Our group was to consist of a number of adults, of which two were Disney employees with silver passes, and three children. In between our passes and some left-over guest passes I had -- you get two every 6 months when working for Disney -- we could get everyone in. I was basically going as a favor, I think. I did want to see the "Submarine Voyages" ride that had been retrofitted to become a "Finding Nemo" ride, but that was about it. Maybe find some other friends I knew would be in the park that day. I felt no great desire to do rides or anything. Just get some friends in to save them some very expensive tickets. Because I am kind of pissed at Disney.
I was first in Downtown Disney, which is a retail area, managed by Disney, between the parks and the Disneyland Hotel. It has shops like a Lego store and Department 56 and a bakery restaurant. timfogartyfeed
, also known as Daddy Tim that day, was coordinating everyone, so he told Regina and Karen, her neighbour, who were coming together with Regina's son and her nieces, where to find me. We met, we introduced, I met the son J who was 4, and the two girls who were 7 and 9. Regina and Karen had to go to the restroom. The kids were asked if they had to go. They did not. They were ok. Off the women went, leaving me suddenly in charge of 3 children. This alone should probably have Regina removed from custody, but ok, I guess nobody warned her that of all of Daddy Tim's friends, I was probably the most child-unfriendly. "Behave or I'll sell you into white slavery," was probably the first thing I said when we were alone. Which is ill-chosen because by US standards, the girls register as black. We chatted some while waiting, as much as one can chat with a 7 and 9 year old who wonder who you are and a 4 year old who wonders if you are safe to talk to at all.
We hang. We wait. We wait. Women, restrooms, of course we had to wait. And J., of course, who had been asked 5 minutes ago, and vehemently denied... never mind. He had to go. So did H., the seven year-old. I am in the middle of a retail area with three children in need of a restroom. I have visions of taking these children to a restroom and setting off a three-fire Amber alert when the mother and friend return to not find their children they left in the care of a virtual stranger. Hasn't it been hours since those women left already?
-- "Oh god," I almost panic, "where the hell is your mother?'
H looks up at me: "You said the 'h' word."
I am already unnerved from having had to watch my language.
-- "Which one is the H word!" I cry.
"'Hell'," H. whispers with a look that tells me this girl, barring any major trauma in her life (which is about to happen under my watch I am sure omygawd) is going to grow up into a Sassy Black Woman. By next week.
-- "I won't tell if you won't," is my only response.
H. has a phone number. I call it. It's Karen: Regina has already left the restroom and should be on her way. I do not see her. The boy is grabbing his pants. I call another number H. reads from her slip of paper. A man picks up, clearly not Regina's cell-phone. I apologize and hang up. H. looks at the paper again and asks "Is this a seven?" I turn my head to her incredulously. It actually was a seven, though.
I make an executive decision, having peeed my pants at a birthday party when I was 6 for having been too shy to ask where the restroom was: we're going. I go to the sunglasses kiosk to ask where the nearest restroom is. The retail worker points in the direction that materialises my darkest fear: it is in the Disney store. I am to guide three single-digit agers on a time-critical mission through a toy store.
"Ok, we're going. Follow me." I wished I had leashes. I have to both guide and make sure they don't get lost on this very busy crowded day. This means a constant craning of the neck and hoping the nine year old, wise beyond her years I can already tell, keeps the two in line in front of her. We enter the store. We walk through. I keep trying to not bump into things as I check back to make sure the plushy toys do not distract them. Where is that damn restroom?
I brusquely cut ahead in a cashiers line to ask. The cashier points me to farthest end of the store. I manage to get all three of them there.
I look at the girls: "Do any of you need help?" They look at me as if I am insane. OK, I say, "We're meeting here!" in a firm tone of voice and point to the ground, here in the hallway where the restrooms are. I resign myself to letting them out of my sight and supervision. They go in. I take J. into the men's restroom. "Do you need help?"
tneedhelppleasedon'tneedhelp I mantra in my head; I am a gay adult man, unrelated to you, who will have to handle your four year old genitals in the United States of America,
a country that still thinks in every homosexual, if not every adult, lurks a pedophile, if you need help here. Basically, if you need help, thirty seconds from now as I do whatever it is one needs to do to help you do your bathroom functions, I will be one temper tantrum of yours, right there, right then, away of being on a sex-offender registry for the rest of my life.
His answer: "Yeah. Which stall do I use?" They are both busy. One opens up.
-- "That one!" Seems to be all the help he needs. I watch through a crack next to the door, he seems to be ok standing up, whizzing oh god I am watching a 4 year old I do not know urinate through a crack please no one come in play it cool play it cool lean agains this wall keep an eye on him if they do come in of course you are related thank god I am as blond as him. He is ready and comes out, pants properly closed, walks to wash his hands. He is too short to both push the button to make water flow and was his hands, so I lean over to push it. This should be an endearing photo-op, a snapshot memory, but I want it to be over. Fuck soap, let's hope his mom washed his dick this morning, water will do; I grab a paper towel, hand it to him, and go. Outside, another fear calmed: the girls are indeed there and waiting.
"I didn't have to go, I just made that up," H says.
-- "I hate you," is my answer. I put enough Disney-Channel sitcom-mock in my voice to amuse them both. Or at least not make them cry. Whatever.
We walk back in formation, but I decide to get out of the store faster and walk the rest through the plaza instead of the store. I walk beside them now.
-- "J, can I carry you?"
"No," he says.
-- "Ok, can you walk faster then?"
This seems to amuse him to no end and he starts frog-marching at insane speed. For a four year old. We get back to where we were supposed to meet: the women and the gay adult men are now all there. Daddy Tim laughs at me when he sees my pissed off face -- he knows I do not do children. Moments later, as we are sorting out day passes and silver passes, I tell Regina that I used the H word.
"H. already told me you did. And that you hate them."
Later I get told, again, this time for using the F-word. F-word? I did not! "Fool." 'Fool'?
Am I going to have any of my vocabulary left in front of these girls?
We get in the park, and somehow we end up directly in the line to the Nemo things. Daddy Tim frets a bit, the line will be long, this might take an hour, the children will be bored. They see live mice scurry in the bushes, they get a quiz to read, they talk to mom, Tim explains to them that part of Disneyland is standing in line, we constantly move, the other adults in our group get out of the line and buy them flashlights and hot dogs.
-- "Don't worry. Years from now this whole thing will be a fond memory of Disneyland. They'll forget all about the line in no time," I tell Daddy Tim. "I, however, will resent you for decades to come." Later, during another conversation, I will confess with broad hand gestures and comic intonations that "I am just not one of his supportive friends."