dadsville - Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever


I yanked on the dry, lifted patch of skin

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.

Fear not!

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!

( not responsible for injury,

loss of limb or really, anything for that matter).


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.


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...


"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,

stage left,

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.

"' 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.

"' 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,



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,

"' I...


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!!"

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2003 Arhythmiacs

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