You Ate With the Plaster Pirates!

Dear Carlita Fran,

Your evening sounds positively mythic in that plastic-bottomed lake kind of way (which I confess I still fall for, smelly water and all). As you were describing this it fulfilled so many of my deepest Disney land fantasies. Have I told you, for instance, that my favorite ride–imagination-wise, not rollercoasterwise–has always been Pirates of the Caribbean? Followed by Indiana Jones and the Haunted House. It was so relaxing physically, but it let you really sink into the bones, and the sand, and the glittering jewels. It felt desolate and dirty and sweaty and murky. Cavelike and secret and dim and taboo. I wanted to touch the dog. I wanted to be one of the women being chased around the pole. I wanted to be the man chasing her. I wanted to run my fingers through plaster doubloons and laugh and hold a bottle up to my mouth time and time again in the jewel-lit gloom.

Can it be that this is the restaurant I remember as a surreal part of the ride? I remember sitting in the boat and watching people eating on what seemed like a twinklelit island at the center of the cave world. I remember wanting desperately to go there and then having the desire melt away when I walked back out into the sunlight. The restaurant seemed suddenly impossible, part of the fantasy of the grotto. It never really registered, until reading your note now, that the people were actually real.

Is that really where you ate? If so, my God. You have accessed some sort of ultimate fantasy I never quite knew I had. One that the Pirate movies, much as I enjoy parts of them, never engaged even remotely. You got to have a real experience—the actual ingestion of real food!—in the middle of the tiniest ever den of thieves.

The Smartwater discolors the whole experience, I agree. But still—my God! Next time I go to the haunted house, will it be your head inside the crystal ball, prognosticating my future and giving my mother-in-law what for?