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June 3rd, 2009

Overdue Apologies (Part V)

Dear Louis,

On Monday, Paul and I went to Disneyland, and it got me thinking about the time we went for your birthday in December of, I think, 1997. That would have made you 11, which sounds about right.

Mom and Dad were nice enough to let me bring my friend Lauren (recall her from the Halloween Finger Incident of 1998) in addition to the hordes of 10 and 11 year old boys. They were also nice enough to let Lauren and I go off by ourselves for a few hours. “But be back by eight,” Dad instructed us.

But you know how amusement parks are. It smelled like burgers, popcorn and the promise of something deep-fried, there was a dixieland band playing, and as many as 89 little girls dressed liked cinderella, most of them crying. If it wasn’t utter chaos, it was certainly enough mayhem for us to think Dad had said “eight-thirty,” instead. “‘Kay, great, sure!” Lauren and I said, running off in the direction of Splash Mountain. The plan was to ride Splash Mountain as many times as we could before we had to get back.

I think we must have ridden it 10 times. About the seventh time down the giant hill, I started to think maybe we’d better get back by eight just in case. “I can’t remember what he said, but I’m pretty sure it was eight-thirty, right?” I asked Lauren. “I think so.”

So we rode a few more times. When it was 8:35, we started running over to the meeting point in Fantasyland. By this point, I want you to know, I was already feeling guilty. We were five minutes late and you and your friends would be waiting for us. Five minutes of prime ride time for the birthday boy were being wasted. In fact, I was so intent on getting there in a speedy fashion that, as I navigated through the crowd, my swinging hand hit a little kid in the face (not hard) and I just kept on walkin’. (I’m sure I’ll end up writing him or her a letter later, too.)

But when were about 100 feet from the meeting place, I saw my dad looking for us. He didn’t look happy. He’d said eight. To save face in front of family and friends, I defended myself by repeating, “I swear I thought you said eight-thirty,” which was the truth, but not a very strong argument. I thought the guilt of being five minutes late was bad enough. But knowing I’d made you spend 35 minutes of your birthday waiting for me while dad and mom became increasingly more tense about where their teenage daughter could have disappeared to? That guilt was crushing.

I know it may not seem like the worst thing I could do to you, but for some reason, the thought of you sitting on a rock in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, planning with your friends where you want to go to next, if only your stupid sister would hurry up and get back is just so painfully adorable that it makes me sad. I guess it just means I like you. I’m sorry, Lou.

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