Minnie Mouse is the spokesperson of domestic goddesses everywhere. Minnie Mouse keeps her house cute all the time. Minnie Mouse’s relationship with Mickey inspired my dreams of love. Minnie Mouse’s polka-dot dress summed up all that I hoped the future held for me.
When I was six, and my parents told me that we were going to Disneyland, I felt sure that this was my moment to blossom. Growing up I was hopelessly odd: I preferred to be called “Chest”; a turkey that police named “Rambo” attacked me; I permed my bowl cut. Disneyland was my chance to meet my idol, who I knew would make me feel cool.
I envisioned the future, in which I would tell the kids at school about my trip, and the stories of my adventure would take me from "Claire Meyer? Isn't that the girl that collects human teeth?" to "Claire Meyer? Oh, yeah, she’s that cool girl who went to Disneyland.”
I brought my autograph book. I met Goofy, Chip & Dale and two different versions of Mickey. Briefly, I became addicted to meeting these characters. How lucky that we all lived in the same place and they so casually walked around to greet me! I couldn’t imagine life any different. After riding Peter Pan’s Flight three times, though, I’d still yet to meet my main girl Minnie.
Soon, that would change.
In retrospect, Disneyland was the last time I believed I had a shot at a perfect life. If only I’d known then how many meals I would eat in bed, or the number of times I would yell “I’m walking away now, not because I’m dramatic, but because I have nothing left to say to you,” or the percentage of those times that would occur on first dates. Or, that after a final fight in a toxic relationship I would take nothing from his apartment but two steaks out of the freezer and a Bruce Springsteen album—all I needed for a fresh start.
At the Disneyland point in my youth, I still saw Minnie’s squeaky perfection as a real possibility, and the Mme. Mouse herself as just the person to tell me how to achieve it.
On the last day of my Disney trip, I finally saw her. My hero. My friend.
Between the churro stand and bushes shaped like Disney characters, Minnie appeared before my eyes. My world filled with magic. I broke away from my parents and started running toward her. If my hair had been longer than my bowl cut, it would have blown in the wind. Instead, my hair just sat right on top of my head, like always, and Minnie didn't seem to care. My new best friend threw her hands up in the air to hug me. While still running, I stretched out my arms to mimic her greeting.
Then it happened.
With those beautiful white gloves Minnie clutched at her neck. I halted. Vomit started to trickle out of a slit I’d never noticed before. My role model took off her head. Minnie projectile vomited.
Men came out from what seemed like nowhere but has since become clear to me as those weird underground Disney tunnels. One of the men promptly took Minnie away from me. The other man picked up the head with her smiling face and eyes pointed right at me. He lingered for a moment.
"Minnie's not feeling that well right now," he said.
My parents caught up to me and tried to explain everything. It was too late. All this happened in about five seconds. Magic didn't necessarily die for me that day, but it did get violently ill and then decapitate itself.
What did die that day was the foundation of my domestic-goddess self-imagination. If Minnie could take off her head and vomit, then what would stop me from eventually going on a date with a man that preferred to be called “$bill”?
It’s been twenty years since Disneyland. Now, I’m engaged to a wonderfully weird man, and my house is never clean, and I still would be over the moon if the nickname Chest finally caught on for me.
I told my fiancé this story on our first date. He reciprocated with his own stories of childhood trauma, and we laughed, and it was awkward magic.
I can only hope that Vomit Minnie and her Mickey equivalent have been able to do the same.
Claire Meyer is one-half of the @WeFoughtAbout Twitter. The Awkward Phase Tumblr, which she co-runs, would love it if you sent in a photo/story celebrating your most awkward years. You can submit here.