This past Friday evening, we piled into the car for a trip to Disneyland in the rain.
The Park was not crowded, and the wind and rain blew as if Hina and Tongaroa-Ru were Annual Pass holders.
Of course, the "Bubble" (as Cast Members know) was in full effect at times, too, as the rain let up for most of the evening. The "Bubble" is a reference to the Park's unique ability to remain a lone dry spot in Southern California, even when the entire region is in the midst of a storm. The term arose because some guests actually wondered aloud if it was true that Disneyland has a glass dome or bubble that is turned on to keep out the elements. To Cast Members hoping to avoid a closing shift due to inclement weather, the "Bubble" was a term of frustration. You would call in to see if you were still scheduled only to be told---Yes. Really? It's pouring where I live and hasn't let up all day! Um. Not at the Park. There's a break in the clouds above us and we can see sky. See you at 5:00 p.m., don't be late for your shift.
Okay. Where was I?
Oh yeah. Rain, Disneyland, Cold.
My youngest and I spent some rare time inside "Innoventions." The attraction is pretty much only good for keeping you dry in a rainstorm. Being 7, she actually enjoyed walking around and looking at the "house of the future." You mean someday people will have flat panel big screen TVs in their homes? No way!
While we wandered in "The Future," my dear wife and older daughter braved the elements and even made their way onto Casey Junior. A cell phone call advised me to meet them at Tiki Room and that they were cold and wanted hot chocolate---Stat!
We met at the Tiki lanai, took in the show and headed to New Orleans Square after we left the theater.
Mint Julep Bar.
They have hot cocoa, beignets and funnel cakes.
We rounded the corner and found a small line of guests at the service counter.
When it was my turn, I approached and placed our order. The cast member working there was Susy. She was on until 11:45 p.m., I learned by pestering her. She was very nice and a testament to what a cast member can and should be. I teased her, as I am wont to do, and she smilingly went along with it.
"Name?" she asked as she took my order.
"We already have a 'Mike' ahead of you."
"I'm the better 'Mike,'" I said, "Put that down."
She looked up and laughed. And started writing.
"Hey!" said the "other" 'Mike' standing to our left and waiting for his order. "I'm the BEST 'Mike!'"
My wife, all too familiar with her husband goofing around with guests and cast members for no apparent reason, cringed slightly and rolled her eyes.
"He better give you a five dollar tip!" announced the "other" Mike as I stood at the counter before Susy.
I smiled and walked over to "Mike."
"Hi, I'm Mike Kelly," I said shaking his hand firmly and smiling that mischievous smile that comes from years in the Jungle.
"Mike Valero, pleased to meet you."
"Where are you from? Cold and wet enough for you?"
"Connecticut. This is a dream compared to the weather back home. I was in Hawaii on business and we stopped here on the way back home."
Mike introduced us to his wife and we told them we envied their recent trip to Hawaii.
In the end, we both agreed we were pretty darn good "Mikes" and would consider it a draw. They left, sipping their hot coffees and heading off toward the Rivers of America.
"'Better Mike,' your order is ready!" announced Susy's fellow cast member from behind the "Pick Up" window.
"Why, thank you, my dear," I said taking our cups of warm libations and poking my head low to call into the Julep Bar window. "Good work, Susy!! As you can see, I eliminated all confusion at the pick up window by drawing the distinction of being the "Better Mike." Susy flashed a Disney smile and wished us a fond "Good Evening!" as we left with our order.
I should have snapped her picture with the cell phone camera, but I'll have to immortalize her here with this brief---ok, not-so-brief---mention.
She brightened our cold, damp evening with a cheerful smile, a good attitude, hot coffee and cocoa and funnel cake, too.
In our best nod to the classic TV show Hee-Haw, Jungle is "101" salutes Susy, French Market Mint Julep Bar closing shift cast member from Friday, February 18, 2011.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled daily activities.
Oh, and if you should see Susy at the French Market during your next trip to Disneyland---tell her the "Better Mike" says hello!
The Shirt Lives!!