Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Goldbergs: DisneyWorld 1980-something

I have been watching and loving The Goldbergs on ABC. It is a sit-com based on the video tapes from a child of the 1980s. I love the writing and the nostalgia, the hair and the props from the era. What I don't like is that I didn't think of it first!

Like Adam Goldberg, I spent the 80s behind a camera, recording everything. I thought for sure I was destined for television. I understand how my path led me to the production of stage work and teaching computers because my second passion is in technology. Adam doesn't seem to have that same passion in his life. His was a focus on writing and directing.

I have so many plot lines that could be added to Adam's history of the 80s even if they happened to the Fodors instead of the Goldbergs.

The one that leapt to mind this morning was our family trip to Disneyworld. My father didn't like anything about Disneyworld: the heat, the crowds, the food, the cost. He begrudgingly took us kids because he felt it was something he was supposed to do as a father in the 80s. The only thing that kept him happy was the exceedingly large Konica camera that he brought with to shoot family photos. (Story for another time but this was the famous Konica for Chanukah that my grandfather gave him).

My father walked around Disneyworld with this enormous camera taking some great photos and hurting his neck to a degree that certainly contributed to a headache and to further ill feelings toward Disneyworld. He even bought himself a Mickey Mouse camera strap to try to ease his suffering at the hands of the 5 pound camera dangling from his neck.

I begged to go on Space Mountain. I was young and dumb and thought I liked roller coasters (all kids believe that they love roller coasters and only FEW actually do). My father said, "no," many times before he finally relented (like all fathers).

He had the incorrect notion that it was a similar ride to Spaceship Earth, the ride inside the giant globe at Epcot center. We had already ridden on that and thus my father's argument was that he didn't need to go through that ordeal again. Like Chicagoian Jeff Garlin who portrays the father on The Goldbergs, my father was overweight. He had a hard time with the confines of the seats at Disneyworld.

When he finally relented, it was only he and I who went on the ride, my mother and sister being smart enough to find something better to do for the time it took to get through the massive wait and quick journey of Space Mountain.

We stood in line for an amazing length of time, a truth that continued to irritate my father.

When we finally got to the ride my father was curious at the fact that there were sounds of screams coming from the darkness, He realized (just a little too late) that this was indeed a roller coaster. A roller coaster in pitch black darkness. He was not prepared mentally or physically for a roller coaster ride. Since Space Mountain does not stop in the same place it starts, my father was not able to leave his enormous camera with an attendant to be retrieved at the end of the ride. He was told to simply hold on to it tightly so that it would not fly off of his neck and go crashing in to the darkness.

What he and the attendant did not realize in this conversation was that my father was wearing glasses. A big no-no when riding a roller coaster of any kind but especially one in pitch blackness where one cannot judge which way to hold one's head to avoid catastrophe.

I took the seat in front of my father so I had no idea of the ordeal that he was about to go through until after the ride had ended and he told the story in comically raged detail.

As the ride began, my father clutched his precious camera in place, however on the very first drop of the journey his glasses fell slightly slower than the rest of his body and face. The glasses launched themselves off of his head and in to the air. Instinctively he reached up to where the glasses were and miraculously snatched them out of the air. This was amazingly lucky since they were his only pair of glasses and he would not have been able to see without them. Doubly lucky since this was the year we chose to drive to Florida from Chicago.

Victorious in the fact that he came down the drop with his glasses still in his possession my father found a joy that would last him only a second. Physics being what they are, my father quickly realized that he had taken his hands off of his precious camera with the long lens strapped around his neck to grope in the dark in the sky for his wayward glasses. As his hand reached the errant glasses the enormous lens came crashing down on my father's groin. Clutching the glasses in one hand and his family jewels in the other, my father finished the ride groaning and cursing.

When we exited the ride I felt the adrenaline that the ride promised. I was so happy to have had the opportunity to experience Space Mountain. I turned to my father and said, "See. Wasn't that great?"

His only reply was a continued grunt and scowl. He was still clutching his glasses in one hand and his testicles in the other. I still was unaware of the harrowing journey that he had experienced since I was in the seat in front of him and probably wouldn't have seen any of it in the pitch blackness anyway.

We found my mother and sister, my father told the story of the nightmare he had just been put through ending with the phrase, "I am never going on another ride with you!" He never did.