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Old 08-27-2013, 12:56 AM   #1
the real robp
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Cool Aimee & Rob - In Which Rob's Secret Anniversary Trip Is Found Out (updated 9/10)

So ten years ago I wrote a mildly popular series of trip report posts describing the adventures of Aimee and Rob, an idealistic young (by which I mean "early thirtyish") pair of internet friends. Aimee was an attractive southern redhead with a keen sense of humor and a love of all things Disney. Rob was a charming Canadian rogue with a love of southern accents and attractive redheads. In May of 2003 they made their first magical trip to Disney World together in search of fun times and romance (inasmuch as a trip to Disney World can actually be characterized as "romantic" and not "exhausting" or "sweaty"). Re-reading it now I laugh at the inordinate amount of time we seem to have spent fixing our hair, probably because it's a little ironic in light of the male pattern baldness that's started to manifest itself ten years later. In any event, you probably remember our adventures:

OK, you probably don't remember it. Heck, I barely remember writing it, and after 10 years most people who read it back then are probably dead from old age or from accidentally asphyxiating themselves holding their breaths waiting for me to finish my epic trip report opus. Too bad I never did -- but for anyone still waiting to see how it turned out, as best as I can recall "a good time was had by all and everyone lived happily ever after."

A lot of time has passed since 2003. I will now write a lengthy series of posts documenting all of our activities since those halcyon days of yore, as well as an in-depth analysis of all the geopolitical and cultural changes that have taken place throughout the world during that time in order to properly set the stage for an exciting new pre-trip report.

I kid, of course. In the interest of brevity, allow me to summarize:
  • After returning from our successful Disney World trip of May 2003, Aimee and I were married in October of that year. It's a Disney miracle!
  • We immediately moved to scenic Vancouver, Canada to study dirty hippies in their natural habitat and to spend all my hard-earned dollars on taxes.
  • In October of 2006, we made an even more successful trip to Disney World for its 35th anniversary celebration.
  • In 2009 we moved to Texas, having learned that we like neither hippies nor taxes.
  • In 2012 we neglected to make any better plans and made another successful October trip to our default destination of choice, i.e. Disney World.

So here we are in 2013, staring down the grim reality of a ten-year wedding anniversary in just 6 short weeks. "We should do something celebratory," I mused to myself one day not so long ago. But what? "I know!" I exclaimed. "LET'S GO TO DISNEY WORLD!!"

OK, I didn't really say that last part. The truth is, I don't actually love Disney World. (I know, I know... "BLASPHEMER!" I picture crazy internet Disney aficionados lighting their torches and looking for pitchfork deals on Amazon.) Just stick with me, it's a long trip but we'll get there eventually.

What I actually said was "I know... let's go to Europe! Italy's nice in October, without the crowds of dirty tourist people we both hate so very much. Also, I'll get lots of air miles out of it, enough to put me over the top for the coveted platinum status of free upgrades and checked bags and booze. Also it's all romantic and whatnot, making it totally anniversary-appropriate. Italy FTW!" So I immediately did a bunch of research and booked us a trip to Venice and Florence and Rome. Because after 10 years of marriage, I am the best husband ever.

OK, I may have exaggerated that last part. (I mean the bit about booking the Italy trip, not the part about being the best husband ever. I am.) I've had some success in surprise trip bookage in the past -- Paris worked out particularly well -- but one thing I've gleaned from various health screenings over the years is that unexpected surprises can literally kill someone of our advanced years or elevated cholesterol level. So I thought it would be best to run my ten-year Italian celebration plan past my beloved wife to get her rubber stamp of approval on the festivities, and to avoid tragically stopping her heart with an unexpected Visa bill.

Well it turns out the Italy thing didn't work out as planned, which I now completely understand after Aimee reminded me that neither of us actually speaks Italian and patiently explained that we could conceivably die trying to find our hotel or feed ourselves. She is wise, my wife -- as usual, I hadn't stopped to consider all the various angles and properly analyze all the risk. I certainly don't want us to die for want of a meal in a strange and potentially hostile land. But what alternatives could we possibly come up with on such short notice? And that's when it hit me... "LET'S GO TO DISNEY WORLD!!" I really am the best husband ever, I congratulated myself yet again.

OK, that didn't actually happen either. Mostly I sat around planless and glum for a little while, until Aimee suggested that maybe we should go to Hawaii instead. Hawaii's got lots of advantages, as she helpfully summarized for me in a meticulously-prepared PowerPoint presentation:
  • We liked it the last time we were there
  • If we go to the Big Island, there's very few people there and we won't be surrounded by the crowds we both hate
  • Luaus are pretty fun when you're drunk
  • We probably won't die from starvation or getting lost/killed due to language issues

This seemed like a pretty workable plan. I quickly calculated the air miles, and while it doesn't quite secure my coveted platinum status on American, it's still a pretty good chunk of miles. And who doesn't like Hawaii? So I prepared to book our trip for October, i.e. the month in which our magical milestone anniversary occurs, and that's when Aimee hit me with the most unexpected twist... "let's go in November."

November? NOVEMBER? "That's totally the wrong month," I said to myself despondently. "Why, that's not even our anniversary... it's practically Thanksgiving! Christmas, even!" But she was pretty set on it. The hopeless romantic in me died a tiny bit as I glumly booked our flights and hotel for more than a month after our big matrimonial milestone, leaving us to celebrate our anniversary sitting at home watching "The Walking Dead" or something equally unromantic. I knew in my heart that all the mai tais in the world wouldn't enable us to travel backwards through time so we could celebrate things on the right day, although I committed to drink enough to try. Nevertheless I printed out the confirmation, and thus with a simple click of a browser button we were committed. We were going to Hawaii in November, dammit, and it sucked to be us. (Because of the bad timing, obviously. Hawaii's still a pretty awesome vacation when you really stop to think about it.)

So anyhow, last weekend we're eating at an Indian buffet for lunch and talking about things we could do on our upcoming trip. As we tried to decide on some fun activities, we observed that planning most vacations involves an annoying amount of work unless you just want to lie uselessly on a beach like some kind of distressed whale that's come too close to shore. That's when Aimee hit me with the following eight words, which seared themselves like magical fire in my brain:

"WE SHOULD HAVE JUST GONE TO DISNEY WORLD."

I was speechless. I just stood there gaping, the random assortment of meats in subtly different shades of brown sauces on my plate temporarily forgotten. "But... we... Hawaii..." I mumbled confusedly. I may have also choked out something about "non-refundable." Eventually I recovered myself enough to recall that we went to Disney World just last year. "I could go to Disney World every year," she pointed out matter-of-factly. I was flabbergasted, but I finally managed to ask "if you wanted to go to Disney World, why'd you suggest Hawaii? Have you even considered that I'd get only 1,966 air miles flying to Orlando vs the 7,440 I'll get flying to Kona??"

That's when Aimee reminded me that she loves Disney World. LOVES. In spite of the crowds. In spite of all the walking and waiting. In spite of the hellish heat and humidity. In spite of the roving gangs of able-bodied scooter-riding families clogging up the parks. I asked her again why she didn't just suggest we go to Disney World before we booked the other thing. Her reply: "I know you don't love it."

Ouch. I felt the shame wash over me, like the dank stinky water of the Kali River Rapids coming over the edge of the raft to drench you in that special kind of Imagineered funk that stays with you all day. Where has it all gone wrong for me? Am I really that dead inside? Have I really lost that sense of childlike wonder you can only get from a Disney vacation bill?

Now don't get me wrong. If truth be told, I don't love it. On a good day I come close... the shared satisfaction Aimee and I both get from executing our patented commando-style touring plan and having way more magical fun than all the slow, confused, unorganized, mid-day nap-taking, children-bearing, scooter-driving unwashed masses is one of the purest joys I know. On that kind of day I come close (or so I imagine) to experiencing what Charlie Sheen must feel like every single day. It's winning. On the other hand, on a bad day the dingier, run-down attractions (I'm looking at you, Maelstrom) cause me to uncomfortably re-evaluate some of the cherished memories from my youth. So it's hard for me to adequately convey my mixed, but mostly warm, feelings for Disney. But I love my wife, as much as I did before we got old (technically only I got old while she remained in a permanent state of hot, youthful vigor), and she loves Disney World and all our magical Disney memories enough for both of us and most of you. And so, to conclude my lengthy preamble:

WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

We're going in October. And so it was that the circle of life was complete: we'll be celebrating our ten-year anniversary the way it all began back in 2003. The best part is Aimee doesn't even know yet, because I haven't spilled the magical Disney beans. I've already booked the flights and Disney motel (er, "moderate resort"), I've made arrangements for boarding the dogs, and I've started working on an updated 2013 strategy for our guerilla assault on the parks. I haven't figured out how to intercept any magical Disney mail yet, but I'm working on it. On top of it all I've managed to remember my login here at the DIS, so I can document the whole thing. Now I just need to take out a second mortgage on our home to pay for the park-hopper tickets and meet with my financial planner to overhaul my current retirement strategy. It should be awesome. If the surprise doesn't tragically kill her before we actually leave, this should be a most excellent magical adventure filled with romance and wonder. And Dole Whips, and all that other stuff.

Oh yeah -- still going to Hawaii in November, so it's a win-win proposition either way. And I am the best husband ever.

Stay tuned for more updates and details. This week I plan to fret worryingly over whether we're going to get selected for MagicBands!

TO BE CONTINUED

Last edited by the real robp; 09-10-2013 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #2
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Table of Contents

Last edited by the real robp; 09-10-2013 at 04:03 PM. Reason: updated table of contents
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #3
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This Is Impossible

So this morning I logged into My Disney Experience, as one does when facing the prospect of a magical Disney vacation. And there it was, right at the top of the page, quietly mocking me: 37 Days To Go.

Clearly the impulse-driven decision-making process that led to booking this last-minute surprise anniversary trip has crippled any possibility of meticulously planning out every last detail of our fun in advance. How could we possibly manage to organize all our Disney activities, with Aimee sidelined in blissful ignorance of our upcoming trip and me paralyzed by the nightmarish prospect of trying to marshal and regulate all our magical merriment in just 37 short days? To put it in perspective, there's only 888 hours before our trip, and technically I have to waste 270 of them at or commuting to work. Subtract another 222 hours for sleep and 18 more standing around waiting for the dogs to poop (I conservatively estimated a total of 29 minutes per day for this) and I'm left with a paltry 378 hours to plan our trip, assuming I never stop to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom. "There's no way," I thought. I mean, we're supposed to have already decided when, where and what we're going to eat 180 full days in advance, which means I should have been making the requisite calls sometime back in early April. I shook my head in despair, realizing that in spite of my best intentions we'd probably starve. "This is impossible."

Then I remembered the immortal words of the great svengali Walt Disney himself:


It's kind of fun to do the impossible.


And that's when I got to work.

Step one was to take stock of the current situation. When I first booked the trip last week, I made a couple of key executive decisions:
  • We'd stay at the Coronado Springs resort. We stayed here on last year's trip, and we've previously stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Port Orleans French Quarter. Coronado Springs is nothing special, but it's pleasant enough. It's a convention hotel, which in our experience means "less kids" -- a definite plus, because nothing ruins a romantic vacation dalliance more efficiently than the piercing wails of other people's children. Also there's some kind of fall promotion where you get 20% off a moderate room, saving us what I can only assume will add up to thousands and thousands of dollars.
  • Our trip would be uncharacteristically short. In the past we've typically gone to Disney for something ridiculous like 10 days, usually spending several of them just killing time watching movies at Downtown Disney, having exhausted all the magical possibilities long before the end of our trip. I know, the mind boggles at the very idea. But we have no children to slow us down and we're ruthlessly efficient about maximizing our fun -- last year we spent some days hitting all 4 parks and all the major attractions in a single day, just because we're that good. So this year will be short, because we've got a longer Hawaii trip coming up in November and I want to preserve some vacation days for the holidays and whatnot.

Our trip is scheduled for October 3-8, which makes use of a strategically-placed weekend to minimize the expenditure of precious, precious vacation days. Going over the weekend is obviously not ideal crowd-wise, but the trusty crowd calendars published online have gazed deep into the future and predicted that crowds will be mercifully small at that time of year. (I studiously avoided the more anniversary-appropriate following weekend because of the predicted surge of crazies who apparently celebrate Columbus Day by visiting the magical world of Disney.)

When I say October 3-8, however, I mean we're flying to Orlando on the evening of the 3rd (Thursday), and flying home the evening of the 8th (Tuesday). That leaves only 4 full days from Friday through Monday, and a truncated day on Tuesday that probably ends by 2 or 3 o'clock. This is definitely going to put our commando touring skills to the test because on our last trip we finally got around to visiting Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, and Aimee's love of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the latter may actually transcend her love for all things Disney. So we've got 6 parks to navigate in what I optimistically estimate to be 4.5 days. This is definitely not a mission for the faint-hearted, or for the weak of spirit or flesh.

NEXT: I consult the psychic Oracle to divine crowd dynamics over the course of our stay, and start working out our commando plan to defeat them.

TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:16 AM   #4
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On Sociopathic Strategies, Sudoku, and Sweat

I started by immediately ordering 5-day Park Hopper passes in order to maximize our options. Chances are that at least one of those days will go unused, but I like to play it safe and keep things flexible. Besides, it's only money -- and I figure if you're pinching your precious pennies when planning a trip to Disney World I'm pretty sure you're missing Walt's whole point.

The all-seeing, all-knowing crowd calendar initially suggests the following plan of attack:
  • Fri 10/4: Magic Kingdom (alt: Animal Kingdom)
  • Sat 10/5: Hollywood Studios (alt: none)
  • Sun 10/6: Magic Kingdom (alt: Animal Kingdom)
  • Mon 10/7: Epcot (alt: Hollywood Studios)
  • Tue 10/8: Hollywood Studios (alt: Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom)

This strategy is designed to avoid the giant crowds of weak-willed resort guests who get duped by the prospect of Extra Magic Hours, by actively avoiding any EMH parks (and their teeming masses of people) -- a strategy which has worked exceedingly well for us in the past. It also cleverly factors in people's innate biases: for example, it predicts most people will avoid the Magic Kingdom on Friday and Sunday since they'll feel like they're missing out by having to leave the park early due to the scheduling of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on those nights. Of course we plan our commando park strike using the opposite logic: the more likely people are to avoid a particular park, the more likely it is that we'll target it. Because for us, the Happiest Place on Earth is marginally happier when there's nobody around to interfere with or slow down our magical fun. Using the same sociopathic (but highly effective) logic we expect most people to avoid Hollywood Studios on Saturday because of the Tower of Terror 10-Miler Run that day. Silly people -- the race doesn't even start until 10pm, long after the park has closed! But fear and ignorance should make Hollywood Studios lightly attended that day, making it a prime target for us.

The other primary consideration based on first-hand past experience is that Epcot is definitely to be avoided on the weekend, due to locals clogging up the annual Food and Wine Festival. That place simply fills up with hungry people every weekend during the festival. Hungry people means "eaters", and "eaters" is highly correlated with both "slow walkers" and (worse) "scooter people" -- two categories of guests to be avoided at all costs. Eliminating the weekend because of Food & Wine crowds and Tuesday because of our short day means that our Epcot visit must occur on Monday 10/7, by simple process of elimination. It's a lot like Sudoku, when you really think about it.

So we've got one firm, first step in our plan. Let's look again at the other days:
  • Fri 10/4: Magic Kingdom (alt: Animal Kingdom)
  • Sat 10/5: Hollywood Studios (alt: none)
  • Sun 10/6: Magic Kingdom (alt: Animal Kingdom)
  • Mon 10/7: Epcot
  • Tue 10/8: Hollywood Studios (alt: Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom)

There's some flexibility here, which is important because we haven't yet factored in our need to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We're going to need at least one day in which to hit both these parks, and possibly two. The psychic crowd calendar says our best options here are Friday and Sunday, both of which coincide with our optimal Magic Kingdom days. Not much of a dilemma because let's face it, the attractions over at Universal easily kick the Magic Kingdom's butt on any Friday, and twice on Sundays. Luckily it looks like we can accommodate both: if we do Universal on its best day (Friday) we can still do the Magic Kingdom on Sunday. While we're at it, let's just accept that Hollywood Studios is happening on Saturday, since there's no other viable options that day. Here's the revised plan:
  • Fri 10/4: Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure
  • Sat 10/5: Hollywood Studios
  • Sun 10/6: Magic Kingdom (alt: Animal Kingdom)
  • Mon 10/7: Epcot
  • Tue 10/8: Hollywood Studios (alt: Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom)

Now we're making definite progress!

One would naively think that now we just wrap it all up by doing Animal Kingdom on our shortened Tuesday before heading to the airport, since it's the only remaining park and day. We can certainly pencil that in as an option -- Animal Kingdom really is mostly a half-day park when you get right down to it. I mean the first time we visited it ten years ago we managed to hit everything by noon. Admittedly they've added Expedition Everest since then, but really, how much time does that actually add to your day? On the surface, Tuesday appears to make sense. Let's analyze this a little further, however.

If we go hard and knock out the Animal Kingdom on Tuesday, we've got a potential sweat situation. Running around trying to cram everything into half a day is certainly feasible but we'll have already checked out of our hotel, leaving few options to de-funk ourselves before heading to the airport. I certainly don't want to sit in that kind of malodorous state on the flight back to Texas, and I'm sure Aimee doesn't either: being crammed into a tin can to stew in your own nasty stank for a few hours while you fly home isn't quite the magical ending most people would envision for their fabulous Disney trip. To be clear, I don't particularly care about what the other passengers think (and let's face it, there's a substantial chance they'll stink and not care about it too). I am, however, quite concerned about not wanting to do anything that might jeopardize my coveted platinum status on American Airlines. What to do? Let's re-think our options.

Per the old-world astronomers, Animal Kingdom also appears to work on Sunday. Of course that's already our Magic Kingdom day, and we have no good alternate dates left for that park. On the other hand, we haven't yet taken advantage of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, which presents us with some intriguing nighttime options for the Magic Kingdom. We could do the party on either Friday night or Sunday night, freeing up valuable hours during the day on Sunday to play the Park Hopper card and knock out both the Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom that day. In fact, doing the party on Sunday night makes a "Sunday morning Animal Kingdom/Sunday afternoon+night Magic Kingdom" plan pretty appealing. It also deals with Tuesday's potential sweat problem by eliminating any need to rush around on Tuesday. And there it is... SUDOKU, baby:
  • Fri 10/4: Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure
  • Sat 10/5: Hollywood Studios
  • Sun 10/6: Animal Kingdom / Magic Kingdom + Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Mon 10/7: Epcot
  • Tue 10/8: Non-Sweaty Wrap-Up Activities

This is a pretty workable commando strategy, if I do say so myself. We've still got a big chunk of time on Tuesday in case anything should go awry, even if it means having to sit in our own stink. Monday's devoted entirely to Epcot, which is overkill and can easily be modified to accommodate another park if we need to. And both Friday and Saturday nights offer opportunities to park hop over to Epcot and brave the Food and Wine Festival crowds, drinking our way around the world to deaden some of the crowd-induced sensory overload if necessary. If I'm feeling ambitious, we can even add Universal's Halloween Horror Night to Friday or Saturday.

Admittedly our touring strategy would probably have more elegance and finesse if I'd started planning a year or two ago like you're supposed to. I could have written sophisticated neural network-based computer models to simulate every possible scenario and map out our activities precisely in a way that would account for every conceivable contingency while maximizing and optimizing our magical fun. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances just dictate that you've just got to throw caution to the wind and do it the old-fashioned way.

But at least it's progress, and I've still got most of my precious planning hours left. On the down side, while we now have a park strategy we're still probably going to starve to death because I'm around 143 days late making dining reservations. I'll have to think on this a little more... it's just not going to work if we can't actually eat for 5 days because it'll leave us too weak to execute our busy plan for Sunday.

TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:48 PM   #5
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How To Not Lie To Your Spouse

Short break today from my secret trip planning adventures, because I still haven't solved our food/nutrition dilemma and have consequently made no progress since the last update. Instead I'll regale you with a story about the time last week when I was almost busted making my secret trip arrangements.


So I had a worrisome moment the other day where Aimee cornered me and out of nowhere hit me with a "DON'T YOU GO BOOK US A TRIP TO DISNEY" blast. I'm surprised that a bolt of magical lightning didn't strike her down right there in front of me. Because what the heck, right?

I don't know what prompted this outburst. Was she ill? I saw no outward signs, except for the obvious delirium. Was she on to me? Impossible -- I knew I'd covered my tracks far too well to be discovered. The only flaw in my ingenious plan involves magical Disney mail about our reservation, because if she walks out to the mailbox to get the mail before I get home and Disney's sent us something that day, the proverbial jig will be up. But this was too soon, too soon. There's no way even Disney could have sent me anything incriminating this quickly. So where was this coming from? "What does she know?" I asked myself.

I swiftly calculated the odds and decided she was bluffing, so I decided to call her on it. "Why would I book us a trip to Disney?" I asked, feigning puzzlement. "We're already doing the other thing. You know, with the beaches and such as."

"I know how you roll," she accused, pointing a carefully manicured nail in my direction. "I just remembered that I said 'we should go to Disney World every year' at lunch the other day and I suddenly realized my mistake. I know exactly how you operate."

I breathed an inward sigh of relief. She knows nothing, I told myself.

"YOU KNOW NOTHING," I said out loud, in mock outrage. Going for distraction, I quickly followed up with "you think that just because you casually mentioned your unquenchable love for Disney I'm going to just run out and immediately book us a trip there?" I did my best to look stricken. "FOR SHAME!" I intoned, pointing my own finger and (if truth be told) playing it a little over the top.

"I'm thinking about last year when you went out and bought those ridiculous diamond earrings after I mentioned something about wanting a pair" she replied, ridiculously.

"HOW MANY WAYS ARE THERE TO MISINTERPRET 'I'D LIKE A PAIR OF DIAMOND EARRINGS'??" I thundered, faux-dramatically. "I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT I AM THE INNOCENT PARTY IN THAT INCIDENT!"

"Well I didn't mean I wanted you to go buy a pair" she replied, somewhat lamely I thought. (I mean, what -- was her intent that I should have stolen a pair?)

I could sense her confidence wavering, so I went in for the kill. "YOU ARE CONFUSING ME WITH YOUR MIXED MESSAGES," I scolded hilariously. I know from secretly reading Cosmo that most women are susceptible to this sort of made-up backwards "logic". Before she could recover, I put her further on the defensive. "So to be absolutely clear, when you say 'we should go to Disney every year' what you're actually saying is 'we should not go to Disney every year' -- correct?"

"No!" she cried. "Well, maybe every two years," she amended.

"Women," I said bemusedly, to no one in particular. "I think I'll never really understand them." (This is not at all accurate -- I understand women as well as any man actually can, from my careful reading of Cosmo. I was just being gratuitously rhetorical.) There was nothing left but to bask in the sweet, sweet victory.

"Whatever," she said. As I prepared to walk away triumphantly, however, Aimee made one last-ditch attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. "So we're clear: you will not be booking a trip to Disney."

I froze imperceptibly. I may be a hilarious dissembler and evader, but you don't actually get to the point of celebrating ten years of marriage by outright lying to your wife. What to do? How to resolve this critical dilemma? I remained outwardly stoic, but inwardly a storm of indecision raged. I replayed her question over and over in my mind, instantaneously parsing and re-parsing its grammar and semantics looking for an out, any escape hatch through which I could flee. Despair gripped me in its cold embrace. In terror, I found myself appealing to a higher power... "Help me, Walt!" And suddenly there it was, like a light at the end of "It's a Small World": a critical flaw in the verb conjugation! She'd used the future continuous tense in her question, instead of present continuous tense. There was my salvation!

I looked Aimee confidently in the eye and answered, using the very same future continuous conjugation, "I will not be booking a trip to Disney." Her eyes narrowed as she searched my studiously blank expression for the telltale signs of trickery. Satisfied, she wandered off to continue on with her day, never once realizing that my statement, while 100% true, was true only because of a subtle grammatical nuance -- I would not be booking a trip to Disney, but only because I had already booked it. Ha! I WIN AGAIN!

So the surprise remains intact, and Aimee's still none the wiser. I do, however, need to find a way to intercept the mail. With each day that passes, this is becoming a matter of more critical urgency.


TO BE CONTINUED

Last edited by the real robp; 08-28-2013 at 12:58 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:18 AM   #6
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Along Came A Mailman

So yesterday I'm sitting at my desk, taking a short break from ordering my minions around to catch up on some email and paperwork, when the insistent ring of my cell phone suddenly shattered the quiet stillness of my work environment. Normally I ignore it because, you know, "trying to work" and everything, but I glanced down at the screen to see who was calling. There it was, those bright words I'd been dreading, glowing like an accusation in the center of my iPhone screen:

Hot Wife

My heart sank. Briefly I considered ignoring it, but I knew that would just make things worse. Heart hammering in trepidation, I answered the phone. "Hey baby," I said innocently.

"IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO TELL ME?" she asked coyly, in what felt distinctly like all-caps.

"Umm, I love you?" I replied. Like I said in an earlier post, it's always best to stick with the truth when dealing with your spouse. I was, however, hoping that a truthful yet completely off-topic admission would steer the conversation away from areas that might be dangerous.

"IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?" she asked, steadfastly refusing to be distracted by such a transparent ploy.

I realized that she wouldn't be easily deterred. Caught between the rock of outright deceit and a hard place of more off-topic platitudes, I resignedly executed the only strategy left to me. Denial.

"Er, nope." Note that this isn't actually a lie, because the truth is I didn't want to tell her anything else. As always, never lie to your spouse. Parse the heck out of their words, and interpret as literally as possible to get yourself out of trouble. But let no lies come between you.

"NOTHING AT ALL YOU'D LIKE TO TELL ME?" she persisted.

I was determined to keep our clever back and forth dance alive. After all, she hadn't given any specific indication that she'd caught me in planning our secret romantic Disney anniversary trip. After all, there's any number of harmless shenanigans she might have caught me in. I wasn't going to confirm the truth about our magical surprise without more concrete proof that she had some incriminating evidence.

"Not that I can think of," I replied. I really couldn't think of a single other thing I wanted to tell her. Pathetically, I re-tried my earlier failed ploy. "Just the love thing. I think that was it."

A long silence interjected itself at this point. Hope blossomed in my heart, thinking that perhaps I'd been saved by AT&T's fragile cell phone service. The call had been dropped! I'd been saved by crappy technology!

"SO I WENT OUT TO GET THE MAIL TODAY." Her words broke the silence like a bunker-busting bomb, blowing away my defenses. The mail. I'd always known that one critical flaw in my plan was going to be my eventual undoing. I never did figure out a way to reliably intercept it, and now I was caught in my own incompetent web of well-intentioned deceit. Resignedly, I executed the only strategy left.

(silence)

Maybe if I said nothing she'd think AT&T had dropped the call.

"We got mail from Florida" she said innocently, crushing any remaining embers of hope I might have harbored in my heart.

"Wow, Florida. Imagine that!" I replied, evasively.

"From Disney," she explained. "It says we have reservations at Coronado Resort from October 3-8, with 5-day Park Hopper passes."

"OH MY GOD, WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!" I yelled into the phone. "YEAH, BABY! WOOHOO!" The only option I had left at this point was to feign amnesia, insanity, or stupidity. I opted for a combination of all three.

Aimee wasn't buying it, but she was amused at my attempts to avoid admitting to the trip. "I can't believe you booked a trip to Disney World in just a few weeks," she laughed. "There's no way we can possibly organize it that quickly. You're supposed to start planning like a year or two in advance," she admonished.

"Nah, I've got this covered" I reassured her. "I mean, we might actually starve because I'm around 145 days late on making dinner reservations. But we're good on everything else."

"What about the dogs?" she worried.

"Made arrangements with the same kennel we're using for Hawaii."

"We'll have to figure out which parks," she lamented. "With only 4 days we won't be able to do everything."

"Technically it's more like 4.5," I told her. "And I've already worked out an optimal strategy. We'll hit all the Disney parks, and both Universal parks too. We've actually got a buffer of most of the day Tuesday before we fly home that evening, in case there's anything we've missed."

I could tell she was impressed. "How did you do all this?" she asked me, in amazement.

"It's too long to explain over the phone" I told her, and forwarded her an email with a link to this thread. "I've documented it all, so you can read all about it."

"YOU POSTED IT ON THE DIS??" she asked, laughing hysterically because it's been over 10 years since my last trip report, or post of any kind.

"Well, I thought you might like to read the story once you found out" I said. "It's part of the surprise. Besides, I had to tell someone about it -- you just can't keep this much magic bottled up inside or you'll die."

"Did people think it was funny?" she asked.

"I don't think anyone's actually read it," I said. "But I'm going to keep adding to it anyway just for the private lulz."

"You're a dork," she told me. "Thanks for booking this unnecessary trip. I love you!"

"I love you too," I replied. Because like I said, you should never lie to your spouse. And then we hung up.

And so it was that I escaped punishment for making our secret trip plans. Then when I finally got home from work, we spent time planning out more of our trip, and much excitement ensued.

But that is a story for another post.


TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:33 AM   #7
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Following along!
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For the love of Disney...
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiigirl View Post
Following along!
Thanks! I'm about to start on the next exciting chapter!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:02 PM   #9
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In Which Rob Explains The Lack Of Updates

It's been over a week since my last update, so I hardly know where to start.

In the last exciting chapter, Aimee had just discovered my plans for a secret trip to Disney World to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Of course I knew I'd have to tell her at some point before the trip, but I was hoping for something a little closer than a month out in order to maximize the Oprah-like "shock and awe" factor. Unfortunately, sometimes the best-laid plans of mice and men (but not Oprah) go awry.

On the bright side, having Aimee fully-apprised about the big trip definitely had its advantages. With only 30 days to go, I'd finally accepted the futility in trying to do all the necessary trip planning by myself. No matter how I crunched the numbers, the math simply wouldn't work out in my favor: there was just too much for one man to do, and not enough hours to do it in. After all, you can't just expect to have magical success by spontaneously flying all unprepared to Disney World on short notice. People literally spend a year or more preparing for this kind of thing.

I figured we could use a "divide and conquer" approach to power our way through the rest of the gruelling trip preparation work, so I thought that I'd work on crafting a strategy to forage enough food to keep us alive during our trip (you'll recall that I was now 150 days behind schedule making dinner reservations) while Aimee could take care of various non-Disney logistics like updating the dog vaccinations. Between the two of us we'd have to somehow find time to order tickets for Universal Studios and Mickey's Halloween Party, but I was confident that we'd be able to fit it all in. With supreme confidence I proposed this reasonable distribution of effort, knowing that if we could knock all this out in the next 30 days then victory was ours.

But to my surprise and dismay Aimee gave me a pitying look, like one might give a below-average child trying to prepare an income tax return. "I really need you to focus" she told me, with an unexpected but deadly seriousness. "This isn't going to work if we're just going to ignore all the highest-priority issues."

I blinked stupidly in confusion, and mentally took a quick inventory of our status. Food: check. Pets: check. Add-on tickets: check. I'd already arranged plane tickets, reserved a rental car, made hotel reservations, bought too many days of park-hopper passes, and developed a quickly-optimized park touring plan. "I've got this," I told myself. She was probably just feeling jittery from all the danger inherent in trying to rush our Disney trip prep, and I realized that I needed to share some husbandly reassurances. "Don't worry," I said. "We're going to be OK. I know this is a lot to deal with, but we'll get through it together." I smiled, hoping to convey confidence and competence.

Aimee's look grew even more pitying, like I was actually a first-time Disney traveller trying to figure out the FastPass system. "Baby," she said carefully, taking my hands in hers and searching my eyes for some -- any -- feeble flicker of intelligence. She paused, and slowly asked "What... about... the pictures?"

Pictures? For a moment I didn't understand. Surely a few photos wouldn't be a problem... I mean, I'd have to make sure the camera was charged but that was hardly a high-priority concern. Then suddenly, a light came on in my head. "PhotoPass!" I thought. "Of course!" Aimee was clearly worried that I'd forgotten to make the necessary arrangements, so I decided to put her mind at ease and dazzle her with the fruits of all my research and preparation.

"Pictures? No problem!" I exclaimed. "I've already checked into this. They've still got the whole PhotoPass thing. In fact," I continued smugly, "they've now got PhotoPass Plus! It's even better because it costs more and has a 'Plus' in the name. Also it's cheaper if you order it in advance, so I'm ordering it right now and we can put the money we save towards a down payment on a Dole Whip!" I raised both hands in victory, waiting one carefully-timed beat before transitioning smoothly into a perfectly-executed fist-pump. I waited for the inevitable gratitude and congratulations.

Instead, Aimee's look morphed from one of pity to one of near-despair. "I need you to think this through," she said. "Work with me here. The problem's not taking pictures."

I stared blankly, uselessly.

"What will we take pictures of?" she prompted.

"Uh, Disney stuff?" I asked, my earlier confidence sorely shaken. "The castle?"

Aimee waited.

"Our giant beers at the Biergarten?"

Still, Aimee waited.

"Uh, scooter people? Dole Whips?"

Unflappable, Aimee waited.

"And ourselves, obviously. I mean we..."

I stopped mid-sentence, as comprehension dawned on me with all the subtlety of a runaway freight train. I sank into my chair, silly fist-pumping antics of just moments ago forgotten. "What have I done?" I asked in horror.

"Exactly," Aimee said.

Of course the pictures weren't the problem. The problem was us... we were too old, too out of shape. There was no way we could take pictures of ourselves at Disney World in this pathetic physical condition -- not on any trip, let alone on a fabulous commemorative 10-year anniversary celebration. The situation could be rectified, of course -- but it would take time, precious time. And time was the one thing we didn't have.

"What do we do?" I asked. For once, I had no easy answers.

"Diet," she replied with a cool efficiency. "Salads. We're going to have to commit to an all-lettuce diet, effective immediately. It'll keep us alive, but it's got almost no calories." I nodded enthusiastically in agreement, admiring my wife's ability to remain calm under trying circumstances. But in my heart I was dreading the ordeal ahead.

"We're going to have to hit the treadmill," I observed glumly. I hate the treadmill, but not as much as I hate the idea of looking like a chubby old man next to my hot wife in my anniversary photos. "I think we're looking at probably an hour a day, maybe more." Grimly she nodded.

"You'll have to color your hair, of course" Aimee observed. Inspecting the current state of my thin, graying locks, she suggested "or maybe you could buy a hat." I nodded, realizing that might be the only viable option at this point. There just wasn't time to contemplate surgery.

Now that we were both working off the same page, we quickly sketched out the details of a diet and exercise regimen designed to whip us into photo-appropriate shape over the next 30 days. We immediately put our strategy into effect, hoping to maximize our results. We've had some success so far, but there's a very long way to go. The salad is keeping us alive as predicted, but it's left me too weak to type any pre-trip report updates. This morning I cheated and ate a peanut M&M, so the illicit influx of protein and sugar has given me the energy boost I need to eke out this post.

In the meantime preparations continue, and we've received our tickets for both Universal Studios and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in the mail. But I'm so weak from hunger and exhaustion, weak like a baby or like a summer Olympian from my native Canada. I'm starting to worry we might not make it, so please save a magical wish for Aimee and me and our anniversary dreams.

I need to rest now. I'll post another update when I can.


TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:31 PM   #10
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This is hilarious! Following along and can't wait for the next entry.
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