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So there I was walking down Main Street, pink cotton candy melting in my mouth, when suddenly my niece shrieked and pointed to the map of Disneyland she had just unfolded, “There,” she said, “I want to go there.”

Was she pointing to the ever-popular (if rough) Indiana Jones ride? The overrated Space Mountain? The nausea-inducing Spinning Teacups? No. No. And no. “Those lines are too long,” she said. So off we went to Critter Country or, to be more specific, one little corner of it.

We saw Tigger first, all orange and black and bouncy, then Eeyore’s grey and gloomy frown, and, as we came around the bend, you would have thought a spotlight was shining down on him, he was so golden and bright and shining. There before our eyes was the one and only Winnie the Pooh.

Of course, the next thing we saw was the line of folks lined up to get a picture with the cuddly Superstar. “This line is longer than the ones for the most popular rides in the park,” I told my niece. “I don’t care,” she said. “I want my picture taken with Pooh.”

So there we stood for an hour and a half, waiting and waiting with grown-up, teenager, and toddler alike for an audience with that willy nilly silly old bear. The line curved and then turned back again, people shifted onto one leg and then back onto the other, the Parade of Stars came and went along with the laser show over the lake. Still, we stood and waited.

“We came all the way from Michigan to see Pooh,” two teenage girls told me. “I don’t want to stand in those other lines,” my niece explained, “but I can’t go back to Georgia without my picture with Pooh.”

In that long line (with plenty of time to think), I asked myself, “Why do people love this tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff so much that they will endure one of the longest lines in the park for this photo op?” “Well,” I told myself, “isn’t the answer obvious? In the Hundred Acre Woods, a close-knit group of friends love and care for one another. Nothing really bad ever happens. Oh, Pooh may run out of honey or get stuck in Rabbit’s hole every once in awhile; a rainstorm may come up and Christopher Robin may have to go get his umbrella to rescue Piglet; Kanga might briefly lose track of Roo. But these happenstances are relatively minor, and all returns to happy harmony before the end of the story. I mean really! ‘Oh bother’ is the worst profanity Pooh ever uses, and Piglet dispels such sage advice as ‘Think happy!’”

There’s no question about it. A. A. Milne was a genius, and I truly believe he was writing those sweet tales as much for adults as for children (which explains why there were so many adults standing in that line - even adults without children). In a world gone mad with pornography, profanity, vulgarity, violence, and corruption, who doesn’t need a picture with Pooh to hang on their wall at home and remind them of purity, innocence, honesty, simplicity, happiness, sweetness - all characteristics quintessentially Pooh?

Finally, it was our turn. We got our pictures with Eeyore and Tigger first (they’re kind of the opening act); then we were on to Pooh. My niece ran up and hugged him as I quickly snapped two pictures: one vertical, one horizontal. And we were off. We could not have been with him for more than twenty seconds.

Let me say that again. We waited for an hour and a half, and we could not have been with Pooh for more than twenty seconds. And do you know what? Every minute we waited…it was worth it!

Long after my niece forgets about the caramel apples, the Beast sighting, the Aurora wig we bought in the Princess store, she’ll have this picture with Pooh in her photo album, a picture with a critter that will always remind her of the greatest qualities a being, any being, could ever possess.

Well, I may have hit upon the mystical allure of Pooh, or I may have missed it entirely. But what I do know is this…I, a full grown, professional adult walked out of the gates of Disneyland that night, got on a tram, went to Daisy Duck in the parking structure, and drove home - all the while wearing golden fur Pooh ears on my head. Thank goodness the police didn’t pull me over that night. Would they have believed I hadn’t had one drink? With me all giddy and giggling like that?

August 2002

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