Slight irritation. Not much, but just enough to make you itch. The kind of itch that you can't find.
A slow driver going 2 miles per hour.
A pedestrian who crosses at the crosswalk agonizingly slow, almost to taunt you.
Someone filling out a Blockbuster registration card in a mile long line.
A family standing in a long line for a balloon animal. I feel sorry for them, and want to tell them that it's a silly venture. I feel like Holden Caulfield, who felt sorry for the people who waited all year to just attend a Radio City Music Hall show. "Have they nothing better to do?" he thought.
To the vacationers coming down this time of summer, everything is new. Family night, funnel cake and air socks hold some magical allure. "Oooh," they say, and smile, wondering why their salespeople are frowning. The beach sand is like brown sugar, and water is crystal blue, and every morning they wake up is the first day of the rest of their vacation.
But many of us who live here are like cranky old men who have seen it all. We're sitting on our broken down lawn chairs outside the barbershop complaining about taxes, the price of a shave, and that damn new skateboard park going up. We're jaded, and cross, and even though we are enjoying our summer, and feel glad for the families still visiting, one phrase keeps going over and over in our minds:
I have always tried to be honest in my blog. And if I said that locals were still gaga and starry- eyed over visitors, I'd be lying. We want our streets back. We want our restaurants back. And we really really want our beaches and boardwalk back.
But schizophrenically, we don't want summer to end or school to start, not yet. There are so many beautiful days left, so many treasures to be had.
I've got the August Cranks.
I don't know how people who work at Disneyland do it. How they make very step, every breath, every experience for every person stepping into the parks a new and wonderful experience.
Do they really think people who wear Mickey Mouse ears are cute?
Does the arrival of the Disney parade down Main Street become an excuse for a cigarette break?
Does the Jungle Cruise fail to transport them into a virtual Amazon jungle, like it does us?
We went to Disneyland just last year, and in the ticket line, there was a man on stilts who was the most cheerful man I have ever met. It was a hundred degrees in the shade, and his job was to wave each person in line cheerfully along to the next available ticket teller. That's it. Just to smile, say hello, high five the children and wave.
I kept staring at him, looking for an aberration, a crack in the façade, any sign of irritation or annoyance. For a half an hour I watched him smile maniacally at each child, and even when there was no one to talk to, he bounced around on those stilts like it was his life's dream to smile and say,
"This way, please."
I began to feel sorry for him because no one, I thought, can be this cheerful. When we left to enter the park, I tried to tip him. No no, he said, as he brushed it off, it is my pleasure.
His pleasure? Really?
I admired that man, and still do. When I get cranky, I think of him. And when I tell people I have been teaching for twenty two years, and they marvel over the fact that I have been teaching the same thing to the same kind of kids for a quarter century, and that I must be bored, I say,
"No, no. It's my pleasure."