In 8th grade English class, I was given a seemingly simple assignment – write a memoir about an important or memorable event in my life. Ideally, 2-5 pages double spaced.
Mine was 36.
This novella, “No Magic Here,” chronicled a trip to Disney World that I’d taken with my Girl Scout troop. That seems boring, doesn’t it? How could I write 36 pages about a bunch of 5th graders running around the Happiest Place on Earth? Well, to this day, that Disney trip is one of the most memorable vacations I’ve ever taken. There were some positive highlights, but it mostly sticks with me for being godawful.
“No Magic Here” was a narrative account of The Disney Trip From Hell, including such plot points as
- Waiting til 5 PM to leave for a trip to Orlando, stopping for bathroom breaks and food every hour, and then getting into the villa at 1 AM!
- Cramming 17 people into a villa!
- My depressing waits outside every thrill ride they rode without me! (I wasn’t very daring back then)
- Spending an entire Park Hopper day on Animal Kingdom, which we were only at for 3 hours!
- My cousin Tiffany having her underpants stolen!
- Fellow Girl Scout Chloe having a massive nosebleed over everyone when we went to see Festival of the Lion King!
And those are just matters of circumstance. The real pinnacle on this disastrous trip was Mrs. Christine, a weird and evil mother who did the following weird and evil things –
- Used up all the batteries in fellow Girl Scout Danielle’s Discman.
- Blew up tea leaves in the microwave
- Fought with our troop leader, publicly (remembered as The Showdown at The Land), over separating the troop across multiple parks
- Swayed two parents over to her side by buying them Disney merchandise
- Made her daughter sleep in a closet
- Allowed Danielle and Alyssa to separate from the group, then reprimanded them for it
- Made my grandfather steal sugar packets from every restaurant in EPCOT so she’d have something to sweeten her coffee
- Made another parent go on a 4AM grocery run to get creamer for her coffee.
- Upset my mother greatly over something, but I’m still not sure *why*
There’s more to be sure, but I don’t have my notes in front of me. In hindsight, most of these are silly and petty, but the high stress environment of 17 people sharing 5 days together surely amplified things! And recounting “The Crimes of Christie” in a dramatic mock tribunal made for a swift, hilarious drive home.
I ended up making an “A” on the assignment, despite my teacher’s helpless look when I set it on her desk. I still reread it every couple of years, usually when I make my annual Disney sojourn, in hopes that no trip will ever be as bad as that one.