We have come to Disney World to celebrate my daughter’s third birthday. Violet chews her princess vitamins in the parking lot, smoothes her iridescent bodice; she holds herself out like a cake topping. My husband sprung that ball gown on her in the hotel this morning. “Hot dog,” she’d squealed and wormed her way through layers of tulle, sliding into plastic feather heels. I stuffed a pair of her sneakers into my bag.
Already the sun is beating off the asphalt.
My husband crouches and she boards his shoulders, straddling him. It is Easter Week but Disney handles the masses with remarkable efficiency. There is a tram, a monorail, a steady clip through cattle gates. I would have killed to sleep in but my husband said it was important to see the look on her face, as if the Magic Kingdom were opening just for her. She is an only child and he is right.
This sure is something.
Niceness abounds. An employee in yellow stripes pins Violet with a First Timer button. The weight of it pulls the strap of her dress off her shoulder.
This is my first time, too. I once visited its shabby California cousin but can’t remember past the Incredible Hulk grabbing my waist and spinning me like a prop until I felt only the swell of the crowd waving autograph books and my father’s lens lapping up the spectacle, throw-up included.
We follow the parade down Main Street. Through the sound system Mickey Mouse promises that dreams come true. Children trip alongside their families in mermaid fins, Snow White collars, fairy costumes. My husband whistled at Violet twirling on the dull carpet of our room this morning, fast as a merry-go-round until she rammed into the edge of the TV.
Alice and the White Rabbit lip-sync “a very merry un-birthday” as they glide by on their float. Fireworks erupt from the parapets of Cinderella’s Castle. Violet claps like a windup toy.
At Betsey Ray’s sleepover party in the second grade we played Truth or Dare. I could hardly believe I’d been invited until Betsey thrust a sharpened pencil at my chin and double-dogged me to shove it you-know-where. I begged for truth but Betsey said it was her call, her birthday, her dare. The pencil had hearts stamped all over it. My sleeping bag was covered in dwarves but it was just girls so I did what I was told until I emerged from the dark good and scratched.
In Toontown, Violet tries to fit her mouth around a jumbo lollipop while waiting on a hug from Tinkerbelle. The nymph sprinkles her with a pollen of pixie dust, leaves a foundation melt on her arm. Violet glows beneath this stranger’s wings.
My husband snaps their picture.
When Mark Pith kissed me in junior high I didn’t brush my teeth for a week even though we’d been shut in a closet at random and his jaw hung loose from wine coolers as if it’d been shot up with Novocain. A kiss is a kiss is a kiss.
Man, it is hot in Orlando.
We ride the Jungle Cruise. The animals are fake yet it remains a big draw of Adventureland. That and the turkey legs, which are big as clubs but 100% real. You should see how America eats them. I feel almost skinny. My husband picks up a stuffed giraffe as a souvenir.
Call it luck. Until I planted that hissing plate of fajitas (hot, very hot) before him at Mary’s Cantina I had no idea anyone could see pregnant skin as potential.
Most of the time we stay in Fantasyland. There’s Dumbo, Peter Pan. The guests on line for a small world are so pink from the sun they look like they’d been slapped. We share the boat with twin pirates. Violet plugs a thumb in her mouth and folds into me. The song plays. The ethnic puppets are in need of an update.
Thing is, I used to get wet dreaming of prostitution.
From there it’s over to the Castle for cake. Violet bangs her heels into my husband’s chest, squeezes him with her thighs. My husband is all smiles and sweat. The reservation didn’t come cheap. Below the flying buttresses banquets of girls squirm in wilted sateen. There is lipstick in their teeth, tiaras in their hair; some wear extensions of glittery curls. Violet ogles them. My husband cups her eyes as hired characters present the decorated sheet cake.
“Blow, princess,” he says, opening his hands.
Sometimes I get that slut feeling with my husband. He works and I stay home which makes it a fair trade although I never imagined it like this. After my parents’ divorce my mother warned me not to count on a man but that’s because she never found one worth counting. It’s his name on the electric. Still, I get tired of being the DVR.
Last week afterwards he flicked my ass and asked for popcorn.
When I returned with a bowl he was watching a show on volcanoes.
My husband leads Violet down the grand curved staircase as if it is her wedding. At the door of the Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique a fairy godmother pops out to whisk my daughter away. There is an extensive priced menu of services.
Violet calls my husband the best daddy in the world.
I know how she feels.
Last night he came up behind me while I was flossing my teeth. I leaned over the sink to spit the blood from my inflamed gums and he prodded. I thought he would stab right through me.
Of course, a part of me is flattered.
“How may I grant your wish?” The fairy godmother chirps as she pumps up Violet in her salon chair. During the makeover my husband jaunts off to Tomorrowland for a quick thrill on Space Mountain. He knows indoor roller coasters would make me hurl so I stay beside Violet and together we stare into that mirror and wait.
Enthusiasm is contagious.
I worry my daughter will meet a nice man.