House Bill 2, HB2, Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, or Bathroom Bill. You may have heard of it. You know, that little law that has dominated the news cycle, ousted a sitting governor (pending recount), and caused family arguments for our Yankee friends to the North. Don't panic; this is not a post debating the merits or shortcomings of the bill, rather just how it changed our family plans for the first week of December.
Clemson is a big part of our family. It is where Clay and I met. It is where we bought our first house together. It is where we both worked after college. It is where we spend fall Saturdays as a family. Before you think that I am the only one obsessed following Clemson football around, Clay makes me look like a novice fan. I am convinced that if we renewed our vows, her wedding party would be Mickey Plyler, William Qualkinbush, Roy Philpot, and Walt Deptula, all radio personalities on the local sports talk station.
So, if Clemson is competing for the ACC Championship, the Gilberts are going. At the start of the season, this would have been an easy trip. Just head north for an hour and a half to the Queen City. This is where the bathroom bill comes into play. The ACC, protesting the bill, decided to move all ACC championships out of North Carolina. The new championship location, Orlando. I am not sure if you have heard of this city. It is in the country of Florida. It is home to a theme park that requires you to spend money at a rate faster than our country racks up national debt. For perspective, our country racks up debt to the tune of 4 billion dollars a day. Once the news hit that the location was moving, three people in my family were dancing to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," while I was lying on the couch in my banker's office crying and asking if I can borrow against my son's baseball card collection.
What does discussing Disney trips with your spouse have to do with getting the family out the door in time for church on Sunday mornings and bringing the Christmas tree into the house each year? All three events stress a marriage to the brink. It starts with innocent Disney talk, like "I can't wait until the kids are old enough to go to Disney." This is easy to combat and at first does not seem like a big deal, but then your children start walking and all the sudden you are being hit up about Disney from every angle. You do your best to avoid the topic, but then you start getting outside pressure from the Disney people. These people are not actually employed by Disney. They are your friends, you see them at swim meets, at parties, at soccer games, you know the ones...the ones that ask the killer of all questions... "So, have y'all done Disney yet?" Once the outside pressure begins, it is over. Disney talk takes over your life.
"Oh we have to go now so she can enjoy the Princess stage, Oh wait he was too young when he went, I want him to experience Disney while it is still "magical."
Don't for a second think that once you answer "yes" to the Disney question you are in the clear from the Disney people. Next, it will be, "Have y'all done a Disney cruise?" Thankfully, my wife and I don't care about traveling the high seas with Mickey and norovirus, so I am safe on that question. Please don't remark in the comment section that the Disney cruise is so much different than normal cruises and we will love it. We are not cruisers.
For those out there struggling through these very Disney questions, just refinance your home and go. As much as I thought the whole thing was going to be the most painful experience of my life, it was actually a great time and there is something special about wondering if the Cinderella posing for a picture with your daughter just did drugs in one of the underground tunnels all the characters travel in at Magic Kingdom.
If there is one thing that rivals my wife's love for Clemson, it is her love to plan a Disney trip. When I say plan, I am not talking about making a couple silly family shirts with ears on them, I am talking about reviewing humidity levels, engineering schematics of the park, and following real time crowd levels. "Brandt, did you know that when we went to Magic Kingdom two years ago the crowd level was an 8. This time it is only 5." This was an actual conversation we had. Giving my wife a crowd level of 5 is like Brent Venables game planning to play defense against a high school team.
Within a couple days of Clemson winning the Atlantic Division, I had my first tentative park plan. This plan is a ride by ride layout, based on wait times, day of the week, and I think the current moon phase is factored in somewhere. Thankfully the plan was designed at a "relaxed" setting. This is real people. The plan starts us off in Tomorrowland, home to the best ride at Disney. For you Disney vets, you are probably thinking Space Mountain...Nope...Buzz Lightyear...Nope...Tomorrowland Speedway...Nope...I am talking about the most underrated ride at Disney...the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
The first time we went to Disney, we were navigating the park like Muhammed Ali used to navigate the boxing ring, constantly on the move, stroller wheels leaving tire tracks as we sped around the park. Just when I thought I could not wait in another line, or get in another teacup, or listen to another creepy figurine scream "It's a small world" at me, there it was...the PeopleMover. Disney describes it as an emission-free mass transit system of the future. I describe it as the perfect ride to return your heart rate to safe levels, allow the throbbing in your legs to subside, and reverse the double vision from the teacups. The line was short, and the ride moves at a brisk pace, but not too fast. It is 10 minutes of Disney bliss.
Our day at Disney ends with the Swiss Family Treehouse and the Jungle Cruise. Nothing like trying to navigate a suspension bridge after 10 hours at Magic Kingdom, but I will not complain, because if the plan says we need to climb a fake tree, then climb that tree we will.
The plan is set (with of course the ability to alter as we monitor real-time crowd levels on the Disney phone app), the bags are packed, and the car is full of gas. Disney may be the birthplace of people-watching and unintentional comedy, it is also a place where the magic in the eyes of your children can warm the hearts of even the toughest Disney naysayers. At the end of the day, I guess we are Disney people too.
The bathroom was the reason we are going to Orlando in the first place, so it is fitting that I am sure it will be the first place we stop...in Clinton, SC.
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