I was twenty and in college. What I had really wanted to do after high school was enlist in the army, but I just couldn't get my parents to consent to that. They thought it was horrendous that I would even ask.
This is the story of the time when I fell in love with a Disneyland Alice.
I lived in the L.A. area, so growing up I always had an annual pass to Disneyland. Like some people that lived in the San Diego area and went to Tijuana, Mexico just for the hell of it, my parents and I did that, too. It didn't matter what the occasion; we just went to have some family fun.
My twin sister, Amy, had always wanted to play Belle from Beauty and the Beast at Disneyland, and because of her I knew all about the grueling audition process and what it meant to be a character. They said that she was too tall to play Belle, but the perfect height for Goofy, Mickey Mouse's best pal. That was a major let down to her, but she took it on anyway, as we have always been a Disney oriented family.
I was attending school with some friends at UC Santa Barbara (on a sports scholarship, but had yet to play any sports there...go figure), about an hour and a half away from home and two hours away from my home away from home. So during Spring Break, my friends and I decided to go to Disneyland. There was me; my best friend, Mark, and his girlfriend, Selena; Greg; Jazzy, and her brother, Brett. Selena owned a 1960s Volkswagen van, which is what we used for our trip.
A little warning about Anaheim, California in April, or any time of year: It is rarely cold. The entire time the six of us were there, we always had to wear shorts. The only time we didn't was at night when we came back for the parades and fireworks, or getting in a last minute ride on Space Mountain. Like I said, Disneyland was our home away from home.
The entire ride up there, Mark was making out with Selena, who had handed the wheel over to Greg, our 'designated driver'. After a while of them sucking face (and me being irritated, as I hadn't had a girlfriend since sophomore year of high school when my heart had been broken by the school 'mean girl', Katy Ochoa), Mark looked at me and said, "Charlie, I think this is the trip where you'll finally get a girlfriend."
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, right. Me, get a girlfriend at Disneyland. I'd never see her again. Nope. Not gonna happen."
"But you're cute!" Jazzy called from the front seat where she sat next to Greg, her best friend. Brett had tried to set me up for a long time with her until she came out in senior year of high school. She claimed that it didn't stop her from thinking guys were cute, and said she would 'go straight anyday' for Captain Jack Sparrow.
I shrugged. "I'd rather date once I'm out of school," I said, and left it at that.
That day, to our surprise, the park was near empty. In case you didn't know, having an empty park during a major vacation period is practically the apocalypse in the Disney world. But we didn't question it. Lines were shorter and we practically owned the place.
The morning was slow, mainly because Jazzy and Selena insisted on shopping at every gift store imaginable. Sick of it, me and Brett wondered off on our own, looking for something to do.
We had just gotten off the teacups for a breather before we did round two...when I saw her.
She was skipping around with the Mad Hatter, singing 'A Very Merry Unbirthday' and waving at kids. Her blue dress was flowing in the wind and her eyes were sparkling. Then she saw me and waved before stopping to take a picture with a rambunctious three-year-old.
"Hey, wanna go take a picture with Alice?" Brett teased.
Stupidly, I nodded. "Hell yes I do."
He laughed but went with me to catch Alice and the Mad Hatter before they ran off. The were talking to the child they had stopped to take a picture with, who had an overly large birthday pin on his shirt.
"We can't celebrate with you until tomorrow," Alice told him in a sweet voice. "Then we can have an unbirthday party!"
"Because you only get one birthday a year," the Mad Hatter said, "but what about the other three hundred and sixty four days?"
I waited patiently for the little kid to go away. When he did, Alice saw me and smiled. "Is it your unbirthday today?" she asked.
"Who, me?" Brett asked, smirking. Quickly lying, he said, "No, but it's Charlie's..." and shoved me at her.
Unable to say anything else, I blurted out, "Yeah, you're my favorite."
"Oh?" Alice said, smiling happily. "Would you like an autograph?"
I was about to tell her I didn't have a pen, but Brett produced a Sharpie and said, "Yeah, sign his guns."
As if on cue, they dropped to the ground in a kneeling position, looking around covering their heads. "A gun?" the Hatter said in an almost exact impression of Ed Wynn in the original Disney cartoon. "He's got a gun!"
"No, my arm," I said, laughing. They took the job very seriously, it seemed.
"Oh, it's alright!" Alice told the Hatter. As she stood, she stood, taking the pen from Brett and signing my arm from where I rolled the sleeve up. It was amazing being completely alone with a character; usually once someone sees you with someone, they run up to take a picture or grab an autograph. I was never absolutely sure why, but I got chills from her signing her name.
The Hatter took the pen from her and stuck it in his coat. She smiled but said, "Hatter, that is not where pens go."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said defiantly, as Brett and I started to 'yell' at him for the pen, and he finally took it out and signed my arm under Alice's signature. Brett pulled out a camera and nudged me; he knew me far too well.
"Picture?" Alice said happily.
"Sure, why not?" I said, mentally cursing Brett.
"Oh, I love pictures!" the Hatter said, fluffing his hair. "How do I look, Alice?"
"Mad as a hatter."
"Oh, good! Now how about a little 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil'?"
Alice excitedly covered her ears with her hands and stood on my right; the Hatter took to my left and covered his mouth, so I covered my eyes, laughing at their antics. Brett took the picture and I thanked Alice for her time.
"Is it your unbirthday again tomorrow?" she asked.
I nodded. "For the rest of the year."
"Oh, have a very merry unbirthday!" she said, then her and the Hatter skipped off to 'find the white rabbit'. I stood watching her, feeling myself turn red. She was so childish, so very Alice like...and at the same time, even though she was in costume and more than likely putting on a fake accent, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
"Earth to Charlie?" Brett said.
"Don't you want to go on another round of the teacups?"
I shrugged. "Maybe later. What about that Alice, huh?"
He laughed. "Dude. You are so in love with a Disney character."
Hi. So uh. Lame idea, I know. But I thought it'd be a cute story as long as I execute it properly. It's actually my dream job to play Alice at Disneyland, and as you can probably tell from my username, I'm a huge Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter fan. So uh. Read and review?