out of hiding, where she spends most of her time reading and enjoying, for single copyediting comment*

    Disneyland has no space in it. Disney World does. 🙂

    (I know that sounds stupid but it threw me right out of the story. That’s what I get for living in Florida most of my life.)

  • s says:

    Your family does suck, Daron, but I’ll bet anything Court remembers your act of kindness and the motivation behind it doesn’t even matter.

    I guess since it’s not currently 1991 and you already know how I feel, I’ll just sit here and watch you lie to yourself and not beat you up about it. *sigh*

    • daron says:

      I don’t think she remembers the balloon incident in particular but I guess that could explain where some of the hero worship came from.

  • G says:

    Glad you had an okay time and all, but I’ll have to read again because I got stuck on the kind of off-hand way you talked about your drinking and drug use. What?? Talk about signs of a problem – oh, Ziggy jacked up your tolerance level, that’s the issue here. Not the fact that you are drinking again and taking drugs. Whatevers.

    Each time you talk about your family it causes me to think about how I grew up and what aspects of my childhood directly or indirectly led to the way I am now. Weird how even though our lives are totally different in so many ways, your words and experiences have carved out a spot in my mind and heart. I guess I should thank you for that, along with some of the other people who comment here.

    Enough of the mushy – get your shit together, Daron.

    I am intrigued, however, to see how the trip gets better.

    • daron says:

      Just trying to accurately convey the mountain of denial and the tiny cocktail size shovel I was picking at it with. Being a fucked up adult is still far better than being a fucked up child, though. At least there’s that.

  • Tim says:

    I’m always a bit surprised at people’s expectations of young Daron in the 1990s. Are we forgetting that 90% of people who abuse drink or drugs don’t think they are doing anything wrong? They think the anti-people are stupid fucks and that they are cool, even if they’re so high they can barely function, or if they are musicians, play. Half the people I know NOW get ‘excited’ when they get ill and need some painkillers – ‘oh goody’. The fact that any of the people in Daron’s story feel any remorse or caution is highy unusual, even today let alone in the 1990s. I myself don’t see this story as purposefully infused with ‘messages’ about substances, unsafe sex, relationship issues etc that would turn it into some kind of very long PSA. Its a very realistic ‘recollection’ in 2016, by what I presume is a 40-something Daron about his life story in past decades. Just because many readers are the wiser at this point in life does not mean that its normal for young people to be afraid of being dependant on substances. A lot of people old and young see dependancy as a badge of honor, in their own weird way. What makes people feel sheepish today probably made most people feel socially accomplished back then, so really Daron is the last person who needs to be admonished, he’s way ahead of it, if back in the 1990s he already knew it wasn’t doing him any good.

    • daron says:

      Honestly if I hadn’t seen how drugs turned one of the nicest guys I ever met into a stranger (Christian, I mean) and hadn’t contributed strongly to a Ziggy-sized hole being forcibly torn in my life, I probably wouldn’t be aware, and it’s taken me this long to figure out that just because it’s socially acceptable doesn’t mean alcohol isn’t just as much of a potential problem.

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