In Other News

Have you seen this Mojave phone booth? Steve Amaya turned me onto it through his journal and, like him, it resonated with me. Late one night, 2:00 a.m., after debating with myself for a longish time, I called the number.

I knew I'd get a little thrill knowing there was a lonely phone ringing in pitch darkness out in the middle of the desert night. I envisioned the sound rippling out through the desert, maybe waking a lizard or three, probably unheard by any human ears at all. It'd be cool to know I was reaching out and touching nowhere.

It was busy.

I should have left well enough alone. I should have told myself it meant someone else had discovered it and was actually there using it. I should have let the romance of that thought live. But no, I had to call it again the next morning, just to find out. It was busy again.

Now I'm worried. Has the phone booth's newfound fame brought vandals its way? Did someone cut the cord, trash the booth, smash it down with a truck? Or is it just that, against astronomical odds, the only two times I ever called this phone booth out in the middle of nowhere, someone really was using it each time?

I'm leaving well enough alone now. Some things are better left unknown. I'm not calling it again, at least not for awhile.

But, hey, Steve... If you ever do mount a road trip out that way, I'd sure love to ride shotgun.


Tuesday - May 18, 1999

We're a bit plumb tuckered tonight because it's been a looong day. We took Zoe to the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland.

Disneyland. Don't even get me started. I have a deep, irrational distaste for all things Disney. It comes from my experience temping for the Mouse in their marketing and merchandising divisions, where I found the rabid hucksterism deeply disturbing, especially on their "collectibles" line. Now, since that's what those divisions are all about, it's not like I should be surprised they were that way. But Disney does it really well, really hard, really intensely. It really bothered me.

That experience colored my perception of everything Disney, so now all I see is a giant cash register cynically shrouded with cute cartoon figures and whimsical fairy tales, doing its damnedest to suck every last dime out of your pocket. It tends to take the magic out of the Magic Kingdom. It makes me not want to go there. Ever. But I've got a three-year old, so what am I gonna do? Go there.

And go we did, from about noon to six. It was a pretty good day at the park, much better than the last time we went, which was on a holiday when every tourist in the western hemisphere was prowling the turnstiles. This time around the lines were short, the crowds were minimal, and I wasn't on the verge of going postal on the next person to step on my foot, primarily because nobody was stepping on my foot in the first place because with so few people taking up acreage there was that much more open ground for them to stand on instead of standing on me.

And wasn't that a long sentence? Anyway...

Zoe got to ride the rides: Dumbo. The carousel (twice). The boat ride whose name I can't remember. The other boat ride erroneously named "It's A Small World," which should really be called "The Slow Boat Ride Through Singing, Dancing, Animatronic Hell On Earth That Will Not End." The Spinning Teacups. A train ride. And, finally, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Hot tip for three-year olds at Disneyland: Don't take them on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It's scary for them. Especially don't keep fake screaming next to them on the ride and yelling "Look out!" and "Oh, what's that!" and "Oh nooo...!" Don't do that. Trust me.

Best of all for Zoe, she got to meet some characters and have her autograph book signed. We got Pluto (terribly embarassing when I called him Goofy) and we also got...drum roll, please...Ariel. Oooh, that was a big one. Zoe was just rapt at the sight of her. I had to nudge Zoe forward to get her autograph. And then when Ariel sat Zoe on her lap and talked to her? Well, that was just the living end. Ariel hung the moon as far as Zoe's concerned.

And then we came home and now we're tired and I'm going to bed. I won't be surprised if Zoe has Mr. Toad nightmares tonight, and you'd better believe I'll catch hell from Beth tomorrow if she does.

Me, I'm probably going to have Disney nightmares. Consorting with the enemy does that to me, you know.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins