the raging sunburn exacted as revenge for
my reckless UV-ray defiance,
and quicker'n you can say "Jack Robinson,"
I peeled off my entire epidermis
in one glorious mile-long red ribbon.
I emerged from my epithelial chrysalis in
the blazing subtropic heat quite
a different dad, dear readers:
We were fried to a Floridian crisp ---
we were blitzed with heat stroke and nausea---
We were on our family dream vacation in
Now, don't click outta here thinking this
is gonna be some smarmy
"Suzanne Somers and Step-by-Step do Orlando,"
or "Erkel and Carl discover Tomorry-land time warp"
and thaw ol' Walt hisself ---
this here is yer budget-basement basic
fam-damily holiday hootenanny.
Hey, baby, we had one of them thar
tax return checks signed by Unkey Sam
and a hankerin' for some
Suthun hop-sitality, Dinny-style,
and we would NOT be denied.
So what, we coulda used that return to
fix the leakin' roof.
Ain't that what old drywall mud buckets is for??
And so what we ain't been able to save up
for the young 'uns kollege ejjy-kay-shun;
we heard tell there's
some kinda newfangled Instee-tute at Dinnyworl
where tots kin learn theyselves to cipher
or paint like a fancy-pants
French Depressionist artist or sumthin'.
Hell, you could do jes 'bout ANY gol'
durn thang in Dinnyworl.
But you better be ready to hemorrhage
a torrent of greenbacks.
Now, skinflint dads like me out there,
you guys like me wearing cardboard belts
with one sad pair of work
shoes secretly gaffered together inside,
know how hard it is to part with cash.
I have developed a fool-proof multi-step
proactive series of exercises you can
follow to prepare to hand
Mr. Dinny every last freakin' cent in your
moth-eaten pocketbooks without
batting so much as an eyelash.
Ready? Take a deep cleansing breath --- let's go!
First, throw a few pennies in the Mall fountain ---
just one or two at a time to start,
rationalizing that at least you'll get
a few wishes out of the deal.
Close your eyes and make a wish --- go on!
When Claudia Schiffer fails to dump
David Copperfield to join you in a
utopian polygamy blessed and welcomed
by your spouse, you'll come to grips with
the ugly fact that you were chumped,
and that Mall Management just fleeced you
for your hard-earned coinage.
Don't be daunted!
Turn right around and empty all your
pockets into the fountain.
Do it, I say!
Now toss in your paper money and credit cards!
Ha - HA - HA!!!
Walt is waiting with his
cryogenically preserved palm out,
and you're gonna grease it, baby,
so toughen up!
NOW you're feeling the burn.
For the final part of our exercise,
blow all of your retirement savings
on Valu-Jet stock; withdraw your entire
checking account and surrender it
to the Perot for Prez people;
buy up every collectible piece of Franklin Mint
crap-a-zoidal bric-a-brac hawked in TV Guide;
then lastly, just to show the little kiddles
what a swell sport their dad can really be,
put on a pyrotechnic show for 'em in a
metal garbage can --- wrap a couple M-80s
with the new Ben Franklin
and blast the old man back to Kingdom Come!
(dads.com not responsible for injury,
loss of limb or really, anything for that matter).
loss of limb or really, anything for that matter).
Now say "HALLELUJAH!"
You're ready for Dinnyworl!
We recommend staying at the
Bikini Atoll Beach Resort ---
largest man-made structure visible from
outer space, eclipsing even the Great Wall
according to the Moooska-Meeska-Marketeers.
Steel drums on an hypnotic tape loop
happily thunk-thunk-thunk out of craftily
hidden speakers in every Micronesian
nook and cranny of Bikini Atoll
(don't forget to pick up YOUR copy so you can
re-create the Dinnyworl experience
right in your OWN HOME! --- tape $35.99; CD $49.95).
We slipped the Mr. Mouse key card into the door,
and beheld our moderately-priced room, tasteful,
yet not overly ostentatious.
But, ho! What's this on the snack-bar?
"How nice, a welcome basket!"
chirped my long-suffering wife,
cracking open the hermetically sealed
polymer beach bucket which held a sand scooper,
a sand sifter, and four mighty jumbo mugs emblazoned
with the handsome Bikini Atoll logo.
"S-T-O-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P!!!" I bleated,
lunging into the ionosphere,
much as Air Jordan himself might do,
in a preternatural slo-mo toward
the beach bucket plasti-pack.
"AAAAAAAAAAH!" shrieked my wife.
shrieked the kids,
leaping on the deluxe luxury Queen-size bed,
stamping their feet as if they had
seen a mouse in Dinnyworl or sumthin'.
The bellyflop I executed on the faux Berber
was as impressive as it was painful.
"SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS..." I croaked
through my now-busted dentition.
"Is Daddy dead?" asked the older one,
who had an inkling of insurance
and the easy life it might bring.
"Not yet, dear," said my betrothed,
handing the kids each a Bikini Atoll Tumbler.
"...seventy-nine...welcome pack costs...
SEVENTY NINE DOLLARS!!!" I whinnied.
"Pish-tosh," she said,
"don't you realize the kids get
FREE BEVERAGE REFILLS with these tumblers?!?"
I was done for, dear dads.
None of my intensive training regimen could
sufficiently prepare me for what was to come next.
They galloped like lemmings to the
Dinnyworl bus stop, all a-titter with a giddy delight,
and I crawled behind them, bruised and battered,
drooly and mumbling,
straight into the belly of the Dinnybeast.
With a click of the turnstile,
the Beast was upon me.
Lemon icees (4) - $48 Mr. Mouse ears (2) - $78 Plush stuffed toy (1) - $59.95
My face flushed red. Heart was beatin' like a rabbit.
Burgers (4) - $51.80 Fries (a la carte, 'natch) - $27.95 More lemon icees (4) - $48 More lemon icees (4) - $48 More lemon icees (4) - $48
I started going all wibbly-wobbly
and felt my consciousness slipping away.
Mr. Mouse Autograph Books (2) - $79.95 Mr. Mouse Autograph Pens (2) - $97.95
I hit the ground hard and saw
the Tunnel of Light, dear dads.
There it was, at my very feet,
soft and swirling and luminous,
beckoning me up, up, up
into the Great and Serene Beyond.
(I was only momentarily disappointed
as I had always assumed the heavenly vortex
would look more like the cheesball
60's TV drek-de-force, "The Time Tunnel,"
but I supposed this would do).
The painful thud-thud-thud of the Dinnyworl
horde stampeding unknowingly over my
prostrate corporeal form dulled and
vanished as my ecto exited,
and headed up into The Light.
Up, up, up, I ascended,
into a frosty cold place,
where icy crystalline stalagtites
grew turvy-topsy from the
cold cumulus ceiling.
A flitter of sprites cutting sleety cursive loops
in the freezy sky greeted me, and bore me up
to a glacial place where a mammoth icicle
proscenium framed a rocket-age
sarcophagus resting eternally on an iceberg bier.
The sprites' incessant giggling echoed in
the vast ice cavern as they vanished in
a wild flurry of frozen gossamer wings.
The capsule, ever so slowly, creaked open
in the icy silence, and there, shimmering
against the Technicolor borealis,
was Walt hisself,
come back from the daid.
He was smiling, he was avuncular,
he moved toward me with the glow of a
heavenly halo and all at once,
I felt at peace with myself
and with the Dinny universe.
He gave me a knowing wink, and in a preternatural
motion so lightning quick it was fully outside my
limited mortal perception, he rolled me for my
wallet and coin purse.
He pick-pocketed the $30.17 I had
left to my name, as well as my ATM card and the
hidden $50 in birthday money I'd squirrled away for
vacation mad money.
Then, quick'n you can say "Jack Robinson,"
he leapt back into his icebox, and all at once
I felt the mad tugging of my battered body,
pulling me down, down and down ---
back to my Earthly torment.
"...are you coming already, or WHAT?!?"
asked the older one, miffed and impatient.
"...yeah, nice time to take a NAP again,"
spat the baby one, stomping off in a huffy snit.
I came to, woozy and whirly, just as a group of
Brazilian tourists traipsed unknowingly across
my bruised and battered body. They chanted some
bogus motivational chant in Portuguese as
they marched off toward Plain Street U.S.A.
I checked my wallet and sure enough, it was clean.
We would have to hit on the kids for their allowance
money so we could all eat for the rest of the trip.
With some quick mental calculation, I figured
that if we were frugal, the four of us could splurge
on 3 and maybe 4 Slim Jims a day and still have
enough left over to split a can of Fresca.
The only thing left to do for free was to stand
in the Soviet-style queues and bait heatstroke
waiting for character autographs from Mr. Mouse
and all his friends.
And so on that sweltering day,
spent and penniless, we lumbered off to do just that.
I ranted and raved in my head about our incredible
and uncanny misfortune, and cursed the Almighty for
the curse He would not lift from me --- the curse
that kept me awake in the dark, dark nights wondering
why our break had not come and why only the evil
and the wicked are rewarded in life time and time
again while the rest of us futiley toil and hope
and dream and persist with dumbass vigilance and honesty
and dedication, when a scorching wind blew
a stony hail of grit into my eyes, and I checked back in.
We were halfway up the line to the house
of Mr. Mouse, when I heard them.
Our kids were yattering on and on with a bunch of
other little kids in the line behind us.
Just kidstuff, really --- they compared autograph books
and which character signed what, and what ride
made them barf and what ride made them scared and wasn't
their hotel pool the coolest, when I heard an
unlikely participant in the conversation.
He maybe 22 or so, and he was right in there
in the thick of the kiddie klatsch.
"...an' then I got the Captain's autograph ---
"yeah, an' he was pretty SCARY but he signed my book
"an' I waited an' he wasn't so scary then ---
"an' the las' time I was in Dinnyworl
"Merry Godmother signed my book an' Li'l Bo' Peep and
"they was SO purdy...they was SOOOOO purdy..."
He blushed and stammered and all the girls giggled
about how he was in love with Peep and how he would
marry Peep and how they were sittin' in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G as I turned to my wife.
"He's retarded, isn't he?"
"Naw," she shot back, "He's somebody's uncle, or
"somethin' --- he's just having fun with them.
"He's just having fun, I think."
But she squonched down her eyes until they were
just slits and listened hard with them as he went on.
None of the kids found him out of the ordinary at all,
and they kept up the breezy dialogue and quite obviously
considered him an equal contributor to the conversation.
"....an' I can't BELIEVE Mr. Mouse is gonna sign my book!
"You know, I've seen ALL his movies, even
"that first one 'Steamboat Billie' where he just
"whistles an' stuff, an' I'm gonna tell him I did an'
"I'm his BIGGEST fan, because I am! Hey, Mom!" he shouted
to a sixty-ish woman on the other side of the stanchions,
"What is it, honey?" she yodeled, saddled with a sack of
souvenirs and drinks and snacks and balloons and such.
"A PICTURE!" he yelled to her in a whisper,
"GET THE CAMERA READY TO TAKE A PICTURE OF
"ME AN' MR. MOUSE, IT'S ALMOST MY TURN!!!"
And she dutifully prepared her One-Step,
juggling the aforementioned vacation booty.
My kids were first. They mugged the camera
with Mr. Mouse while I snapped photographs;
they were happier now than I had ever recalled
seeing them. Happier, just maybe, than when
they saw the real Santa Claus.
It was getting late --- time to go back to the Atoll ---
but the man behind us --- the 22-year-
old man --- was next in line.
"...wait," I whispered to my wife, "wait, just a second."
She knew why I had stopped.
The man turned bashful at the last moment, and his mom
had to coax him up to Mr. Mouse, even though
all the kids around him had done the ritual
and were ready to move on.
"...I've seen all of your movies,"
he mumbled sheepishly,
In the end he was so overcome by the moment,
he could not speak at all.
The person inside the Mr. Mouse costume hugged the man,
who closed his eyes and cradled his head on
the costume character's breast,
and his mom snapped a picture.
We watched the man scamper over to his mother,
his hands cupped over his mouth,
about to burst with the overwhelming
excitement of the meeting.
"...he wrote my name!!" he said, flipping the
autograph book open to show his mom.
"He wrote my
name!!!" he said,
as his mother coo'd and shushed
him and pet him and ran her fingers through his hair
to calm him.
"...I'm the luckiest person in the whole worl'!"
I heard the man say as the scorching wind carried his voice to eternity,
"ain't nobody luckier than me!!"