“I’m gonna sing really loud, I’m warning you.”
“I’m the number one Disney fan. I can beat my daughter at Disney trivia any day.”
I craned my neck around the Number One Disney Fan to look for the daughter in question, but she was not present. This woman was alone at the sing-along matinee of The Little Mermaid. And, despite there being half-a dozen empty seats at the end of our row, Disney Fan sat right next to me, her Ursula the Sea Witch arms rubbing against mine in a creepy, overcrowded Southwest Airlines kind of way.
“We released 3 CDs.”
I looked up from our arm-to-fleshy arm contact, befuddled and not sure how to respond. “Who, Disney?”
“No, my church choir.”
“Oh,” Pause. Was I going to have to chat with her for the entire show? (Turns out, yes.) I was on mission to establish some pre-kindergarten bonding time with my daughter, not to make friends with a crazed Disney maniac.
“CDs of Disney music?” I finally asked.
“No, Christian music.”
“Oh.” Another confused pause. “Okay.”
I had no idea that I would be meeting the Number One Disney Fan when I left the house that day in my jerry-rigged seashell crown. If I had known about my seatmate in advance, I might have tried harder to perfect my mermaid costume so that I might make a good impression on this member of Disney royal fandom.
As it was, I could only perch one hand on my wobbly tiara as I tried hard to ignore Disney Fan’s bellowing of “It’s a Small World After All.” Her voice very nearly overpowered the pre-show organ music that blared through the antique pipes of the Castro Theatre.
The sing-along Little Mermaid film event can best be described as a Rocky Horror Picture Show for kids. At the door, a costumed Ariel and a woman dressed as that fish-hating chef from the movie handed out props for us to wave and crash at various appropriate times during the film. Grace and I came ready to croon along with “Under the Sea” and scream at Prince Erick to kiss the darn girl already. Disney Fan’s presence put a bit of a damper on the camp factor of it all. She was already taking things a little too seriously for my taste.
Trying to avoid further contact with the Disney Fan, I quickly physically rotated my body in the uncomfortably ancient movie seats as soon as the show started. It was time to focus on my daughter.
Then who did I see but Comic Book Guy.
Comic Book Guy runs the comic book store where my fanboy better half makes a weekly pilgrimage to pick up copies of X-Men and Batman and teenage-goth-inspired indie comic books that Jeff snootily refers to as his “graphic novels.”
Comic Book Guy actually looks exactly like the animated Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, and even has the same physical mannerisms. But he’s also a daddy and he was there with a kid, unlike Disney Fan.
And Comic Book Guy was funny. He threw himself into the singing and onscreen interaction with sarcastic abandon that floated above the kids’ heads, yet amused us adults. At one point he actually yelled “Ha Ha” just like Nelson, another Simpsons character, when Sebastian the crab got duped by Ariel yet again. Another scene showed Prince Erick leaning over the edge of his boat, mooning dreamingly for a true love, not knowing that Ariel perched right below him in the water. “Look below you!” Comic Book Guy hollered at the screen.
Meanwhile Disney Fan’s warning rang true. She certainly sang. Her Ethyl Merman-esque voice rang out over the din of the children’s warbling on every song, chantey, and hum.
Not only did she sing, but she also recited every line. And I mean every line. Verbatim. The only time she stopped reenacting the movie was when she paused to remind me that it was time to comb my hair with a fork or blow bubbles or wave my glowstick in time to the music. I dutifully did as I was told.
All this time, Grace sat wide eyed and silent, the only sound from her mouth being the crunch of popcorn and m&ms. I wondered if she was having any fun. The adults (including me) surrounding my daughter sure had a blast. I yelled and combed my hair with a fork. Comic Book Guy spouted one-liners and Disney Fan screamed out showtunes like a drag queen at the adult version of the show.
Which made me wonder what the evening sing-along would be like. I imagined costumed cross-dressers and lots of sexual innuendos cleverly spouted by a crowd of gay men and sassy ladies. It sounded like fun.
But it was also fun to walk through the Castro that afternoon with my own little queen on my arm. Grace’s spangly mermaid get-up got many well-deserved smiles and oooohs from her street audience. And despite her silence during the film, her giant mermaid grin at the end reminded me why I bought the tickets in the first place. Even if it meant I had to put up with Disney Fan’s freaky choral performance.