Sara Lippmann


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.

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