Ever drive a long way on vacation? I thought so. When I was around 8 or 9, my father drove us from Denver to Anaheim so that we could visit Disneyland. The trip there was fairly uneventful, but that's only because the stay and trip back were full of challenges.
Our first stop was Sea World. I got a stuffed walrus as a souvenir and named her Barbara. Barbara Walrus. The walrus spoke in that distinctive voice made famous by Barbara Walters. She also conducted on-the-spot interviews with whomever was keeping her company. On the day we went to Disneyland, she was interviewing Goofy, whom my 6-year-old brother had taken a liking to.
"So, Mr. Goofy, do you think you'll make it home OK?"
"So, David (my brother), do you think it will rain today?"
"Mr. Dad, would you like to get your children ice cream?"
And so on. And so on. And so on. By the time we were ready to leave California, unbeknownst to me, there was a secret plot out to remove Barbara from my care. That night, in the hotel, someone was up to no good. My brother and I were sleeping in our bed, and all of a sudden he woke up screaming and crying.
"Goo- <sniffles, deep breath> Goo- Goofy's gone!" my little brother wailed. The more he cried the louder and more hysterical he got. My father promised to get him a new one in the morning, to no avail. The more my parents pleaded, the more unnerved my brother became. It was 10 PM local time. The next thing I knew, my father was getting his clothes on and left the room to return to Disneyland to buy my sobbing brother another stuffed Goofy toy. He was gone for what seemed like hours, and when he returned it might as well have been hours because he was PISSED.
Apparently, my father had been required to stand in line, pay admission again to get into the park, only to walk over to the same stand we had visited hours before. At last he obtained Goofy and was able to drive back to the room. He managed a faint smile as he handed Goofy to my now ecstatic brother.
Not one to miss a chance, Barbara interrupted the reunion. "Can you tell us how you feel about going to buy a stuffed animal in the middle of the night at Disneyland?" For the first time ever, Barbara was silenced with a look. Then we all went to bed and headed back home the next day.
As we were driving across the Mojave Desert, Barbara received divine inspiration once agian. "Sir, how do you feel about driving two bratty children across the desert?" she inquired. This produced an unintelligible response. She tried again. "I apologize sir, but my microphone must be on the fritz. Are you happy to be in the desert with your family?"
This illicited a roll of the eyes, a scrub of the lips, and a pleading look at my mother. "Good day, madam! What's it like to have a grumpy husband?"
At that exact moment, our car made a death-rattling noise and the cool air we had been enjoying ceased to flow. The air conditioner was busted. In July. In the Mojave Desert. With Barbara Walrus.
This set of circumstances did not please my father at all. I heard him yell "Son of a bitch!" as he looked under the hood. "Sir, what are your plans to fix this car?" Barbara demanded to know. My mother quickly grabbed me and we went looking for desert animals. My brother remained behind to 'help' Dad with the car.
We drove the rest of the way home without air conditioning. It was fixed promptly when we arrived home. Barbara was asked to take a couple of days off so she could rest from the heat. My brother and Goofy played happily together. But she continued to give interviews for quite some time. In fact, sometimes she still does.