Being the thrill seekers that we are, Sharron and I were standing in line for "Pinocchio's Daring Journey." We were at Disneyland, of course, because Sea World doesn't have that ride.
As the line wrapped around a corner, I shared an observation. "I don't think they should call it a 'daring' journey," I said. "The reason that Pinocchio ended up having his adventures was because he didn't listen to his conscience; he didn't listen to Jiminy Cricket. So, basically, Pinocchio is the story of someone who did the wrong thing. In that case, they shouldn't call it a 'daring' journey, but rather a 'misled' journey. Maybe they should call it 'Pinocchio's Unethical Voyage.'
Overhead, the voice of Jiminy Cricket was telling us how we should behave on the ride — that we should keep our hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times.
"Pinocchio didn't listen to Jiminy Cricket," I said. "Why should we?"
I was definitely getting mixed messages from the Disney Corporation. Earlier, on "Snow White's Scary Adventures," the Wicked Witch had given the same instructions that Jiminy was now delivering. What kind of standard were they setting here? I would think that the Wicked Witch would be the one person we shouldn't listen to.
We were soon on the ride, learning about Pinocchio's bad life choices and how those choices caused him and his friends to wind up on Pleasure Island where, after behaving badly for a long period of time, they turned into donkeys.
Again, I was confused by the message. When Sharron and I went to the Walt Disney Resort in Florida, we had been encouraged to go to Pleasure Island, an area filled with bars, dance halls, and other places of iniquity where tourists were frequently robbed of their money via overpriced drinks. We loved it there, and after several hours of carousing, I definitely began to feel my butt itch. Was I growing a donkey tail? Sharron told me I wasn't, but I wasn't so sure.
Back on the Pinocchio ride, the rising form of Monstro the Whale lunged directly at Sharron and me from the depths of a cardboard ocean.
Pinocchio and Gepetto were trapped inside the whale and needed a way out. Wait a minute, I thought, this story sounds awfully familiar. Wasn't there a story in the Bible about a whale that swallowed a guy named Jonah and later disgorged him? Why, Pinocchio's adventure inside the whale was just plain plagiarism. That's right, it was a rip-off! (Author's note: plagiarism is not to be confused with a sensation that one gets at Pleasure Island.)
I felt like I was falling into an infernal abyss of corruption. All sense of morality was slipping away, and I began casting about for something to latch onto, something to save me from this moral quicksand.
The nose! I thought. Pinocchio's nose grew longer every time he lied. There had to be a positive message there! But then I pondered it further. The problem with Pinocchio's nose was that it told the truth. It only presented a problem for Pinocchio because it gave him away. In other words, the problem wasn't lying; the problem was getting caught.
I fell off the edge of righteousness and tumbled through Gepetto's workshop into the outside world, where Sharron and I got off the ride.
"So, did you learn anything from that?" I asked Sharron.
"Yes," she said. "I learned that you can do the wrong thing and get away with it."
"Good," I answered. "I'm glad this was productive. What ride do you want to go on next?"
"How about Peter Pan's Flight? Nah, never mind, that ride has the longest line in Fantasyland."
"That's okay," I said. "We can take cuts. After that, let's steal a few things from the Mad Hatter store and push some kids off the merry-go-round."
Fortunately, Sharron isn't corrupted as easily as I am. "I've got an idea. Let's go on Small World," she countered.
Her plan worked. By the time the ride was over, I couldn't think of anything but the Small World song, repeating over and over again in my head... Now that's evil.