Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

“I’m sitting in an undergraduate psychology class when this guy runs in to the room exclaims ‘You gave me a D! Now I’ll never be a psychologist!’  He then draws out a gun, aims it at the professor and the professor falls to the floor. ”

“Oh my god” I say from my desk.

It’s February 12th, 2018 and I’m sitting in a different undergraduate psychology class listening to my professor describe one of her experiences as an undergraduate .

“Then the professor jumps up and says  “Okay, everyone, now I want you to write down what just happened and give a description of the guy who shot me.’ ”

“Would an experiment like that be allowed today?” I ask.

“I certainly wouldn’t do that kind of experiment today, not with all the school shootings we have and guns being everywhere” my professor replies.

Two days later, on February 14th, 2018 I’m doing my readings for that class when I get a text from a friend.

“I see there was yet another shooting, this one in Florida.”

I feel no shock or surprise, just sadness and disgust.

“What part of Florida?’ I ask. I’ve traveled the state of Florida pretty extensively so I can’t help but wonder if this latest shooting happened in an area I’ve been to. Maybe it even happened in a building I’ve walked in front of.

“Parkland in Broward County” my friend replies. The town’s not familiar to me but the county is.

I Google “Florida shooting.”

“20 people injured.  At least it doesn’t say anyone is dead”

“It’s a developing story.  Hopefully they all stay alive” my friend replies.

A few minutes later another text comes through saying “Unfortunately, there are ‘a number of fatalities’. ”

“Happy Valentines Day, America!” I exclaim in to my phone.

“What a loving country. This is at least the eighth school shooting in seven weeks.”

More details from this latest shooting emerge. 17 people were killed. The shooter was a 19-year-old male who had been expelled from the school for fighting. The guns he used were purchased legally. He had a long history of disturbing behavior but the FBI failed to follow up on reports they got about him.

We’ve reached the point where shootings that result in few or no fatalities barely make the news-I couldn’t tell you the details of any of the other school shootings that happened this year-but the Parkland shooting has resulted in enough carnage to get everyone’s attention. It has resulted in a mass outpouring of grief and outrage. At first I try to limit the amount of memes I share on social media advocating for gun control and calling out the corrupt politicians for their complicity in the deaths of children but then I decide to share every last one of them.

When I return to school on Thursday the flag in front of the library is at half mast in honor of the victims of the Parkland shooting. It’s a nice gesture but it won’t prevent future shootings. I can’t help but wonder “Is this school next? Will the next school shooting be in the very library this half-mast flag is in front of?” The last school I attended had a shooting in its library.

On Friday night I’m watching a news show. The talk centers around the Parkland shooting. One guest points out that none of the other school shootings have resulted in change so what’s going to be different this time? Another guest points out that’s what different this time is that the child victims of this tragedy are speaking out.

The kids who were in that school are sharing their experiences, staging protests, calling out those who oppose gun control, making their way to Tallahassee to speak to their representatives.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe the outraged voices of those whose lives have been torn apart by our country’s gun epidemic are reaching a crescendo. Maybe they are becoming as loud, as regular, as impossible to ignore as the gunshots that ring out through our school hallways. Maybe they are becoming as threatening and dangerous to the anti-gun control crowd as guns are to this country. Maybe this is another ‘me too’ movement of sorts-“I too have been affected by gun violence and I will not stand for it anymore.” Maybe the addition of the voices of children who have watched their friends bleed to death on a schoolroom floor are what will push us toward a tipping point.

One can hope.

Hurricanes

Although I live in New Jersey, I have ties to Texas and Florida so Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma affected me on a personal level.  I’ve never been to Texas myself but my brother lives in Houston.  He lived there for a few years for his medical research job before returning to New Jersey for medical school. Then he took a year off from medical school to do more research in Houston.  When he finished medical school he found Houston calling him for a third time. He was assigned a medical residency at Baylor University Hospital.

When Hurricane Harvey hit my family and I were naturally concerned for my brother. When we called or texted him to make sure he was okay he brushed aside our concerns and assured us everything was fine where he was.  He was off of work for the week because of the hurricane and the hospital he worked at was being evacuated the next day but where he was it was just drizzling and the streets weren’t flooded at all.  To prove his point he texted me a picture of his non-flooded street. Then he told me he was bored so he was going for a jog.

The picture my brother was painting of Houston was in stark contrast to the picture the media was painting of it.  CNN was giving accounts and showing images of neighborhoods underwater, people and animals who had been displaced, devastated or were dead as a result of Harvey. There were people who had been trapped by the storm and were desperately awaiting rescue. If they were lucky rescue came-usually in the form of rescue professionals or good samaritans  who were using boats to navigate routes that a few days earlier had been navigated by cars. While these people were grateful to have been rescued, many of them had lost everything.  Their homes had been destroyed and so had their lives as they knew them. Words like ‘catastrophic’, “unprecedented and ‘apocalyptic’ were used to describe the situation.

The fact that the situation was so dire in some areas of Houston but things were perfectly fine where my brother was impressed on me just how big a city Houston is. My brother told us not to listen to CNN because they sensationalized and were overly dramatic about everything. So he was basically calling Hurricane Harvey fake news, which is consistent with his affinity for a certain president who (dis) graced Houston with his presence in the aftermath of Harvey. I’ve noticed a change in my brother’s political and world views since he started living in Texas. Let’s just say I don’t consider it to be a change for the better.

Since he was off of work due to the flood he had time to engage in an hour long text message political debate with me.  It left me feeling rather exasperated. When he was working as a researcher in Houston he would attend Joel Osteen’s church. I brought up the issue of Osteen refusing to open his church as a shelter for flood victims. He said people were getting outraged over something that wasn’t a big deal. He’s become quite the contrarian. He’ll even argue with you about the weather.

We’d barely had time to process Hurricane Harvey before Hurricane Irma came along. I have stronger ties to Florida than I do Texas. I basically consider Florida to be my second home. I resided there for school for about three years, my parents have a vacation house there that I’ve visited several times, I’ve been on several expeditions to Disney World as well as expeditions to various other areas of Florida such as Key West and Miami.

Getting away from my stepfather was a very positive move for both my mother and me but the one downside was that it meant losing the house in Florida to him. It was truly not just a house but a home. It was a beautiful paradise where we relaxed and had fun. It was a place full of charm, character and spirit.  We even called it by an elegant name (the street it was on.)

That house was in one of the areas of Florida that was supposed to be hit the hardest. On the one hand we were attached to the house and didn’t want to see it destroyed. On the other hand it was unlikely that we would ever see the house again so if it was destroyed maybe we wouldn’t feel so sad about not having it anymore. Also the house now belonged exclusively to my stepfather who had released a destructive metaphorical hurricane on our lives that lasted for years so if his house was now destroyed…well….schadenfruede.

The house ended up sustaining only minimal damage but for a while there we were worried. We were only ambivalently worried about my stepfather’s house but we were truly worried for our friend Lucy’s house and for our friend George’s life. George had decided to remain in the area despite the evacuation order. Maybe he needed a more blunt evacuation order like the one issued for an area of Texas during Harvey that asked those who were not evacuating to write their social security numbers on their arm so their bodies could be identified.

George managed to survive the hurricane in one piece but he was so emotionally traumatized by it that now he’s considering leaving Florida for good. To me there’s something ironic about leaving Florida for good because of the trauma you experienced as a result of your refusal to leave it for a few days. Lucy’s house emerged from the hurricane relatively unscathed but her pool cage was damaged. When Lucy asked George if he knew how she could get her damaged pool cage repaired he told her that was an insensitive thing to say when there were people who were really suffering as a result of Irma.

As long as we’re talking about being insensitive, my guilty secret that’s not really a secret is that while I understand that natural disasters are a tragedy and I feel for the people who experience loss as a result of them, when I know I’m safe from them I also find them exciting and fascinating. I was glued to the TV during the hurricanes, enjoying my voyeuristic view in to the disasters that were unfolding.

Of course safety is ultimately more important than thrills or adventure. I was glad to learn that not only was George safe but so was everyone else I know in Florida. That “mark your safe’ feature on Facebook is a wonderful thing. I even found out that the animals I was concerned for were safe. The chickens of Key West had been evacuated with their wings wrapped in newspaper and the six toed cats of the Hemingway house had weathered the storm with the volunteers who had stayed behind. I am sorry for all the people and animals I don’t know personally who did not survive the hurricanes.

Shortly after Irma hit, there was a third powerful storm, Maria. I don’t have any significant ties to Puerto Rico but I did vacation there once as a teenager. It’s a beautiful country that has truly been devastated by Maria. My heart goes out to all its residents.

These natural disasters bring out the best and worst of human nature. There are people who go out of their way to help those who have been impacted by the hurricanes, who open up their hearts, homes and wallets. Then there are jackasses who would rather use tragedy as an opportunity to brag about crowd sizes and insult a society’s infrastructure, who would rather focus on arguing over the national anthem at football games than helping those in need.

All of this while denying that the likely cause of all these hurricanes-global warming- actually exists.  Pretty soon there won’t be enough letters in the alphabet to contain all the hurricanes that occur in a year, to say nothing of all the metaphorical man made hurricanes.

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A Florida Vacation: Homeward Bound

To my father’s credit, in Miami he was mostly Dr. Jekyll and he did a good job of keeping Mr. Hyde in check. However, on the morning we were to leave Miami he snapped at me after becoming frustrated by the mess I’d made in the hotel room, my lack of organization when it came to packing and my hand flapping. My disorganization and stereotyped movements have long been a source of conflict between the two of us.

That afternoon as we pulled in to a drug store parking lot on our way to the airport I dozed in the backseat. I heard my father speaking to Gabrielle in the front seat. He said he was afraid I was sleeping because I was upset by him yelling at me that morning and he felt guilty about it. Then he declared that he would have to be careful about what he said to me because people with my disability were prone to suicide. I had really just been sleeping in the backseat because I was tired but it was nice to hear that acknowledgement from my father. I later got out of the car to pace and flap in the empty side of the parking lot. My father had seen me doing it but rather than lecture me about how it was abnormal and I needed to stop doing it, he just said “Looks like you got some good exercise!’

Earlier in the vacation I’d overheard another conversation between my father and Gabrielle as I was drifting off to sleep.  My father was telling Gabrielle how his first wife had told him that the vacations she took with him were among her most treasured memories. My friend Delilah had sent me an article reporting that when asked about favorite childhood memories, 49% of adults name family vacation memories.  When we were in Disney World, in honor of throwback Thursday on Facebook I had posted a picture of a previous family vacation to Disney World that had included my stepbrother. At the time he was a 12-year-old with spiky hair. One day when we’d been having a family meal at a restaurant surrounded by Disney characters, Alice from Alice in Wonderland pointed to Brandon’s hair and said “Is that a porcupine?” Brandon has since passed away and that remains one of my most cherished memories of him.

The last vacation I went on with my father was to Europe. At the time I was a member of a message board and I posted on that message board about my vacation while I was on it. In the comments section of a blog I found that a member of that message board had written “That imbecile Kira is on a European vacation and is spending the whole time on the internet. Most members of that forum could only dream of going on such a vacation but Kira’s using up all the bandwidth in Romania. Maybe someone should plunk her down at McDonalds so she can know what it’s like to earn something for once in her life. What a spoiled, ungrateful brat!”

I’m sure that person thinks the hotel I stayed at in Miami has more bandwidth than the entire country of Romania but I did use the internet on my Florida vacation and if they don’t like it they can kiss my spoiled, ungrateful ass. The last time I went on vacation I was posting about it on the internet to an audience full of jerks who judged me for it. This time I posted about my vacation to an audience full of friends who appreciated it. Now instead of just reading nasty comments about how I spend my vacation on other peoples’ blogs I’m writing about it on my own blog.

Even though I know the person who made that comment about me on the blog is an asshole and a moron, it still hurt my feelings. I’m used to being shamed for being unemployed but it still upsets me every time.  It’s made me wary of social interactions and inclined to avoid them whenever possible. When I agreed to get together with Jack in Miami I knew there was a good chance he would ask me if I had a job but since I’d already gotten together with friends twice on this vacation, I figured I might as well push myself even further out of my social comfort zone.

I found out that Jack is also currently unemployed. I opened up to him about how judged I feel by others for not having a job.  He pointed out that many people who judge others for not having jobs and who have jobs themselves also have plenty of things they themselves could be judged for. Maybe the kind of people who insult me and call me names for being unemployed belong next to those people I saw marching on the streets of Miami with their signs announcing that atheists and homosexuals are going to hell.

On our journey back to the Orlando airport we passed through Brevard county. It was a real blast from the past for me. For two years I had attended a program for young adults on the autism spectrum in Melbourne, Florida.  My memories of my time in that program are very bittersweet and passing through Brevard county again was a bittersweet experience. I thought back over the good times and the bad times I’d had in Melbourne, the times I’d laughed, the times I’d cried, the fun I’d had and the trauma I’d suffered. I thought of all the interesting people I’d met, the times they’d been kind to me and the times they’d been cruel to me. I thought of the ways in which the program had helped me and the ways in which it had harmed me.

When I decided to attend that program one of its main selling points for me was that it was in Florida. I was enchanted by that land of sunshine, hurricanes, beaches, swamps, alligators, manatees, theme parks, tourists and retirees. When I attended that program in Melbourne I got to experience what central Florida had to offer. When I went to a university in Tallahassee, I got to experience northern Florida. When my mother and stepfather purchased a vacation house in the Fort Meyers area I experienced southwest Florida. With this vacation I had experienced the southernmost parts of Florida.

Florida is a rather controversial and polarizing state. Some love it, others hate it.  Some consider it to be paradise, others consider it hell on earth. Some people can’t wait to move to Florida, others can’t wait to escape. Some consider it to be the best state in the U.S., others consider it to be the worst. Some people just can’t get enough of Florida, others would love nothing more than to saw its’ panhandle off of the continental U.S. and watch the entire state float away.

What everyone can agree on is that Florida is a unique state, a state like no other, a state you have to see to believe. It is a state filled with wonder, weirdness, horror and hilarity. The same could be said about me as a person as well as a few of my family members and several of my life experiences, many of which took place in Florida. Maybe that explains why I love Florida so much, why I have such an appreciation for it, why I keep coming back for more.

That article my friend Delilah shared with me about the impact of family vacations on kids’ happiness said that family vacations have the potential to enhance kids’ brain development by providing new environments that are rich in cognitive, physical, social and sensory interactions. These experiences activate key brain fertilizers that improve executive functioning such as stress regulation, good planning and the ability to learn as well as physical and mental health. Memories of family vacations can also serve as ‘happiness anchors’ during dark times.  While I’m no longer a child, I’d like to think I’m still growing as a person and that I will reap some of those same benefits from this family vacation. At the very least it will be a cherished memory of mine.

At one point when I was texting Delilah about my experiences on this Florida vacation she told me it would make for an interesting blog post. It ended up making for 10 interesting blog posts. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading about my Florida vacation as much as I enjoyed going on it.

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A Florida Vacation: Miami

How do I describe a city like Miami? I think my reaction to it can best be summed up with a certain Facebook status I wrote while I was there: “Never before have I had the urge to go up to so many strangers and ask if I can take their (or their dog’s) picture”.

There were a lot of interesting people in Miami who made some interesting fashion choices. To say they were scantily clad would be an understatement. It was as if they were trying to see how little clothing they could get away with wearing without being arrested for public nudity. Remember how I said that in Key West there were some things that were a little tacky but nothing so far out of the bounds of good taste as to be horrifying? That was not the case in Miami. In Miami there were things so far out of the bounds of good taste, good taste wouldn’t even be able to get their phone calls.

Many people in Miami behaved in interesting ways and by interesting I mostly mean obnoxious. We had a tour bus guide who kept squawking and catcalling at people on the street. He screamed at a woman exiting the courthouse “Your husband told us to pick you up!” When my father asked if he should give the guy a tip I said no, which is also what I said when he suggested riding a bus with that guy again the next day.  The guide we got the next day was much more pleasant. He gave a Florida trivia quiz. I aced it and was very proud of myself.

While walking the streets we encountered protesters holding up signs announcing that homosexuals, witches, atheists, abortionists, drunks, liars, thieves, adulturers, idolaters and fornicators were all going to hell. At least I’ll be in good company in the afterlife.  I was horrified by the number of people I saw riding motorcycles without helmets. Then I saw someone riding a motorcycle without a helmet while taking a selfie.

Miami certainly has its good points though. For one thing, it has the some of most beautiful and vibrant art I’ve ever seen. Vibrant is how I would describe Miami in general. It’s a city that’s full of life and that knows how to party. I don’t care for that partying at 3 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep but I do have to admire the joi de vivre.

There are parts of Miami that are beautiful. Our trivia quiz tour guide told us that Miami is one of the cleanest cities in the U.S. and one of the few U.S cities with a tropical climate. The rip tides made the beaches unsafe for swimming but I got to swim in our hotel’s rooftop pool. Miami also has good food. I was skeptical of Cuban food at first because I figured I would find it too spicy but once I tried it I liked it  Same goes for the pina colada I had with it.

There was a place called The Sugar Factory that had some of the most decadent, delicious looking desserts I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately the night we went there I wasn’t feeling too well, so wanting to avoid a repeat of the Key West vomiting incident I decided to just leave it at spaghetti with butter (despite the fact that I specifically requested no meatballs, it was initially brought to me with meatballs. Everyone seems unable to believe that I could possibly want spaghetti with just butter) and forgo dessert. That was one of the hardest, most mature decisions of my life.

My favorite part of any vacation destination is usually the animals I encounter there. Like Key West, Miami had chickens running through its streets. While waiting for our tour bus we got to observe chicken families with cute little baby chicks. There was an interactive animal park that advertised the opportunity to get sloth-ed. I would have loved to have gotten sloth-ed but unfortunately for me my father and Gabrielle were not so eager to get sloth-ed.

We ventured out of Miami to take a trip to an everglades park. There we went on an air boat ride on which we encountered several alligators. Many of them were named some variation of Lily. None of them were as cute or cuddly as my dog Lily. In addition to alligators the reptile show had tortoises and toads. The tortoises wore signs on their backs that said “Stay back, I bite” and “Rent this space, call 1-800-Go Slow.” A woman in the audience was selected to kiss the toad. It did not turn in to a prince.

I consider Miami to be a fun place to visit but probably not the kind of place where I’d want to live. However, I know there are a lot of people who happily live in Miami. One of those people is my friend Jack.  I had not seen Jack since high school so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive when he first contacted me about getting together. Six months before I had been a recluse and there was no way I would have considered getting together with someone from my past but I’m not the same person I was six months ago so I agreed to have dinner with Jack at my hotel. I’m glad I did.

After our dinner when I was lounging by the pool I got a text from him that read: “It was very nice to see you. I can hardly believe almost 14 years have passed now since high school. Thank you for the dinner and nostalgic Northerner conversation. I miss New Jersey said no one ever. Lol”

I replied with: “It was good to see you too. I had fun. I would have been too shy to reach out to you and suggest getting together so thank you for reaching out to me.”

When I left the pool and returned to the hotel room my father told me to start packing because tomorrow we would be leaving Miami and flying home. Our Florida vacation was coming to an end.

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A Florida Vacation: Theater of the Sea

On our way to Miami we passed a marine animal park called Theater of the Sea. I was still bitter about not getting to go to Animal Kingdom so I asked my father if we could go to Theater of the Sea. He agreed. They offered a swim with dolphins program that I would have loved to have participated in but it cost over $200 so it wasn’t going to happen. The animal performance shows were more reasonably priced.

Let me say up front that it was not without a certain amount of guilt that I went to Theater of the Sea. I’ve seen the documentary Blackfish and I do not entirely approve of keeping marine mammals in captivity and forcing them to perform for humans but damn it, the performing animals are so cute!

The dolphins at Theater of the Sea that danced to music and balanced hoops on their noses were indeed very cute, as were the sea lions that slid down slides and balanced balls on their noses. The reptiles were less amenable to performance. A trainer seemed surprised that an alligator did not come to her when she called it. I would have been more surprised if it had responded to her command.

At the reptile show I learned that a lot of the animals at Theater of The Sea have been rescued and cannot be released in to the wild, which assuaged my guilt over patronizing a facility that was holding them in captivity. There was a turtle that had lost its eyes in a dog attack and a turtle named Quasimodo that had a spinal deformity requiring it to wear a life jacket in order to swim. The trainer told us not to feel too bad for these turtles because they have a happy life at Theater of the Sea. As the names and stories of the reptiles were shared, I found myself annoyed by the male reptiles that had female names and the female reptiles that had male names. Name nerd problems.

At the parrot show the parrots impressed us with their ability to do math and recognize colors and shapes. Many of the parrots were former pets that had been rescued. The trainer doing the show said that she loves the parrots she works with very much and they’re very fun, interesting, intelligent creatures but she would not recommend parrots as pets because they’re very demanding and require a lot of work. They live a long time and are like 2-year-olds that never age. My parents might say the same thing about me.

As we exited Theater of the Sea my father commented that it was a tourist trap. I couldn’t really disagree with him there but it was a fun tourist trap. I told my dad I was hungry and he suggested having a meal of soda, cheese and crackers in the car. At first I protested but when he pointed out that since I’d thrown up the previous night, stopping at McDonalds might not be the best idea, I agreed. It actually wasn’t a bad meal.

The hotel we checked in to on the way to Miami was right on the water and had a lovely view. Once we’d settled in the next order of business was obtaining dinner.Unfortunately for us the grocery stores and restaurants were all several miles away. We were originally going to obtain dinner at a Walgreens but when my father noticed a dollar store next door he decided we might as well get the best possible bargain on our dinner. I was skeptical of his ability to obtain an adequate dinner at the dollar store but he managed to do pretty well for us. Okay, I know most people would not consider yogurt, saltines and popsicles to be an adequate dinner but it was enough to satisfy me at that point. Those popsicles were good. (And let me tell you, on the way out of that dollar store I noticed the strangest looking books I’ve ever seen.)

That night as I fell asleep the moon over the water and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore set a scene of beauty, peacefulness and tranquility. The sound of my father snoring like a chainsaw did not. My father then had the nerve to complain to Gabrielle about her cough, which he deemed to be so unappealing and disgusting. The next morning when I told my father that my Kindle was broken he said it was my fault because I’d left it on the floor and someone must have stepped on it.

I’d had enough of my father blaming Gabrielle and me for our problems so I snapped. I said “It’s a good thing you’re a medical scientist rather than a practicing doctor because the patients that came to you would be blamed and shamed for their illnesses. ‘Hey, patient with a stomach bug, you vomited because you ate too much! Hey, patient with bronchitis, that cough of yours is so unappealing and disgusting! Hey, patient with a broken leg, you shouldn’t have been so careless’!” My father couldn’t help but laugh and acknowledge that I had a point.

Later that morning my father approached me and asked me if he was a good father. “Yes, of course you’re a good father” I replied.

“Then why were you complaining to your mother about me on the phone?”

“Because you have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on. Most of the time you’re Dr. Jekyll but lately Mr. Hyde has been coming out. It would be nice to see less Hyde and more Jekyll from you for the rest of this vacation.”

My father agreed to try to keep Mr. Hyde in check in Miami.

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A Florida Vacation: Key West

Let me reveal that in the process of writing this blog I’ve discovered that my memory is not as good as I thought it was. I had it in my head that the events of my Florida vacation happened in a certain order but when I looked back on the dates of my vacation pictures I discovered that the events happened in a different order than I remembered. Now I think I’ve got the correct order of events sorted out but be aware that some of the names in this blog have been altered intentionally and the order of some of the events may have been altered unintentionally.

Let me also reveal something about my father’s relationship with food and money. I’m not going to say my father is a cheapskate because he’s really not. He spends money on luxurious vacations and he’s taken us out to eat at some really fine restaurants. Yet my father knows the value of frugality and sometimes he’s frugal to an extent that some might consider to be excessive.

For context let me share a story from a previous family vacation. When my father was still married to my mother we went on a vacation to Arizona. For the first half of the vacation we went out to eat at restaurants. From these restaurants my father insisted on saving all the packets of butter, jam and crackers as well as the napkins, styrofoam cups and plastic utensils.  By the time we checked in at a fancy hotel on the way to The Grand Canyon, my father decided it was no longer necessary for us to spend money on restaurants since we could eat the leftovers he’d accumulated from restaurants in our hotel room. When my mother told him that butter, jam and crackers did not constitute an acceptable meal, my father replied “What are you talking about? Of course it’s an acceptable meal, there are people in this world who would love to have a meal like this!”

“Maybe if they were living in an impoverished village in rural Africa but we are not living there!” my mother snapped. She then informed my father that she was taking my brother and me out to eat at a restaurant. At that point my father busted out his crackers, butter and jam and exclaimed “Bon Appetit, Mircea!”

So it was that as we left Fort Lauderdale I could not persuade my father to throw out a days old box of donuts and thus I had to deal with the frosting that melted near my seat in the humid car. So it was that I could not persuade my father to let go of the leftover fish from his meal at the seafood restaurant and thus Gabrielle did not appreciate the fishy scent one of her outfits took on when it ended up getting tossed in next to my father’s uneaten meal a few days later.

The longer the vacation went on, the harder it became to convince my father to eat meals at restaurants. I often had to settle for ice cream or key lime pie. I can’t complain much though because the key lime pie in Key West is delicious. On one occasion when Id’d convinced my father to stop for ice cream he and Gabrielle had no interest in joining me so they waited for me in the car as I went in to the ice cream shop. I have no sense of direction so when I exited the shop, I walked down the wrong road. I was confused when I couldn’t find the car anywhere and I realized I was lost. Thank goodness for cell phones.

When I returned from my Florida vacation someone asked me what my favorite part of it was. I told them that Key West was my favorite part. “Not Disney World?” they asked in surprise. Nope. If you’ve read my blogs about the Disney World portion of our trip you’ll know that Disney World isn’t that much fun when you’re there with three people who hate Disney World. My father and Gabrielle both seemed to really like Key West and I liked it as well so it was a much more pleasant experience.

Key West has a lot to offer. There are points of historical interest, sites of natural beauty and a vibrant nightlife scene. The first day we were in Key West we booked a boating expedition that included dolphin watching, snorkeling and sunset viewing. The woman who booked the reservations asked me how old I was. On the last vacation I went on with my father a woman asked how old I was. When I told her her mouth dropped open in shock and she suggested I was mistaken about my own age. Wanting to avoid a similar situation, I just said to the woman in Key West “A lot older than I look. She then asked if I was over 21. I assured her that I was but I wasn’t going to say how much older.

When we’d been on the dolphin watch boat for about half an hour and hadn’t seen any dolphins I was beginning to fear that we weren’t going to see any but eventually we came upon the dolphin hot spot where we saw a bunch of dolphins that put on a good show for us. After we said goodbye to the dolphins there was snorkeling. Snorkeling was physically uncomfortable for me but I did get some nice views of the aquatic life underneath the water’s surface. Then we saw the sun setting over the water, which was a beautiful sight. The tour guide told us that the dumbest question she gets asked is “How many sunset tours do you do each day?”

As soon as I found out about The Key West Butterfly Garden I wanted to go there. When we first tried to go there we ended up on the opposite side of town from it and then we had trouble finding parking but eventually we got there. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting it to be but it was beautiful and enchanting. In addition to the beautiful butterflies, there were beautiful flowers, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Several times during the vacation my father told me not to post pictures of him on Facebook and threatened to never take me on vacation again if I did. Hopefully he won’t follow through on those threats because when he tried taking a picture of me in front of the butterfly garden he accidentally took a picture of himself and I couldn’t resist posting his accidental selfie on Facebook. When he fell asleep in the hotel room with a butterfly sticker on his hat, I couldn’t help but take a picture. When Gabrielle saw the picture on Facebook she laughed hysterically. My father was not as amused.

I love nature and animals so I appreciate all nature sites. Historical sites, on the other hand, tend to be hit or miss with me. I enjoyed the Tennessee Williams museum and the Ernest Hemingway house because they combined history with literature, which I also love. The Ernest Hemingway house also catered to my love of animals, as it’s home to a family of six -toed cats. I also liked Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park because it had nice beaches and cool old structures. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the fort but we got kicked out when the park closed.

My dad enjoyed the Harry Truman house but I was not so fond of it. That’s fine because I liked the lighthouse, which my father and Gabrielle weren’t interested in. They did some shopping while I ascended the stairs of the lighthouse until I reached the top and was rewarded with a nice view.

I’m not much of a party animal and I had no interest in participating in the nightlife that’s one of the selling points of Key West but it was interesting to observe from afar. I did see some things in Key West that were kind of tacky but nothing so far out of the bounds of good taste as to be horrifying. I got a kick out of the dessert restaurant called Better Than Sex. Honestly the most offensive thing I saw in Key West was the guy who was wearing a Trump/Pence hat and unfortunately that’s something that’s not exclusive to Key West by any means.

The last night we were in Key West I persuaded my father to take us out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I was horrified when I saw dolphin on the menu but the waitress assured me it was a term for the fish mahi mahi and they weren’t grilling Flipper, as that would be quite illegal. I don’t remember exactly what I had for dinner but I remember that I drank pink lemonade and that my dish contained peas. I remember this because in the middle of the meal I started to feel really sick. I ignored it and hoped it would pass but by the time I went to the restaurant bathroom I was feeling awful. I retched over the toilet and unleashed a torrent of pink vomit with chunks of green in it. When I told my father I’d gotten sick he told me it was my own fault since I insisted on eating three meals a day and he extolled the benefits of fasting.

The next morning before we left Key West we stopped at the drug store to stock up on the supplies we’d need for the next leg of our journey. My supplies included anti-nausea medication and temporary filling to replace the filling I’d lost in Fort Lauderdale (which I forgot to mention in the Fort Lauderdale blog.)  When we exited the drug store we were greeted by chickens in the parking lot. That was another thing I loved about Key West.  How could you not love a city that has chickens in front of its drug store? My love of chickens stems from my childhood memories of keeping chickens under the trampoline at my father’s house. Don’t ask. That’s a whole other blog in itself.

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A Florida Vacation: Fort Lauderdale

The next day we checked out of our hotel, said goodbye to my brother and prepared for our journey to Fort Lauderdale. My father asked the concierge about the route to Fort Lauderdale that would take us through the small rural Florida towns. The concierge replied that no one had ever asked him about taking that route and that it was significantly longer than the other route but my father really wanted to show Gabrielle “Trump Country.”

I told my father that I didn’t want to spend an extra two hours in the car just so he could mock poor people and that furthermore he had no idea how anyone in those counties voted, he was just making assumptions based on stereotypes. Yet my father insisted that he was not mocking poor people and damn it this was his vacation too so he deserved to see Trump country!

Since we knew this was going to a be a long car ride we stocked up on food from the drug store, mostly consisting of nutritious snacks such as donuts, Oreos and Pringles.  I slept for the first hour or two of the car ride and I woke up with cramps in my butt cheeks so I asked if we could stop somewhere and stretch our legs. At a gas station my father asked an attendant to recommend an interesting place for us to stop and he recommended a town called Lake Placid.

This was not the Lake Placid on which that horror movie was based. It was a small, rustic town covered in colorful, interesting murals. It also has a real, live, clown school. Even though I’m scared of clowns, I enjoyed seeing the clown school as well as the murals and I took lots of pictures. An hour or two later we made a stop at a nature park at which I got to see a live raccoon in broad daylight and an hour or two after that we arrived at our hotel. We spent some time at the beach and then returned to the hotel room to watch the Oscars, which I found rather boring until that clusterfuck at the end.

In the morning  we went on a boat tour on which we were shown the waterfront properties of the rich and famous. I try not to feel jealous of the wealth and privilege of others because I know I come from wealth and privilege myself but when I saw those mansions I couldn’t help but feel jealous. On that boat ride I also saw my first wild iguana. I hadn’t even known there were wild iguanas in Florida. Apparently they are descended from pets that were released.

Our family friends Carl and Elaine have a condo near Fort Lauderdale and had expressed interest in getting together with us when we were there so I called them and made plans for that night. My father told Gabrielle that he had known Carl and Elaine for ten years. I had to laugh at that because I’ve known Carl and Elaine my whole life and my father knew them before I was born. I have noticed a tendency in people once they reach a certain age to think that anything that happened a long time ago happened about ten years ago, never any longer ago than that.

We met Carl and Elaine as well as their adorable dog Zoe at their condo at around 7. When we told them we were going to Miami and Key West they told us they didn’t like either of those places- Key West was tacky and full of loud, drunk, obnoxious people and it was unsafe to walk the streets of Miami at night, as there was a good chance you would get mugged. I saw Gabrielle’s eyes grow wide with alarm. I just hoped we would enjoy Miami and Key West more than Carl and Elaine did. I didn’t think my father and Gabrielle could possibly dislike those places as much as they disliked Disney World.

Once it became clear to Carl and Elaine that we had not eaten dinner and were hungry we headed over to a diner where we reminisced and had a lively conversation. There was much laughter as well as a few tears. When we were done eating we had a waiter take a picture of the five of us. I captioned it “Here’s to 10 years of friendship-or 35!” Elaine said “35 years feels like 10 years when you’re having fun-and we did.”

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A Florida Vacation: There’s more to Orlando than Disney World

As my brother and I left the Magic Kingdom full of anger and annoyance, I suggested we visit International Drive. Aside from Disney World, International Drive is probably the second most popular and well known place in Orlando.  It’s the city’s main tourist strip.

In addition to Universal Studios and Sea World it has attractions such as a Titanic museum, a wax museum, a chocolate museum, an animal skeleton museum, pirate miniature golf, a murder mystery dinner show and a zombie outbreak experience.  I knew there was no hope of getting my brother to agree to visit any of those attractions but at least we could have dinner there and look around.

I wasn’t sure where exactly International Drive was but I was hoping it was near The Magic Kingdom.  That way we could kind of sort of convince ourselves that our ill fated trek to The Magic Kingdom had been worth it. It turned out International Drive was right next to our hotel.

When we got there we saw some interesting sites including a hotel shaped like a castle and a building that looked as though it was upside down. When we passed the stores full of Disney merchandise I was still feeling so irritated by the whole Magic Kingdom fiasco I was tempted to take a picture of myself giving Mickey the middle finger.

My brother and I argued about what restaurant to eat at like we always do but eventually we settled on one. I don’t remember what I had for dinner but for dessert I had cheesecake lollipops, which were good. I wanted to ride the Orlando Eye, a ferris wheel that gives a birds eye view of the city. We’d seen it from our hotel room and been intrigued by it. I’d asked my friend Mary where it was and she’d said it wasn’t in Disney World so we shouldn’t waste our time but of course since then certain negative feelings towards Disney World had emerged and become known so we were willing to spend our time on non-Disney attractions. My brother said we should save it for the next day when our father and Gabrielle could join us.

When we got back to the hotel and told our father what happened he got to have a glorious ‘I told you so’ moment. “You should have listened to me when I told you the tickets were only good for one park per day. Why did you find that so hard to believe?” he said to me.

I figured that even though we hadn’t gotten to visit the Magic Kingdom that night I should honor the promise I had made to my brother to do something non-Disney the next day. I was so mad about what had happened that night that I wanted to boycott Disney out of spite anyway.

My brother was so tired the next day that he would have been happy staying at the hotel but I wasn’t going to stand for that. I looked up nature parks in the Orlando area and we settled on Wekiwa Springs State Park because of the opportunities it offered for hiking, canoeing and swimming in the springs.

When we got to the springs I was intimidated by the ‘Swim at your own risk’ signs that warned of the possibility of alligators. I know that there’s a possibility of alligators in any fresh body of water in Florida though. The springs looked so inviting so I decided it was a risk I would just have to take. I’d read that the springs were very cold so I prepared myself for a polar plunge but to my surprise and delight the water really wasn’t that cold. After I’d been in it for a few minutes it felt warm. I had a nice swim and I exited the swimming hole with all my limbs intact.

After I’d dried off my brother and I went on a hike. He’d sat out the swimming because he’d forgotten his swim suit. After we’d been walking for about half an hour I discovered to my dismay that he’d also forgotten to bring water. Luckily this is Orlando we’re talking about so this nature park had a store that had not only water but soda, chips, sandwiches, ice cream and cupcakes. After I’d gotten the food I asked my brother if he wanted to go canoeing but he said he was too tired so we left.

The drive back was not too pleasant for me because my brother had the radio tuned to Armed America. I wasn’t sure how or why there would be a radio station dedicated solely to gun laws in America but needless to say as someone who really dislikes guns and is very pro gun control, I strongly disagreed with the ideology that was put forth on that station.

That night we had dinner at another restaurant on International Drive with our father and Gabrielle. Then we rode the Orlando Eye. Although Gabrielle had no problem riding the London Eye, she decided she didn’t want to go on the Orlando Eye so it was just the three of us. I didn’t find the view from the top to be all that impressive but the ride was nice enough, especially since we got free cokes (the ferris wheel is owned by Coca Cola.)

Before we’d gotten on the ferris wheel we’d had our picture taken in front of it. When we got off we were asked if we wanted to purchase our pictures in a little booklet about the Orlando Eye. My father asked how much it was and was told that it was 45 dollars. “45 dollars?” my father replied incredulously. I panicked for a moment because I was afraid he was going to say  “But I thought it was free!’, which is a tired old joke of his that makes me cringe every time but he handed over the 45 bucks and said  “Ah, well, it was an experience, a moment in time.”

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A Florida Vacation: Epcot

The next day as I was getting out of the hotel shower I noticed to my alarm that there were words written in the condensation in the mirror. One word was ‘you’ and the rest of the words were undecipherable. Of course my mind made the message say “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE”. The message definitely hadn’t been there when I got in the shower and no one had entered the bathroom while I was showering so I was pretty freaked out. I was relieved to learn that the laws of chemistry, physics or whatever science it is that I don’t understand said that the words were most likely written on the mirror before I showered but it took the steam from the shower to make them visible.

The next day was to be our last day in Orlando and we had a conversation about how we would spend the rest of our time. Since my feelings towards Disney World were very different from my traveling companions’ feelings towards Disney World, the conversation got kind of heated. Gabrielle said that tomorrow she definitely did not want to go to Disney World.  My father and brother agreed. The thought of not going to Disney World the next day was anathema to me and since I’m a big animal lover missing out on Animal Kingdom would be a real bummer. Still, my brother insisted that since he hated Disney World and his vacation time was limited he deserved a Disney-free day.  That night my father was having dinner with some business colleagues. My brother had the option of going to the dinner or going to Disney World with me.

Most people would have immediately chosen Disney World without even having to think about it but for my brother the decision involved figuring out which one he considered to be the lesser of two evils. Eventually I came up with a compromise. I said “How about this- you go to Disney World with me tonight and I’ll do a non-Disney activity with you tomorrow.” “Deal” he said and we shook on it.

I managed to get us all to Epcot at around noon. My friend Mary was visiting Disney World to run in a Princess Marathon so we met up at Epcot. We had our picture taken together and I captioned the picture “The people who actually like Disney World.”

Mary visits Disney World frequently so she’s picked up some pointers on how to make the most of your experience there. She told us that you could reduce your wait time for Test Track by entering the single riders line. We did that and afterwards we went on some space ship ride. The ride offered two options: an intense version and a less intense version. I went for the intense version while my brother did the less intense version with Gabrielle. My brother complained that his version of the ride was boring and I complained that my version left me feeling nauseated.

Then we saw some show about colors. My brother and I snickered about how lame it was. After that we moved on to The Sea section of Epcot. We went on a Finding Nemo ride and since we rode in shells I busted out the camera on my phone and took a shellfie. Upstairs there was an aquarium with various marine life including manatees. This prompted my father to start calling Gabrielle Manatee and he periodically referred to her as Manatee for the rest of our trip. If I was called Manatee I would take it as a disparaging comment on my weight and would be insulted but I think my father meant it affectionately.

After The Sea we split up with my brother and me going in one direction and my father and Gabrielle going in another direction. My brother and I were both hungry so we went to The World Showcase to find a restaurant. “What country do you want to eat in?” my brother asked. “A country in which the food is not spicy” I replied.  France seemed like a good bet for non-spicy food so we went to a French restaurant.

When my brother noticed that I wasn’t eating my salad he pointed out that I hadn’t had any intention of ordering a salad but when the waitress had asked me what salad I wanted I panicked and chose one. It was similar to what the waiter had done with my dad and the ribs last night. It was another example of Disney employees sneakily tricking you in to paying too much money for things you didn’t want or need and this was why he hated Disney. I could not argue with him there.

After our meal we went to The Land. We saw a boat ride with a very short wait so we hopped on. We assumed that since the wait was so short the ride would be lame but it was actually pretty cool and interesting. Then we went on Figment’s Imagination Ride which is the kind of childish brightly colored ride full of song and dance that I love and my brother hates. After that we saw a compilation of 3-D Disney animated shorts. They were so cute and funny that even my brother enjoyed them.

When we met up with my father and Gabrielle again we discovered that in our time apart we had gone on the same rides. Now it was time for my father and Gabrielle to leave and get ready for the business dinner. My brother had agreed to continue doing Disney with me but I told him I didn’t want to stay at Epcot. I wanted to go back to The Magic Kingdom to do some of the classic rides we hadn’t gotten to the first time we were there, especially the haunted mansion. My father said we couldn’t do that because the tickets only allowed us to go to one park a day. I told him he was mistaken about how the tickets worked.

As we headed off to The Magic Kingdom  (which I’ve just learned is now called Magic Kingdom; ‘The’ has been removed from several of its signs)  I felt excited. This was going to be fun.

When we reached the parking lot we had to pay $20 for parking despite the fact that we were only going to be there for a few hours. They charge a flat rate for parking each day, regardless of the amount of time you’re spending in the park. It took us a while to find a spot but we eventually found one in the Ursula section. Then we had to take a trolley to the monorail. Then we had to wait among the crowds for the monorail. Then we were packed like sardines in to a monorail full of loud children and taken to the park entrance. Then we waited in a very long line to be admitted to the park. I knew it would all be worth it in the end though.

Finally we made it to the front of the line. After having our bags checked and our fingerprints verified, my brother inserted his ticket in to the machine that would admit us in to The Magic Kingdom. It didn’t work. He tried it again. It didn’t work that time either. He tried a third time. It still didn’t work.

A Disney employee came over to investigate the problem. After scanning my brother’s ticket she said to him “This ticket is only valid for one park per day and you’ve already been to Epcot today.”

A wave of crushing disappointment came over me. This was supposed to be the happiest place on earth but I wasn’t feeling very happy. In that moment The Magic Kingdom lost some of its magic for me. In that moment I was able to see Disney World through my brother’s eyes: A world full of long lines, crowds and hassles, a world where you were tricked in to giving up ridiculously large amounts of money for rewards that didn’t pay off.

That Disney employee could have said to us “Look, your ticket isn’t good for The Magic Kingdom but we know you came all the way here, paid for parking, and fought your way through crowds. Since there are only a couple of hours left until The Magic Kingdom closes we’ll let you in tonight.” You’d think that would be in the spirit of what the place was supposed to be about. Of course she didn’t do that though. She chose to follow the rules, rules made by a bunch of dirty, sneaky money grubbers.

I turned to my brother and said “Fuck Disney World. Let’s see what else Orlando has to offer.”

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A Florida Vacation: Hollywood Studios

We discovered much to our relief and delight that we weren’t staying in a crappy motel but in a fancy hotel. I had my own bed and my brother had his own room. The hotel had nice amenities such as a large outdoor pool and room service. Since we were too exhausted to go out to a restaurant that night we took advantage of room service. After dinner my brother decided to tell me how much he hated Disney World.

“How can you hate Disney world? Disney World is awesome” I replied.

“That’s just your opinion.”

“Yes, obviously it’s my opinion since it came out of my mouth. I don’t think I should have to put a ‘This is my opinion’ disclaimer on everything I say.”

“But you always state your opinion as if it’s a fact.”

“Well, what is there to hate about Disney World?”

“Let’s see…the long lines, the huge crowds, the loud noises, the ridiculous prices…”

“Well, don’t you like the rides?”

“Not really. I’m so tall that there’s not enough room for me to stretch my legs in them and I’m uncomfortable.”

Soon after that I discovered much to my dismay that my other traveling companions are not big fans of Disney World either. You’re probably wondering why three people who hate Disney World decided to go to Disney World. I wondered the same thing. It sounded like my brother came because he felt like he didn’t have much of a choice in the matter and he wanted to spend time with us over his break from work.  He said it was a shame that his break coincided with the Disney World portion of our trip rather than the Fort Lauderdale/Key West/Miami portions.

As for why my father who hates Disney World decided to take his girlfriend and his son who also hate Disney World to Disney World, I’m not entirely sure. I’d like to think he did it for my sake but being at Disney World with three people who hated Disney World really put a damper on my fun. Getting my traveling companions to actually go to the parks was like pulling teeth and required a lot of nagging on my part. We never even made it to Animal Kingdom.

The day after we went to Magic Kingdom, I tried to get us all to Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning but my traveling companions were having none of it.

“Let’s stay around the hotel pool until noon and then go to Hollywood Studios. You can’t spend more than 5 hours at Disney World anyway” my father said.

“Sure you can” I replied.

The hotel pool was nice though. It included a lazy river in which you could float on inner tubes and a water slide.  As I glanced at the water slide I was reminded of my childhood days when my mom would take us swimming at a public pool that had a water slide. I loved that water slide and my mom loved it as much as I did.  She went on it over and over again. At one point I saw one of the lifeguards point to my mother and heard him say to another lifeguard “Why does that grown woman keep going on the water slide?’

The advantage I have in looking young enough to be an adolescent is that I don’t have to worry about getting crap from the lifeguards about riding the water slide as a grown woman. It didn’t seem like this lifeguard had a problem with adults riding on the water slide anyway. He happily chatted with Gabrielle when she made her way to the top of the water slide. Gabrielle ended up having the same hesitations about riding the water slide as she did about riding Space Mountain. She continued to chat with the lifeguard and let several children go on the slide before her. She called to me from the top of the water slide and said I should try it. When I told her I already had, she told me to do it again. When I did so and she saw that I survived she went down the slide herself. She also survived.

By the time we left the pool it was after one. Then my dad got trapped on a long business call and by the time he got off it it was after 2. When we looked for my brother he was nowhere to be found. We finally decided to go without him, as he wouldn’t be too upset about missing out on Disney World anyway.  By the time we arrived at Hollywood Studios it was after 3.

I insisted we go on The Tower of Terror first because that’s my favorite ride in all of Disney World. Once again my father and Gabrielle spent the entire time we were in line debating whether or not they would go on the ride. Gabrielle ended up riding with me while my father sat it out.

The next ride I wanted to go on was The Rockin” Roller coaster. Deciding whether or not they wanted to go on this ride was easier for my father and Gabrielle because when they saw that the wait was 90 minutes they decided they didn’t even want to stand in line. I wasn’t thrilled at having to wait 90 minutes but I remembered it as being a fun ride and I decided that with my Kindle the wait was manageable. It was agreed that I would wait in line and go on the ride by myself. I would meet up with my father and Gabrielle afterwards to see the Fantasmic light show.

While I was in line an announcement came over the loudspeaker. Disney said they were sorry but the wait time was going to be longer than anticipated. At this point the people surrounding me craned their necks around the crowd in front of us to try to determine how much longer we’d have to wait.  Some people decided ‘fuck it’ and left the line but I stuck it out until the end.  We made it to Fantasmic just in the nick of time.

When we were trying to decide what to do for dinner I suggested eating at Downtown Disney. However, I knew that just like Hollywood Studios had been MGM the last time I was there, Downtown Disney also had a new name. I didn’t know what the new name was so I Googled and as best I could tell Downtown Disney was now the The Disney Boardwalk. It was conveniently located near Hollywood Studios. I called my brother (who had forgone Disney World in favor of working out at the hotel gym and napping in his room) and told him to come meet us at The Disney Boardwalk.

When we got there it appeared to be a hotel.

“I think we have the wrong place” I said.

“Let’s see. Maybe the shops and restaurants are behind the hotel” my dad replied.

When I asked a hotel employee where the shops and restaurants were he gave me a baffled look.

“You mean the gift shop?”

“I’m looking for the place that used to be Downtown Disney.”

“Oh, the place you’re looking for is Disney Springs.”

I called my brother and told him, just kidding, he needed to meet us at Disney Springs, not The Disney Boardwalk.

When we got there it took us about an hour to find a restaurant that had a wait time of less than an hour. The restaurant we settled on was a pretty good one. The waiters were friendly and the food was served in large portions. After the appetizers were ordered my brother turned to me and said “Father just ordered ribs with his appetizer without realizing it.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“The waiter realized that English is not Father’s first language so while he was explaining all the appetizers he slipped ‘Do you want ribs?’ in there. Father was confused and just said yes. He had no idea he was ordering ribs.”

Sure enough when the ribs arrived my father was surprised by them. He ate them anyway though. My brother then turned to me again and said “See, this is one of the reasons I hate Disney. They’re sneaky bastards who shamelessly grub for your money in any way they can.”

We were way too stuffed to order dessert but as we walked towards our car we decided ice cream would be nice. Unfortunately it was late and we couldn’t find any. As we entered the parking lot my father asked me if I’d had a good day. I acknowledged that although I hadn’t gotten ice cream and I hadn’t seen as much of Disney World as I would have liked, it had been a good day.

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