- Kristan Higgins
The Mouse and Me
Updated: May 3, 2022
Mickey says, “Call 911!”
This week, I have to go to the Romance Writers of America National Board meeting. It’s three days, usually a good 10 hours per day, and at turns, it’s both exhilarating and exhausting. But this meeting, I’m dreading. Why, you ask?
Because it’s at Disney World.
I hate Disney World. Here’s why.
Once upon a time, when I was ten or so, my parents decided we shouldn’t be deprived of that iconic experience and so loaded us three Higlets into the back of the station wagon. We had sleeping bags, a cooler, and books for entertainment. This was back before we cared much about seatbelts, so we three kids would play such inventive games as “Flush You Down the Toilet,” in which one sibling would be forcibly held on the floor of the car while the captor rolled down the window. If you couldn’t get free before the window was rolled down (manually, this is the olden days), you were considered flushed, and would have to wave your arms around and say, “Oh, no, I’m in here with all the poop and pee! Help me!” Also played were classics such as “Stop Looking at Me” and “I’m Not Touching You” and my parents’ feeble attempt, “Who Can Be the Quietest.”
The chamber of doom
Car rides were especially challenging for me. I got carsick. Frequently. But my parents were prepared—Mom dosed me with Extra Strength Dramamine before we left. I woke up somewhere in Virginia, bleary-eyed but miraculously well. All the way down to the Sunshine State, I didn’t so much as burp.
Picture about a dozen of these, but with more food coloring and fewer actual blueberries.
After a glamorous stay at the Howard Johnson’s in Fort Lauderdale (all five of us, one room), we made ready to go to Disney World. It would be so exciting! We couldn’t even picture the splendor that awaited us! We stuffed ourselves at the free breakfast buffet HoJo’s offered—included in the room price! “Eat up, kids,” my father said. “We won’t be stopping till Orlando. We only have one day there and we don’t want to be late.” Lateness was considered a moral weakness.
We ate as much as we could hold.
By that point we’d been traveling for days, driving down the Eastern seaboard, zipping around southern Florida. Mom had been faithfully dosing me with motion sickness pills.
Unfortunately, we learned that one can build up resistance to Dramamine. “I don’t feel so good,” I said about half an hour into the trip.
“You’ll be fine,” Mom said from the front and began muttering prayers to St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, as well as St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes. Her prayers went unanswered.
I puked out the window.
Let’s just say that what ensued was the perfect storm of vomiting. Me, a bellyful of blueberry pancakes and sausages. The station wagon’s safety windows, which didn’t roll down all the way. My delighted and horrified siblings, scrambling to take cover in the way back, covering themselves with sleeping bags. Dad, of course, couldn’t stop, or we’d be late.
My mom climbed over the back so we could switch seats, and I could at least puke out a window that rolled all the way down. Being a master of safety, my loving father held the waistband of my shorts as I leaned out the window and gacked. Vomit flew into the back window, causing screams of disgusted laughter from my siblings and sympathy gagging from my mom. The car behind us had to turn on their windshield wipers.
My siblings counted with each purply expulsion.
Twenty-one times. Twenty-one.
But we did get to Disney on schedule.
I felt a little shaky, but hey! It was Disney! Onto the tram we clambered for a half-hour ride from our hotel to the rides.
As we stood in line for Space Mountain—because what motion-sick kid should miss out on that?—I fainted. Dehydrated, weak, depleted, yadda yadda. I don’t remember getting back to the hotel, but I woke up in bed, Mom reading next to me.
Some of my fellow board members will be taking some extra time to frisk and frolic with the Mouse and his friends. Me, I’ll be in my room, reading like my mama taught me.