Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Character Breakfast

This morning, a brilliant blue sky greeted our family, a welcome sight after severe storms shook the area the night before.  My husband Bob and I made our way to our town's quaint Main Street, where the annual wine and arts festival drew people from all over the area to browse among the dozens of exhibitors displaying their wares , while savoring vintage reds and whites courtesy of local, home grown vineyards.

Bob and I found a small cafe offering outdoor seating, and, after finding a cozy corner in the shade, made ourselves comfortable and sat watching the scores of people out enjoying the simple beauty of a perfect, sunny day.

A local radio station had come for the festivities, complete with their mascot, a "Bee", which was, in reality, a person dressed in a bee costume, a secret carefully kept hidden from the dozens of children who followed him (or her) down Main Street.

The scene conjured up images of our own child, now 14, and her long ago love of life-size animals. Melissa's first experience meeting a "character" came during her first visit to Disney World at the tender age of four.  Weeks in advance, Bob made breakfast reservation at a restaurant called Chef Mickey's, where the world's most famous "character" himself, along with his closest friends, personally greeted their star-struck fans of all ages.

Like a well oiled machine, the restaurant staff (called cast members) ushered in guests, invited each family to pose for a photo, and then escorted moms, dads, and wide-eyes kids into a line, where they waited anxiously for their chance to meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

When our turn came, we whipped out our camera and snapped photo after photo of our precious cherub receiving hugs from her heroes.  She stared at them in awe, unable to look away, much the same way I might react if Paul McCartney himself stood before me.

The next step in the well oiled machine involved following the cast member hostess to our table, where, she assured, we would be visited again by Mickey and gang.  However, Melissa did not want to follow the plan.  She continued to stare in awe, hoping for another hug.  Unfortunately for my baby girl, the "characters" had moved on to hugging other children, and now professed to ignore my baby, who continued to stare at them in wonder.

Finally, we pulled our star struck daughter away from the "celebrities" and dragged her to the table.

Thus began Melissa's devotion to Donald, Mickey, and all other forms of "characters", whether they represented restaurants (Can you say Chuck E Cheese - the world's most aggravating place to attend a birthday party), baseball teams, or simply appeared as a guest at a local street fair.  In fact, Bob once spent the entire nine innings of a minor league baseball game carrying Melissa around the stadium while chasing down "Sparky" the team's canine character mascot, all so his daughter could get a hug.

Melissa's fascination with "characters" began to wane slightly with each passing year, until finally, one day, when we spotted a "character" at a local restaurant and I encouraged her to go over and say hi, she replied, "Mom, it's just some guy dressed up in a costume."

Wait.  What?

Take knife and insert into heart.

The magical world where "characters" came to life no longer existed in the eyes of my child, now old enough to know better.


As the preteen years evolved into the full onslaught of teen-world, Melissa continued to distance herself from "characters", even when her goober parents insisted on posing for photos with "guys in costumes", an act deemed unbelievably uncool by her teenage standards!  However, last year, while planning another trip to Disney, Bob, once again, made reservations at Chef Mickey's.  Melissa tried to act nonchalant as we stood in line, had our mandatory photo taken, and followed the cast member to our table.  Finally, after we had piled our plates with pastries, pancakes, waffles, cereal, eggs, and fruit (calories don't count in Disney), music started to play and out came Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, making their way to each table, ready to make children's dreams come true.

I didn't say anything, but glanced over at my offspring.  Against her teenage will, her face lit up, and she proclaimed out loud, "MICKY!"

Then, when the world's most memorable mouse made his way to our table, he wrapped his arms around her in a loving embrace, while she giggled uncontrollably, abandoning all pretense.  We took turns posing with Mickey, then watched regretfully as he moved to the next table.  I still held my tongue, worried that if I dared to savor the moment, Melissa would insist it was no big deal.  But I knew it was, indeed, a very big deal.

She may be 14, and too cool for "characters", but I know, deep down, the magic lives on!
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  1. Awwwww, that last bit's an adorable moment in time! So glad you got to see your young lady reveal the kid within! Also; "...calories don't count in Disney..." The same holds true for birthdays and any major holidays you celebrate. Truth! ;-)
    Some Dark Romantic

    1. And calories also leak out when you break off a piece of something! LOL!

  2. So touching Lisa. I went to Disneyland for my Honeymoon and went bonkers for Mickey. Glad to hear I'm in good ccompany!

    1. Wendy, Disney is the perfect honeymoon spot, I hope you had fun!

  3. Lisa, You have a talent for making a story hysterically funny and yet tug-at-the-heartstrings poignant. I can so relate. My daughter, ditto. Two years ago, when she was 19, we went to Disney World and had the time of our lives. We did the character breakfast, and though she was 19, she still enjoyed having her photo taken with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale and Winnie the Pooh. It was so much fun, and for a moment I got to relive her childhood days. My favorite line? "Take knife and insert into heart." Too funny!

    1. Ho Monica, thank you so much, your comments always make my day

  4. That tugged at the heartstrings. All I can say is "Aaaaawwww!" She'll always be your little girl, whatever happens.

    That reminds me of how starstruck I was when my daughter and I went to Disneyland early this year. Even at this age, Mickey leaves me in awe. Yes, the magic does live on.