Fear and Loathing in the Magic Kingdom
“I’m the white rabbit”
- My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult – “Daisy Chain 4 Satan”
The jet descends into the Florida area, and because I’ve only had the meds that fool my brain into thinking it’s in Pamplona (Wellbutrin…taken for my supposed anxiety issues, which are, ironically, caused by Wellbutrin and other meds), I’m shaking and twitching like an epileptic punk rocker on a Magic Fingers massage bed. Whatever form of nasty-as-all-hell supervirus I came down with the day before is having a good time all over my chest and stomach, and it’s all I can do to curl up in the fetal position and wait until we land. My brother the genius is currently playing something on his laptop-sized Playstation, but I can’t be bothered to look. My sister’s in front of me, probably on the window side of my mother and father. My mother’s idea of a good vacation is that she drags us through every educational tourist trap there is to go to, in the hopes that perhaps we might learn something, instead of just having all that unhealthy fun. I don’t think she fully understands the concept of “vacation from school”. My father, on the other hand, is more interested in simply having a good time. My brother and I couldn’t care less, because we’re mainly interested in having a good time, as well.
To illustrate the way my family views vacations, let’s look at the responses from my family’s trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Keep in mind that I was already starting to fidget when this occurred:
Dad: “Look at all the beautiful nature. I can really feel at peace here, and it’s not a bad spot at this time of day.”
Ben, my brother: “Well, there are a lot of places to climb on, the view isn’t bad, but I’d really like to be far away from pretty much all of you and go do this on my own.”
Me: “Woooooow….okay, the magic’s worn off and it’s just a big gash in the ground now. C’n we go back into Flagstaff or some other urban area? Nature kinda begins to look the same…”
Genevieve, my sister: “Oh, look, another gift shop! We’re not leaving until we go in that one, too!”
Mom: “This is awe-inspiring natural beauty, and as I drag you through every crevice of the historical area and up to the guardrails, you had damn well better appreciate all of it! APPRECIATE IT!
But I digress.
The window’s too hot, but if I dare take off my jacket, I’m going to be shivering worse. In my mother’s bags, she has a veritable pharmacy of cough syrup and various other things to keep my inner demons under control. We can’t get anything that actually works, of course. On these drugs I’m taking, it’d kill me, and we don’t want me dying for the sake of good grades. At least, I don’t. My parents would probably have a quite different idea, particularly because of the F I’m getting in math. When the thing lands, I feel my gorge rising, but I’m able to fight it down. Besides, I haven’t had anything save an orange juice and maybe a granola bar. The kind of crap that’s been digested before you even notice it’s gone.
After a brief trip through the airport terminal— yes, I said brief, this is before airport terminals got really slow, complicated, and overly-congested— I’m bundled into a car and taken off to the Vatican-style stretch of land known as Disney World, for what will almost certainly be a vacation to remember. They always are, between my mother’s tourist mores, my sister’s quasi-religious worship of any gift shop within a ten-mile radius, and my brother, father, and myself simply being dragged along and trying to have fun in the various ways the other two allow us.
The hotel is in the Animal Kingdom section, all decked out like a gigantic African tourist hall. My mother has repeatedly insisted that she wanted the room in front of the animals, and in front of the animals we are. I, of course, can’t see them, as I am still curled up in the fetal position, now in a bed. I’ve begun to empathize with every inmate of a plague ward, possibly ever. And I am anxious about something or other. It’s as if I’ve come home to find all my furniture glued to the ceiling. Curling up, I proceed to fall asleep, only to be woken up twice. The first time is to try eating a roast beef sandwich, which I gag down half of, and get some dinner into me. The second time is to deposit dinner in the sink, along with some ginger ale, about two to three hours later. As first impressions go, this is surprisingly not the worst thing that has ever happened to me on vacation. That would be the summer in Canada where mosquitoes almost took all the blood in my body out through the skin. Still, it’s enough to merit mention.
The next morning, I’m woken up with the rest of the family to go tour the park. Today’s odds and ends include several cough drops, a cupful of cough supressant (flavor: Blue raspberry asshole), decongestant, expectorant (both in cherry), and two aspirin.. And then, of course, comes the miracle pill— one single dose of Wellbutrin, good for everything that ails the mind. Within moments, I’m looking at the shotgun-toting midget in the corner of the room, and wondering where the hell those voices are coming from. But it’s all okay. I’m still able to walk upright, and the coughing’s definitely gone down, though when I do cough, it tastes horrible and makes me feel even sicker. Today’s order of business is hanging out with my father and sister while walking around the MGM section, and of course wondering why all the birds around here seem to talk in German accents. Really, it’s beginning to unsettle me quite a bit.
After looking around for a bit at the place, decked out as it is like a happier, less-cynical 1930s Hollywood, I began to wonder why the heck no one seemed to notice that every other step, the park began tilting wildly to and fro. This was of no immediate concern to me, nor the fact that Wagner’s Rienzi had begun blaring from the speakers in the park for exactly one nanosecond, because my sister decided to go on the Tower of Terror. Now, I love roller coasters and thrill rides. They’re one of my favorite things in the world. But for some reason, on this particular day, I was a little weird. Once we were in line, the comments started to bubble up. “I don’t think I want to go on this thing…” I started, “I’m a little scared…” This anxiety grew the closer to the front of the line we got. Lines were taking a long-ass time, so it’s no wonder that my keening and whining was going on for a little bit. As the line went on, it became less “I don’t think it’s a good idea”, to “No, I’m not going on the damn ride.” By the time it was near the front, there was no way I was going on the ride. And I said as much: “Dad, there is no way you’re getting me on that fucking ride!” The ride itself went off without a hitch, but up until that point, I was freaking out.
This continued to happen for the rest of the day, from “I don’t know, I think I’m going to be freaked out…” to “Oh, god, what if there’s a sudden drop? I can’t take a sudden drop…” The truly insane bit is that my sister, bastion of gift shops and annoying little thing that she is, is on “talk down Sam” duty. Chances were, if I wanted to ride it, I would immediately get anxious and try to stop myself…after the line had already started and I was near the front. And then I’d realize where I was and that this was patently impossible, and go ahead to ride the damn thing. My sister, of course, wanted to ride everything because for whatever inexplicable reason, Disney puts a huge gift shop you have to navigate through at the end of every ride. Finally, after the cycle of “Yaagh!”—> “Hey, this is actually fun.”—→ “Let’s go on that ride”—→”Yaagh!” had finally completed with me tired out, my father foisted me off on my mother to spend the rest of the day sleeping off the anxious psychosis. I passed out again in the middle of the afternoon.
That night, my parents had found that my fever, hallucinations, and the various other things that had been plaguing me all day long had gotten worse, as there were no way that the animals my mother had been so insistent about were performing “In-a Gadda Da Vida” and backed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a pair of Coleocanths. So they took me to a local clinic. After looking me over, the doctor told my father I was going to need some amoxicilin, gave us a perscription, and sent us on our way. The new drug made me feel infinitely better, though the fact that the other drugs I had been on had pushed the situation this far was more than unsettling, it was flat-out insane. Why the hell should I be put on my last legs because of an ADD medication? Luckily, I could sleep the whole night, and get up the next morning, ready for round two.
The next morning I sighed with relief and managed to walk to the bathroom without everything swaying to and fro all over the place. “In-a Gadda Da Vida” was still playing, but it was more a question of one line being stuck in my head. Perhaps, I thought to myself, perhaps things were finally going to be okay this vacation.
A family takes a trip to Disney World, seen through the eyes of their violently-ill eldest son forced to take cold medicine to ward off a severe case of flu, as well as the drugs supposed to help him concentrate. May be autobiographical