My mother wanted to feed me to alligators. At Disney World. At the happiest place on Earth. When I was six.
I’ve only been to Disney World once. I only have one memory of it; my mother wanted to feed me to alligators.
And there we were, my parents and I, gallivanting about Disney World. Everything just perfect. And there I was, the cutest little kid, my brown ringlets bobbing up and down as I hugged oversized Disney characters.
-Expensive souvenirs that will be lost or destroyed: Check.
-Book filled with real people signing names of characters to dilute a child’s sense of reality: Double check.
Our stomachs roared like two-dimensional lions on a giant rock protruding from a mountain. My mother decided on our hotel’s restaurant, but little did I know what horrible things would happen there.
My parents wanted to eat outside, where a steady breeze cooled the night air. It’d been a long day of doing stuff I can’t remember. I’m sure we went on the teacups and saw Cinderella’s castle. I’m sure I latched onto Disney characters, refusing to let go until they signed my autograph book, though if Aladdin tried to hug me now, I’d kick him in the balls. Hard. We sat at the far end, dining 15 feet or so from lush shrubbery.
Our meal arrived, devoid of delectable kid fare, like heavily salted fries and cookies. I was displeased. Screw a medley of vegetables. I wanted a medley of deliciousness. I made it known.
My mother told me to eat my vegetables. Yeah, like that was happening.
I told her no.
“Julia,” she said in her listen-here-kid voice. “If you don’t eat your dinner, I’m going to feed you to the alligators.”
She pointed to the lush wetland shrubbery and I saw the alligator from “Lake Placid” leap out of the ferns and rip me to shreds. My life flashed before my eyes—me with Blankie, my favorite blanket, me hugging my stuffed animals, me in my Barbie car terrorizing the wildlife in my backyard, me building a snowman.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that her threat was probably empty. And at the time, I wasn’t a smart ass, so my arsenal of comebacks only contained “you’re a meanie head” and “you’re a butt face.”
Instead of explaining to my mother that feeding me to alligators at the happiest place on Earth was a bad idea and that it lacked all logical reasoning, I let my actions speak.
I shut my mouth and I ate my vegetables.