Tahlequah Daily Press

November 5, 2012

Unruly kids, bad-acting adults can spoil a good time

Managing Editor

— I know all about the “love thy neighbor” business, and that annoying injunction to “turn the other cheek.” I usually manage to comply, which is fortunate for the many in this community who have threatened me with violence over the years, should their names appear in the paper in a negative context.

Normally, I don’t hold grudges. Unless you cut in front of me in line, or won’t make your bratty kid behave. Then, all bets are off.

It doesn’t matter whether the line is at a fast-food counter, a camp-out for concert tickets, or a queue for a roller coaster ride. In any scenario, the line-bucker has committed the penultimate offense – surpassed only in severity by the parent who is visibly proud of the horrendous behavior of an unruly child.

My husband and I enjoy amusement parks, and we visit a couple a year. This means we must suffer the indignity of people who are, as my husband has begun referring to them, “bad acters” (as opposed to “bad actors,” like, say, Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart). I prefer the word “miscreant” to describe those who act bad (as opposed to those who act badly) but either label is appropriate. For our 25th anniversary in September, we went to Walt Disney World, where the abundance of boors stewing in the kook-pot of Florida sparked our creativity. Instead of cobbling together ho-hum photos of us standing lines for attractions and displaying delectable plates of cuisine, we decided to document, via digital camera, the series of “bad acters” we had the misfortune to encounter.

Our second night there, while dining at one of our favorite restaurants, our experience was tainted by a 5-year-old hellion wreaking havoc in our quadrant of the room. We watched incredulously as the kid dashed among the tables, slamming his hand into the backs of the chairs of other diners. Some people flinched uncontrollably, spilled their drinks or uttered expletives, as they fell prey to the assault. The brain-dead parents – and presumably the equally clueless grandparents – alternated between ignoring the mini-monster and grinning proudly at his antics. I began willing the brat to buzz our table, where my foot – poised in trip mode – was apt to send him sailing. Eventually, he leaped onto the lap of his mother – who looked like Britney Spears, and had the intellect to match – and kicked her in the head. His grandparents clapped in delight at his skillful maneuver.

Another diminutive demon emerged from the bowels of Hades while we were dining at The Brown Derby. This one lobbed his crayons at nearby tables as mom preened and glowed at his display of talent. Finally he got bored, and erupted into screams, halted only when his mother brandished a box of juice and handed it to him. Meanwhile, a she-devil at the next table picked up the pitchfork and ran with it, squirming to the floor and scooting around like a wormy dog. A man at the next table had the gall to scowl disapprovingly, whereupon a woman in the little girl’s entourage blurted, “She has just as much right to be here as YEW!”

But if the kids were bad, the adults were worse – cutting in line, pushing and shoving, yelling obscenities at others who weren’t paying attention and didn’t move quickly enough when a queue advanced. I don’t remember its being this bad in the past, so I’m wondering if the intolerance  had anything to do with the approaching “end” of the Mayan calendar.

There’s a cool thrill ride at Hollywood Studios called Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the way people were acting, you’d think Steven Tyler himself was loitering around and offering to service anyone who cared to step into a public restroom with him. Nearly every time we rode it, all heck broke loose – grunting, shoving and squealing, like a herd of hogs charging a trough of truffles. First, a chicktwice my own considerable weight stomped on my foot in her haste to be first out of the chute. Later, I blood blister came up, and I lost the toenail. Later, another gal elbowed an older gent in the face and split his lip. The aggressor had a small girl in tow, and I watched as she barreled into another little boy, mowing him down and dragging her own kid over his quivering carcass. The dad of the trampled tike picked him up and yelled, “HEY!” at the offending woman, who flipped him the finger.

At a water park, a soccer mom type announced, “I’m tired of waiting!” and then manhandled at least a dozen of us as she forced her way to a food counter to get her hot dog and fries. Karma quickly came around: She had stepped into a puddle of puke left moments earlier by a boy about 7 years of age, and about 25 times that many pounds. It splattered on her bare legs, but she didn’t notice. After she and her family retired to a picnic table, we kept hearing her say, “Do you smell something?”

Then there were the oafs who kept taking flash photos in the attractions, despite admonitions from cast members to refrain from it. One moll in Minnie Mouse ears held her “tablet” aloft 30 or 40 times in one attraction until everyone was seeing spots. On another attraction, a family of hillbillies was asked to “wait behind the line,” and one of the men quipped from behind his two teeth: “You cain’t tell me whut to DO! I got freedoms! This is ‘Merca!”

I tried to play it low-key, merely bad-mouthing the bad-acters under my breath. I was calmer than during a trip to Disneyland several years ago, when a foreign man shoved past me to get on a tram and sat on my lap. I gave him an unceremonious shove, which caused his two young daughters to yell, in truncated English: “You rude! You rude lady!” Whatever. They’re just lucky they weren’t in an open-carry state.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.