Kevin walked ahead of us along the path that bordered the canal. In the dark, none of us managed to catch a smile, just the hint of embarrassed laughter, which of course told us he was serious. We had just left Fantasmic, one of Disney World’s late-night shows, where Mickey Mouse battles the forces of evil equipped with geysers, fireworks and pyrotechnics. It’s a show designed for kids. Yet amid the visual distractions and explosions, viewers searching for fragments of story would be better tested finding a scrap of personality from Disney’s main mouse.
“I ask you,” Kev asked afterwards. “When’s the last time you laughed at a Mickey cartoon, huh? That’s right. Never. During the show, did anyone root for the ‘hero?'”
Our group conceded that Disney villains were far more interesting. As we passed the bus terminals, we shared our favorite Disney villain: Brigid favored Hercules’ Hades (“He’s really funny.”); Ryan recommended Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (“She always scared me the most when I was a kid.”); Shannon favored the girl from Finding Nemo (“I’m a piranha. *chomp chomp*”) ; and Kevin refused to answer (“It’s embarrassing. And anything I say you’re just going to put in your stupid blog.”).
Still reticence did not stop his diatribe against the Disney mascot.
“That’s right. Everyone loves the villains. There’s herds of better characters: Donald, Goofy, Uncle Scrooge, heck . . . even Cruella DeVil has more personality than the stupid mouse.”
“Don’t forget the Little Mermaid!” Bree giggled. That comment of course revealed my brother’s passion for mermaids and their . . . *ahem* seashells.
“It’s not like the only thing I notice about her.”
“Kev,” Bree began, “we all know you like redheads too. We all saw your face heat up when she appeared on that floating stage an hour ago.”
“Maybe if you didn’t poke me every time we see her,” Kevin shouted, his face burning like a cooked lobster. “It makes me angry. And you know I don’t like to get angry.”
NOTE: Kevin loves to get angry. Apart from building and disassembling engines, complaining about the world is one of his greatest passions. During a trip to football practice, he masterfully alternated between a complaint about Lexus owners (“Lexus’s say ‘ F.U. I’m rich.’ They’re owned by B-I-T-C-H-Y soccer-moms who talk on their cellphones all day long. Ford owners may have money but they’re hardworking and not total douches.”) and drivers who complain way too much (“That moron needs to lay off the horn. People who honk their horns like that are idiots who are overcompensating for something. So we cut them off. Big deal. Everyone needs to just calm the frick down and stop complaining about the little things.”).
“It just pisses me off that you’re teasing me about some stupid . . . somewhat beautiful cartoon character.”
“Dude,” I say trying to keep my giggling to a minimum. “It’s okay to like fictional characters. I have a tendency to fall in love with a new anime character each week. Two or three if I can’t help it.”
“Yeah, and you’re a perv. Don’t compare me to you, geek-boy.”
“Sure, Mr. Shells.”
“Look,” Kevin spit between closed teeth. “I’m just doing what any other boy my age would do. It’s hard not to be attracted to her seashells when they’re . . . . out there like that.”
Around this time, Shannon notices that during our walk a family of four had somehow closed in behind us. I motioned to Kevin to keep his voice to a whisper, which only caused him to growl and scream more (“Oh, and that’s another thing. I hate it when you tell me what to do. I’LL BE QUIET WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT!”). Thus, we shifted to path that weaved through the resort pool.
“Kev, you were shouting. If those kids weren’t asleep . . . You can’t shout about how you stare at Ariel’s seashells.”
“Okay, now you’re putting words in my mouth. I look. I don’t stare. L-O-O-K. And then because I’m a gentleman, I look away . . . a’course I look back ’cause I’m not a homo.”
Seconds later, our whole group collapses among the palms and fallen Spanish moss laughing. My younger brother storming away, muttering ‘You’d have to be gay not to look back,’ triggers another spasm of giggles. Through tear-soaked eyes, I watch the family of four turn around, eyes scowling and heads shaking. Another bout of laughter rises in my gut, and I double over again unable to apologize.