Once upon a time in sunny southern Orlando (1994), the Nod Family made their second pilgrimage to Disneyland. Unaware at that point of the growing dragon within me, I still drank and smoked.
One of my enduring joys was to savor the early morning and enjoy coffee and newspaper then perform my ablutions. Sometimes, not having finished the paper, it was not uncommon to take it to the library. In those unholy days, we still smoked virtually everywhere. “Politically correct” was not in Miriam Webster yet.
One morning several days into our vacation, I had occasion to visit Disney’s finest restrooms prior to launching into the Paris theme. We were all gathered outside said rooms and preparing for the onslaught. I opted to use the facilities one last time and Cupcake happened to point to the sign that said “No smoking in restrooms”. Note that it didn’t say “strictly enforced” nor did it mention anything about it being a major infraction comparable to burglary or Grand Theft Auto. Nowhere in there was a discussion of just what the meaning of “no” really is. I say it’s rather ambiguous. I told Cupcake jeeringly ” Oh, yeah.What’s going to happen? I suppose the cigarette police are going to arrest me?”
I proceeded to settle in and lit up. I was rather engrossed in reading when the smoke alarms started going off. I quickly doused my cigarette and prepared to retreat. As I exited the stall, several of Disney’s finest approached and asked if they could have a word with me outside. The alarms were absolutely earsplitting and made conversation all but impossible. I exited with one on each side and we had a discussion outside about how I had inadvertently missed the sign. I pointed out that I was reading the newspaper when I walked in. We moved back to better view the sign and clarify the meaning. About that time I noticed the flashing red light on the roof of the structure. As with all buildings at Disneyland, the loo was built to look like a French bakery or the entrance to the stables. I’m virtually positive that the light blended in beautifully with the architecture-when it wasn’t ablaze.
After profuse apologies and promises to be more aware of my surroundings, a careful check of my ID, and confirmation that I was a legitimate paying visitor, I was allowed to rejoin Cupcake and the children. They were in quite a lather. Actually lather doesn’t adequately describe what was going on. Perhaps ROFLOAO (plural?). They had front row seats on the park bench directly across from the entrance/exit and watched the whole Keystone Kops Komedy unfold. For the rest of the vacation- indeed often in the months and years afterward, Cupcake would look at me with a quizzical pursing of the lips and whisper “cigarette police?” followed by gales of laughter. Worse, my children did it too. In fact, they did it in front of their friends who also seemed to know who the Disney cigarette police were. It is only now, with the passage of almost 20 years, that it is a rare occasion when this comes up in polite conversation-if ever.
After several years of counseling, I was able to hold my head up and meet others’ eyes. Men hate to admit they’re wrong. What’s more, many often don’t believe the rules were written for them specifically. I belonged to the latter class.
Yesterday, Cupcake and I went to see the liverbox gurus to beg for my life. I refer to the Sofosbuvir Phase II testing protocols. While searching for a place to park, I found a really nice spot and prepared to scoot in. Cupcake pointed to the sign that said “Big Bozo No-No” and I prepared to elaborate on why that fortunately didn’t apply in our case. Suddenly, the pursed lips appeared out of nowhere followed close behind by uncontrollable mirth. Yes, the dreaded cigarette police had been invoked. I promptly put the car back in gear and moved. I saw no reason to follow Custer to the top of the ridge and die on that hill.