Sunday, September 7, 2014


I'm sure it's surprising to no one that I was a very odd child.  This isn't to say I didn't have a lovely childhood - I did - but inside my shy, blonde little head were some very bizarre thoughts that I only later found out weren't completely normal.

My imagination was apparently very active, since I have no other way to explain some of the things I thought.  One of the best examples started with a simple family vacation to Epcot Center in Florida, sometime around 1985.

Our family vacations were very Disney-centric when we were young, which was good since as advanced as I was I likely wouldn't have appreciated Monet or a more "cultural" experience.  We went to both Disneyand and Disney World, but my favorite of all was Epcot Center in Florida.  It was gaudily 80s-futuristic which you may not know brings me immense joy and thrills (when they changed Tomorrowland from 50s Tomorrowland to ACTUAL FUTURE Tomorrowland I was horrified and quickly voiced my displeasure - why would I want to see actual innovation when I could see the glorious world of what people thought life would be like right now in 1955??).  In addition to glorious 80s future, there's the "World Showcase" which is basically an area that has about 10 countries, complete with replicas of actual monuments and buildings as well as restaurants and glorious shops full of foreign trinkets. This was where my obsession with Asia began.

On this particular trip, between two countries was a large construction wall painted with caricatures of children in various ethnic garb from around the world, along with the words "Coming Soon: Norway."  Most people, especially children, would look at it, think "oh, a new country is coming, cool" and stop there.  Not me, my mind was already creating a fictional Norway that was entirely too elaborate for an adolescent, let alone a toddler.

Based ENTIRELY on the wall with the pictures of children and notification that that location would soon be home to a Norway-themed area, I deduced that Norway was a country of entirely children.  Children ran the government, children worked in restaurants and factories, children were police officers, children wore adult clothing and acted like adults.  Where did Norway get all of these parentless children?  Why they were orphans, of course!  All the orphans in the world were sent to Norway to create a child society that worked as well if not better than the adult ones, because DUH.  I was very interested in visiting Norway after that to see what my young counterparts were doing while I played with my Legos and fingerpainted.

But did these children grow up?  Of course, silly - when they were adults they left Norway to enter the adult world in some other country.  Their choice, of course.  They were constantly being replaced by an influx of world orphans, so there was no worries of the country "dying out" as it were.

For the next couple of years, Norway didn't come up much, being five and all, so I forgot about this new land my brain had created.  Then we went back to Epcot.  When we walked through the World Showcase, Norway was open. I was thrilled!  And it had a ride!

Off we go to ride "Maelstrom," arguably the best ride at Epcot pre-2000, and I was in for a HUGE shock.  We walk through the doors and on one side is a store with Norwegian clothing and lots of things to use in snowy climates, and on the other was the line for Maelstrom.  As we walk through the turnstile to get in line, I notice the mural on the wall - various ships and trees and artifacts were depicted, but also people.  Grown men.  WITH BEARDS.  This was a completely inaccurate mural of what Norway was actually like. 

"Mommy!  Why are there men on the wall?  There's only supposed to be children!!"  My mom was rightfully shocked and likely concerned for my mental health as I told her the long, drawn-out history of Norway, as imagined by 5-year-old me.

I didn't get a straight answer out of her, probably because she was so completely baffled at my question, that we got on the ride before I could say anything else.  In our awesome Viking boat we floated down a river, passing MORE GROWN MEN WITH BEARDS (animatronic, but still) doing various things that should have been done by the children!  I didn't understand what was going on.  I was honestly convinced that Disney had made a huge mistake and just didn't do their research when creating the Norway exhibit.  Once we got off the ride, I brought it up again.

I don't really remember how it was finally laid out to me, but needless to say that was one of the first (if not the actual first) times that my parents probably started worrying about the sanity of their oldest child.  I was finally convinced that Norway was just another normal country, with the same ratio of kids and adults, doing normal things like being cold and dressing like Vikings.  The sad realization that there was no "child utopia" that I could visit as though it were my homeland was harsh, but I survived.

That was only the first of many weird ideas about the world that were eventually shot down by reality.  I'm still conjuring up new ones.

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