The other day, my long-time neighbor, and even longer time acquaintance heard that my wife had split, and came over to chat about it. In the midst of the conversation, he said, “well, marriage ain’t no Disneyland, that’s for sure”. I thought about it for a second and realized that he was wrong. Dead wrong. Marriage is like Disneyland. In fact, it’s exactly like Disneyland.
To be better understood, I should first say how much I don’t care for Disneyland. Don’t get me wrong. The few split seconds of each day that you’re actually riding on rides, Disneyland is pretty fun; it’s the rest of the time at Disneyland that ain’t… well, that ain’t no Disneyland.
Most of Disneyland is rather masochistic. $10 bottled waters, $25 churros, and $100 photographs (which you have to buy or you’re a real schmuck). The complete elimination of your personal bubble is a big added bonus since you are forced to walk cheek to cheek with the most random strangers on earth. The lines are insanely long. The B.O. is overwhelming.
There is no place for nap time, so plan on some seriously cranky kids the second half of the day. The cost to get in is absolutely criminal, and you can pretty much plan on doubling your entrance fee during the day on knick knacks, patty-whacks, and pet dwarves. Getting out is no picnic. You better have at least a half tank of gas if you’re going to make it. Let’s not forget that it’s a lot closer to the equator than almost any of us live, and the heat melts the average person down at least 2 inches or more in height for every day spent there (where do you think the pet dwarves came from? They’re just long time employees that are officially too short to reach the cash registers anymore).
Speaking of employees, they’re all cranky, especially the ones handing out turkey legs for some reason. The kids love meeting the Disney characters, and it is nice because you know exactly where the characters are in the park. The only problem is, you have to wait in a line twice as long for each character as you do the line for Space Mountain. But it’s cool, because your kid gets a full three seconds to meet Tink before they’re swept away by those nightmarish broom characters from Fantasia. You get soaked on the log ride and on Splash Mountain, which isn’t necessarily bad since you’re already soaking wet with sweat. And… you can buy a $100 photograph of the 0.000003 second plunge into the briar patch, so long as you don’t mind sharing your place in the photograph with the lady in front of you flashing the camera for funsies.
Now, I fully expect hundreds of thousands of comments saying that Disneyland is freakin’ awesome and that it really is the most magical place on earth, and that I am obviously one of Satan’s angels for writing a paragraph like the one I just wrote. And I also expect to hear twice as many parents post comments saying they agree with me! But that’s not what this is about. This is about marriage and how it is and isn’t like Disneyland.
Now, to be fair, I have to list the good things about Disneyland before I jump into the marriage comparison. First, there are a few really fun rides. And yes, once you wade through all the crap, it has its great moments. And meeting Mickey Mouse is magical. And the fireworks are awesome. And if you’re lucky enough to be able to see the parade, it’s pretty cool too. For all the crap, there is redemption to it, and that’s why so many people still go and will always go to Disneyland.
And it’s the same for marriage. There’s a reason why people get married in the first place, stay married, or get remarried after their marriage has ended. It’s because despite all the crap, there is redemption to it. There are still the magical moments, the Mickey Mouse meetings, and the fun rides. Between all the monotony, and the boringness, and the blowing of unnecessary money, and the blood, sweat, and tears, there are truly happy and fulfilling moments. And that’s what keeps people coming back for more. That and having kids.
And so it is for me and marriage. I want to be married again someday, just not anytime soon. I’ve been to Disneyland way too recently to actually want to go back in the near future. But I do want to go back sometime. Sometime when I won’t get rained out, and put out, and all of the best rides get shut down. Sometime when Noah is over 44” and can handle the bigger rides. Sometime when the price is worth it to me. Sometime when it’s with somebody who can feel that kind of magic with me, even with all the B.O., cranky kids, and tired feet. Sometime when I know somebody will be willing to sit out the rain and see if the rides open back up.
Because… As much as I may gripe and moan about how much I hate Disneyland, I really don’t hate it at all. I actually love it.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing