This past Sunday, some friends of mine and I went to Disneyland to run about, frolic, and tell people on Twitter how much we didn’t care about the Super Bowl.
And it was a wonderful day out, to be sure. I love my friends, I love giant anthropomorphic rodents, and I love spending money.
And for a while that day, I felt like if I didn’t get out of there, I was going to need to be taken out in a straightjacket by a solemn-looking Goofy in doctors scrubs.
This is not because of anything the park did wrong (I know they’re probably very concerned), or anything my friends did (for they are perfect, perfect angels knit from gossamer yarn spun from pure awesome), it is because I think I may very well be incapable of having a good time.
That’s not strictly true. I am perfectly capable of having a good time. As long as there are no random variables, as long as everything goes completely according to plan, as long as everyone around me is having what I perceive to be the right amount of fun, and as long everyone around me believes that I am having what I perceive them to perceive is the right amount of fun, then it’s all good!
Cheers, everyone! Why aren’t you smiling! SMILE, GODDAMN IT, COME ON, SING, EVERYONE SING, ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT...
Reading that paragraph over again, it might appear that I come across as a total control freak. And that’s exactly what I wanted you to think. I chose those exact words in that precise order so you could come away with one and only one conclusion.
The joke is, to anyone who has seen my overflowing laundry hamper, or who has ever held me to a deadline, is that I am the polar opposite of a control freak. But it goes deeper than that. I am the polar opposite of a control freak who aspires to be a control freak.
Sakes alive, I wish I was a control freak! I wish I had a house full of calendars, charts, graphs, powerpoint presentations, and schedules, schedules, schedules. I wish I woke up at 4:30 every morning, did some bracing calisthenics, walked the dog, came home, wrote six great American novels and then started my day with the This Complete Breakfast from all of those cereal commercials.
I wish that when my friends and loved ones had problems, I could fix them immediately. I wish I could tell them beyond the shadow of a doubt the Seven Highly Effective Ways To Make Whatever Bullshit That’s Going Down Completely Awesome. Hand them an itemized list with phone numbers and websites and, I don’t know, coupons. Everyone loves coupons.
Basically, my dream is to be a hybrid of Winston Wolfe from PULP FICTION and Vernon Hines from THE PAJAMA GAME. And on top of it all, I’d be smartly dressed and a snappy dancer.
But that is not how things shook out for me. I will take that dream, and place it on my “Magical Thinking” pile, which I think is behind the couch? Or in my closet? Maybe it’s in the freezer, hang on, I have to go check the freezer.
Damn it. We’re out of Fudgsicles. I should put those on the list. Where did I put that list?
I have been to Disneyland with a bona-fide Type A, GTD mammajamma, and it was AMAZING. She knew what line to get in first, when to get FastPasses, when to get snacks, when to stop eating snacks, when to get FastPasses for snacks, it was just a wonder to behold. And I tried to pay attention as best I could, thinking to myself, “When I come back here, I will be able to emulate this, and as a result, the entire day will be perfect.”
And we started strong this past Sunday. We got FastPasses for Space Mountain, and then went to get in line for the Indiana Jones And The Temple Of This Ride Is Better Than The Last Three Movies, Especially Crystal Skull What The Fuck Was Up With That Shit. And as one does, we waited. And waited. And waited. Luckily we had each other, and more importantly, we had our smartphones.
And then the ride broke. And we were all stuck in line. And then the ride worked again! And we CHEERED! And then the ride broke again. And then we were ushered out of the ride. It was a good hour of standing around, all told. Completely not a big deal, it’s not like we were waiting in line for our ration of bread and toilet paper. We were just waiting to bounce around in a big fake jeep while Uncanny Valley Jones had robot adventures.
And yet as we stood there, being told that things were broken, my mind began to race. “GODDAMN IT,” I thought to myself, “We should have come HERE first, rode the ride before it broke, and THEN gone to Space Mountain, and then today would have been perfect, but now we just wasted an hour and everyone is bummed out and it’s because I dropped the ball. Nice one, jerk.”
Okay. Maybe that would have required me to be able to see into the future. But. BUT. I should have had some kind of plan, some kind of AMAZING PLAN, that would more than make up for the time we wasted. Like if there was a secret place in Cinderella’s Castle that provided patrons in the know with back-rubs and cool refreshing gin and tonics, but it’s only available to people who DID THEIR RESEARCH THE NIGHT BEFORE. But I didn’t. I dropped the ball. Nice one, jerk.
And so I was pissed at myself. Pissed at myself for not knowing the future, and pissed at myself for not knowing about places that didn’t actually, in so many words, “exist.” I was grumpy and uncomfortable, and for the next hour or so, I’m pretty sure I made everyone around me grumpy and uncomfortable.
After my snit lifted, I turned to one of my buddies, and said, “Okay. We’re gonna get today back, this is gonna be great.” And she said, “Today is already great. Even if we only went on one ride, today is great.”
God. Damn. It.
Here I was with a bunch of my friends, some of whom I rarely see in real life. We had a limited amount of time together, and we all really wanted to have a fun day being silly. And then one thing went wrong, and then I spent a quarter of that day being angry at myself about things I couldn’t control. Angry at myself when NOBODY ELSE WAS, because everyone was just happy to be running around and eating churros and cotton candy and stuff. Sure, people were bummed out at being inconvenienced, but nobody was bummed out and looking for me to fix that.
Nice one, jerk.
The thing is, something always goes wrong. Even the superfreakiest control freaks understand this. And when things go wrong, things that are beyond our control, the only thing we can actually control is how we choose to respond to them. And when I say “we,” I mean, “me.” I’m sure everyone else has this figured out already.
A little while later, we successfully got on the Indiana Jones ride, and it was super-fun. And we screamed and laughed, enjoying the sheer wonder of being a bunch of adults in a big fake jeep. At one point on the ride (spoilers), a big boulder came right at us, and then the ground dropped from beneath us and we went under it. It rolled right over us, and we kept going.
That boulder is something going wrong. That boulder is my anxiety about something going wrong, and not being able to fix it. And if I want to keep having adventures, I need to remember to go under it, and keep moving ahead.
Also, churros and cotton candy. And Fudgsicles.