Monday, May 19, 2014

The Ballad of Chip -n- Dale

Here I am paying homage to my saviors, Chip -n- Dale.  Why at my advanced age do I kneel in public on my graying, doddering knees and fix my blurry vision on the furred spectacles that so many regard as mere afterthoughts to Walt Disney's fantastical birth of characters and technology in the 40s: the minor league World War II era antagonists of the more canonical Pluto and Donald?  The goofy, hopping, chattering placenta of Disney's Golden Age?

I will tell you.

I was a younger man once, in a younger time.  Unlike today, being fat was shameful.  And, unlike today, I wasn't fat. I was a tender slip of a thing: all of 22 years old and 139 pounds soaking wet.  Carol was also a tiny slip of a thing. In other words, exactly like she is today.  We vacationed in Florida once a long, long time ago.  The only two-week vacation of my life, a glorious span spent largely in Daytona, and partially on my hands and knees (but that is a story for another time - reference "I gots to get a present for mah gal!")

However we did do a couple of special things: one, we went to a water park with tubes and slides and the usual stuff that water parks have and had a great day.  So great in fact, that we bought matching super micro shorts that were bright blue with a yellow "WaterBoggan!" logo on them.  I mean really incredibly tiny shorts.  But, as I said, this was a time when men wore tiny shorts and were proud.

I do not mean to insinuate that I ever looked anything like this.  However, if you image search for "men in small shorts" all you get are things like this. And much worse.  Some of those men in the image search don't even have shorts at all, frankly.  Nor do they seem to miss them.  They seem relieved that their immense architectures can wag free in the breeze.  But, truth be told, these are about the size of the shorts I wore regularly in the 70s. I mean even our high school gym shorts were ultra-micro, so that's all we knew. Anyway, imagine skinny young me in these.

Another thing we did was make our very first visit to Disney World.  We drove from the coast to Orlando in our matching WaterBoggan shorts and enjoyed a great, whirlwind day in the Magic Kingdom (this was 1979, before Epcot even opened).  Being touristy, and not knowing if we would ever get back there (ha!) at the close of the day we headed to the Disney Main Street area where the shops and goodies are and loaded up on t-shirts and souvenirs. We grabbed a nice haul of Disneyana and got in one of the seemingly endless, long, meandering checkout lines that grow at the end of the day.

As I was admiring my 'angry Donald' shirt and the rest of our booty, I began to feel an uncomfortable and increasingly distressing sensation.  Some brand of Disney-chow was working its way through my innards and leaving trails of grief in its wake. While amusing at first, things soon progressed to annoying, and --as is the way with these situations-- swiftly moved to URGENT. I pressed my stack of goods into Carol's hands and told her I would be right back.

Ducking out of the line, I glanced around the store to see --as is Disney's custom-- no restroom in sight.  Restrooms are special events in the World, not crammed into mere apothecaries and mercantiles and the like.  I would have to discern the nearest one; no easy feat when cramping in the Magic Kingdom.

And I was cramping.  As my lower abdominal muscles (which I remember fondly, though I haven't had them for years) seized unremittingly, I began to involuntarily lower myself into a crouch.  I knew the WaterBoggan shorts were tiny and insubstantial and could not hold back anything which would lead to public shame.  I crouch-dashed from the Disney store in the frantic hopes of spying either a restroom or a knowledgeable employee.

And of course found neither.  Now in a full-out mobile squat, I looked around frantically to spy any Disney employee at all. NO ONE?!  Until my eye fell upon....

Yes. Chip -n- Dale.

The effervescent chipmunks were the only Disney workers in sight.  They frolicked and gamboled with children and adults as I made a hasty, cramping, crouching approach. As I neared them, they became aware of the fiendishly serious man power-squatting toward them.  I fancied I saw their fake eyes widen with concern. They towered over me, even though small, as I was now in a full Vietnamese gardener's fetal position.  Clutching my stomach, and now sweating profusely with the strain of keeping my foul nether-lid firmly closed, I whispered hoarsely, "Bathroom!"

Here is another Disney fun fact:  the costumed characters are not allowed to speak.  Under any circumstance, apparently. It's a fireable offense.  So the only two people nearby who might help me were forbidden from actually doing so.

Imagine a scarier version of this

Nevertheless, they sprang into Disney action.  Leapfrogging each other, they hopped and skipped, pointing the way to go.  With an animated desperation mirroring my own, they led me through the crowd, around an obscure corner to --bless their chipmunk souls-- a men's room.  I scooted in and courtesy of the two high-energy rodents did not have to burn my WaterBoggan shorts later that evening.

So that is why I am beholden to Chip -n- Dale.  Long may they wave.

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