You’re going to laugh. AT me, not with me.
This past weekend we spent a day with friends in Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s home-grown theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, just a little over an hour’s drive from my home.
We picked an extremely hot and humid, not to mention fairly crowded, day, and we had some problems with rides and attractions closing or experiencing delays just as we were about to board. And, this was only my third time visiting this park, so I didn’t know my way around backwards and forward, like I do another famous theme park we all know. So, it was also a little frustrating at times.
And, being a Disney Parks Moms Panelist, I couldn’t help but make comments right and left that began with, “Well, I hate to say anything, but DISNEY would do/not do it this way…,” surely annoying everyone around me to no end.
Don’t get me wrong, Dollywood is a wonderful theme park and definitely worth visiting. But they don’t quite have everything, such as boarding attractions, crowd control, etc…, down to a science the way Disney obviously does. And of course I noticed. Loudly.
Anyway, as we walked through the park, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, even the SMELLS don’t compare to Walt Disney World!” You see, Disney actually “pipes in” specific smells in various parts of the WDW Parks and Resorts, which adds to your overall sense of well-being, and also, studies show that our olfactory senses are closely tied to our memory…and Disney is all about “creating memories,” specifically, ones that will entice you to visit again and again so you can recreate all of those magical memories.
So, I kept walking through Dollywood, getting a whiff here and there of a generally musty, mildew-y smell, which had me thinking, “Wow, I miss the smells of Walt Disney World! Is it this place, is it that unclean, or is it the people here?” Because, honestly, there were some folks who looked like they hadn’t bathed in quite a while. Of course, you see/smell that at any theme park. Except Disney. Just kidding.
Midway through the day, while the older boys rode the “Wild Eagle,” seriously one of my favorite rides ANYWHERE (sorry, WDW!), with their dads, my friend and I took our younger kids to ride the River Rampage. Imagine a “cute little boat ride” which is actually a big “water world war” with large squirting cannons that you aim and shoot to soak other park guests while they aim their own right back at you from various locations around the ride. Even though we wore rain ponchos on this ride, we were ridiculously soaked to the bone when we finished. Clothes, hats, hair, shoes – completely soaked.
But, even though we were wringing wet, my friend and I finally got our chance to ride “Wild Eagle” with the older boys next, and as we loaded the ride, that smell was overpowering, even worse than before. I even said to my friend, “You know, I hate to say this, but at Walt Disney World things generally smell really great. But here, I just keep getting whiffs of bad smells – something like a mildew-y scent. I hope it’s not me! (as I laughed obnoxiously, knowing that I smelled just lovely) I think a lot of folks just don’t bathe – and I know I bathed this morning!” My friend just laughed…listening to yet ONE MORE of my “At Disney…blah blah blah blatherings.”
So, a couple hours later, we were all standing in line for a show (which ended up being canceled just as it was supposed to start – UGH!), and my friend laughingly brought up my “smelly story” complaint to our husbands. And as I stood there, I realized that I was smelling it again. And then it hit me.
I slowly removed my still-completely-soaked sun visor and took a big whiff. P-yew!!! It WAS me.
Specifically, it was my sun visor, which I had recently washed. It obviously had retained a bit of a musty odor from the detergent not rinsing properly and not drying well.
I had been blaming others all day when it was MYSELF smelling malodorous!
I started laughing, and they all looked at me like I was nuts- which, of course, I proved was true a minute later when I was able to quit laughing long enough to tell them of my discovery.
My husband scolded me for blaming others and then for washing my hat in the washer when “everybody knows the best place to wash hats is in the dishwasher…” And then he advised me to throw the hat away, which I did, just as soon as I could get to a trash can.
And then, Dollywood didn’t smell so bad after all. I mean, seriously folks…how can a theme park full of sausage links and corn-on-the-cob roasting on humungous grills, barbecue, kettle corn, and funnel cakes smell bad? And all those other folks? Well, obviously they bathed. Well, most of them, anyway. Or at least they took the time to spray themselves silly with Axe, like my own sons.
And as I was thinking about it and laughing AT myself on our way home, it hit me… one of the lessons I was supposed to take away from all of this, and couldn’t wait to share with y’all….
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)
The blame game. We’re good at that, aren’t we? Especially in our politically, racially, spiritually charged world. This was such a great jolt, reminding me to always consider and mind my own faults before ever accusing another. What a great lesson to learn at Dollywood, of all places.
That, AND…wash your hat in the dishwasher, my friends. Top rack.