The book is hilarious (“Kim Korson must be stopped. My wife thinks she’s funnier than me,” Jon Stewart is quoted as saying on the cover), irreverent and an irresistibly fun read. In the excerpt below, Kim and her pageantry-loving husband Buzz plan a family vacation to Disney—unsurprisingly, Kim’s not entirely on board.
© Gallery Books
Like many of us casualties of lackadaisical parenting, Buzz has great plans to do things differently. Traditions and celebrations were not big players in Buzz’s young life and so they feature heavily in his adult one. Taco Tuesday! Family Hike! Let’s Make a (Dessert) Deal! Our life together is a series of Bar Mitzvah parties, complete with omelet bar and fajita stations. You can’t get in his way, though, and you’d be a pill to try.
Buzz suffers from a bad case of emotional pica, an insatiable craving to fill himself up with the sand and dirt of childhood he missed out on. It’s draining but (on my compassionate days) I understand it. I roll my eyes while rolling out pizza dough or ordering the piñata because I know what it feels like to be slightly defective. And so when Buzz said to me, “Kim, we’re going to Disney World,” I wanted to politely decline and say there was no way in hell I was making that trip, but I smiled and nodded then took to the bed, and secretly thought: good grief.
Mention the word Disney out in public and you’ll get two different reactions. One person hearing it will develop little Mickey Mouse silhouettes in place of their pupils, Saturday morning cartoon-style, complete with sprays of hearts and fireworks shooting from their scalp and ears. The other will tirade, letting you know their daughter does indeed not need a prince to live happily ever after, thank you very much. If you go further and mention Disney World, you will witness a conniption or be forced to relive someone’s memory of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or how they almost barfed on Dumbo.
It seems like everyone has a Disney chronicle to recount. Even Buzz. I learned that his blended family made the trip via Chevy Impala wagon. Not enough seats in the car forced Buzz to be stuffed, alongside his stepbrother and all the luggage, into the trunk section of the wagon. Buzz’s strongest memory was begging his stepfather to hit the Wet ‘N Wild Water Park, the one you encounter a mile before the entrance to Disney World itself. His request was denied. The only other thing Buzz recalled was hearing his stepfather mutter to his wife on the long drive home, “Well, we are never doing THAT again.”
My own revisionist Disney history lives in Tomorrowland when no one in my family could handle a ride speedier than the Hall of Presidents. And while I begged for any of them to ride Space Mountain with my nine-year-old self, I was met with three absolutely nots. My father held onto his Gucci belt and suggested I ride by myself because he’d probably barf. My brother told me to forget it, too fast and scary and also the barfing. My mother, sensing my indecision, insisted I make up my mind already because she thought she heard thunder and also she wasn’t feeling well. An imaginary chalk line was drawn at that very moment, separating me from them. They had become a band of lame superheroes—The Non-Avengers. Together they fought nothing, setting out to actively not save the world because they were worried, nauseous, and chicken. I studied their side of the line and thought: Fine, maybe I will ride alone. Maybe someone will steal me. Maybe I’ll fall out and die and then they’d see. Which is precisely what I did (ride alone, not get stolen or dead). I recall nothing else.
A trip to Disney World, like parenting, is a giant do-over. Some return to the park with their young families to relive the magic. Others go back to patch up well-worn holes. Buzz and I handle our childhood fix-it kits with different techniques. He plans fiestas and Best-Day-Evers and I make sure no one rides alone. But even with all the wrongs I wanted to make right, I still had no interest in taking the trip. I pulled a signature move of mine. I tried getting out of it.
“You know, I was thinking. Disney is kind of expensive,” I said one night while loading the dishwasher. This defense usually gives Buzz pause.
“Well, you only live once,” he said. “They’ll remember this forever.”
“Isn’t it hurricane season?”
“There won’t be a hurricane,” Buzz said. He was on the couch, deep into researching the best memory-making pool in the greater Orlando area. “Do you care if we don’t stay on campus?”
Campus. Already using the argot. I was in trouble.
Copyright © 2015 by Kim Korson. From the book I DON’T HAVE A HAPPY PLACE: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom published by Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.