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"No, you watch your fucking mouth!" Those were not words I ever imagined uttering at Disneyland, and particularly not while sporting sequined Minnie Mouse ears and clutching pink cotton candy. But sometimes even the Happiest Place on Earth can implode.
That day, the holiday season had just kicked off, but the mercury was still at 80 degrees, making for that perfect storm of Disney magic, Christmas cheer and California sunshine. I was having a lovely day. So was everyone around me.
Then came the Christmas parade. Whether you want to see the Christmas parade or not, inevitably you will. Disneyland designed it that way: It marches down Main Street USA, which is the thoroughfare to absolutely everywhere you want to go. A crowd gathers shoulder to shoulder and everything stops, much like an L.A. freeway traffic jam. You have no choice but to summon your patience.
One dad, however, didn't get the memo. Rage must have boiled inside him upon realizing there was no way out of the parade, and when it finally wound down, he wanted to book it out of there, immediately, no matter whom he had to take down in the process.
I discovered this when I felt the bang of a stroller wheel against my ankle. Not the first time -- I figured that was a mistake. But then there was a second time, and a third. No one bonks you three times by accident.
I turned around to see a stocky, bald man, beer gut hanging over his belted jean shorts, standing behind a stroller and avoiding my gaze. I turned away. But moments later, there was a crash into my companion's ankle.
Now I was pissed.
"Hey," I said, looking straight in his face. "You're hitting us with your sleeping baby. Stop it."
Now, I thought this was a reasonable request. The man in jorts did not.
"Whoa," he fired back, like I was an unruly horse. "Whoa, WHOA."
"I'm just saying, stop," I reiterated.
And that's when he snapped. Too many go-rounds on "It's a Small World," maybe. Followed by a parade crowd and then my sass, it was just too much for any man to bear.
"Just fucking walk!" he yelled.
What happened next is a blur. I remember screaming. I remember f-bombs flying. I remember, yes, lunging at the guy -- and a cool-headed compadre holding me back. It's too embarrassing to detail. All I'll say is that, when I came to, my cotton candy suddenly looked like garbage. I needed a drink.
Thankfully, Disneyland serves alcohol, probably for this very reason. Like too many Christmas cookies, the sweetness of Disneyland can turn your stomach. Or it can turn someone else's, and before you know it, you're part of his Falling Down moment.
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I thought the good times had been obliterated. I'd lost all willingness to stand in line for Tower of Terror, and when Mickey passed me on the way to the bar, he just looked like a big-eared jerk.
But that's the thing about Disneyland -- they've already planned for this. Somewhere deep in California Adventure they hide a spicy jalapeño margarita to comfort your nerves and take all the anger away. Not only that but the waitress who brings it seems genuinely excited to serve you, which is a nice change from the real world.
After two on the rocks with salt, I was having fun again. But I totally got a FastPass for Tower of Terror.