June 4, 2010
Dear Future Grad Nite Attendees,
Just thought I'd let you know that the Disneyland police are serious about keeping their Fairy Tale land a family-friendly one, even on the late-spring nights when high school seniors descend in droves to celebrate their upcoming release from compulsory education. So if, for example, you feel the need to smuggle in, say, Extacy, to sell to a few close pals, don't be surprised if one of the many undercover folks roaming the park sees you and turns your night into one you'll never forget--but not in a good way. (By the way, why does one feel the need to take E into the park? Isn't it The Happiest Place on Earth? What do you think, you can turn it into The Happiest-er Place on Earth? Seriously!)
So, dear seniors, here's how it could go down, hypothetically speaking, of course, since I'm sure none of my darlings would be so unwise as to make this particular error in judgment. If one should get caught either selling or receiving, you'll be amazed at how quickly the police show up--several of them. Miranda rights? You get to hear them in real life. You feel as though you are in a late-night rerun of Law and Order. You get the privilege of facing your Learning Directors and chaperones while in handcuffs, as you realize they're going to have to call your parents to make the five hour drive to come pick you up, since you won't be riding back on the bus with your classmates. If you're astute, you'll be realizing right about at this time that among other things, you have just eliminated the possibility of participating in your impending graduation ceremony. In one quick transaction, you have just relegated yourself to the audience at an event where you were supposed to shine on stage. My guess is, there won't be much in the way of celebratory graduation parties, either, if that was in the works. And, my friends, it is beginning to dawn on you that that is the very least of your worries.
If you are, as many seniors are, already 18 years old, as soon as the school officials are notified, you'll be taking your first and last Disneyland ride of the evening--in the back of the police car to county jail. You can expect to spend at least a few nights locked up (this being almost the weekend) before your parents--probably the recipients of your one phone call--can come and post bail. Whereas just a few hours ago the only thoughts on your horizon were graduation parties and the long, lazy summer stretching out before you, now your thoughts turn to court dates, lawyers, and the possibility of a felony following you for the rest of your life. And high school kid that you are, your teachers and administrators cannot do a thing for you at this point. Adult that you are, your actions in this instance are your own, and you alone are responsible for the consequences.If, by fortune of your birth month, you are at this time a 17 year old senior, you face a slightly different fate, though no less daunting. You are immediately escorted to Disneyland jail, which sounds so much more entertaining than it really is. While your friends are standing in long lines to board Space Mountain or the Matterhorn, taking pictures to preserve the memories of this night, you'll be stuck in the holding pen, awaiting the arrival of your mother. Your mother, by the way, in her five hour journey to pick you up in the middle of the night (oh yes, you are more fortunate than your counterpart--at least you get to go home tonight), has plenty of time to run the gamut of emotions that she will surely play back once she gets you in the car for the return trip. Fear, frustration, disappointment, anger, and embarrassment will be her companions. They're probably your companions as well. You will have had your phone confiscated, and your money, which the authorities have no way of knowing whether or not played any part in other possible E transactions. They err on the side of caution; there is no benefit of the doubt here. You will also not be dining, despite the fact it's been some time since you last ate. There is no food or drink, with the exception of water, in Disneyland jail. Belligerence, denial, arrogance, indignant protestations--these things serve you no purpose here. Once your mother arrives and you are released, you too, despite minor status, realize it is possible for under-aged children to be charged with felonies. You realize, too, this summer will not be the one you had envisioned only yesterday.
One moment of stupidity, one moment of lapse of judgment, can change everything. Future attendees of Grad Nite, when you are told that security is tight at Disneyland, believe it. I know that you believe you'll be the one who won't get caught, that you can get away with it. Maybe. But really, is that the gamble you want to take? You have your friends, you have the world at your feet, you have a night celebrating you under the stars and fireworks. Let that be magic enough. There are parts of Disneyland and parts of Orange County that you really don't ever want to see. Hypothetically speaking, of course.