As soon as the music hit the airwaves, my 2-year-old and I scrambled to beat each other to the television.
“Mommy, it’s, it’s, it’s…Tinka Bell!” Baby screeched, pointing wildly at the screen. “And Jasmine! And Lurmaid! And Slippin Beauty!”
I hesitated, my finger on the off button, then rolled my eyes in defeat.
“Disney’s Princesses on Ice!” the announcer proclaimed over my 2-year-old’s squeals. “This weekend at Gaylord Entertainment Center!”
“I want to SEE it. Mommy, I want to SEE DA PRINCESSES!”
And that’s how I was roped into what’s become an annual pilgrimage for too many Nashville parents: a trip downtown to an overpriced live show based on insert-an-annoying-children’s-character-here. Last year, we joined a crowd of thousands paying homage to The Wiggles. This year, it was all about Disney’s Princesses on Ice. And before you start feeling all hopeful, no, I’m not talking about a surreal morgue drama featuring Disney’s buxomest as the cadavers. It’s an ice skating show.
After I put a second mortgage on the house to pay for the Ticketmaster seats, Baby, my friend Jenny, her toddler and I dutifully showed up at the GEC on a sunny Saturday morning. We found ourselves knee-deep in a crowd full of 3-foot-tall Cinderellas, Mermaids and Belles, all squirming and squabbling and begging for toys and candy. I heaved a sigh of relief that I’d thought to dress Baby in a fairy costume before we left. And then I heaved an even bigger sigh that she was too young to realize she was merely a T.J. Maxx princess, whose costume bore no relation to any known member of cartoon royalty.
“Whatever we do, let’s keep them away from the souvenir stands,” I whispered to Jenny as we made our way inside. She nodded knowingly. But Disney had outwitted us, practically lining the route to our seats with dolls, magic wands, tiaras, posters and coloring books, all bearing hefty price tags. I fervently wished I had thought to fashion a pair of pink princess blinders for my daughter before we’d left the house.
“Mommy,” Baby squawked, pointing urgently at them as I attempted to whisk her past the loot. “I see dollies, Mommy.”
“Oh, you don’t want those dollies, “I responded, thinking fast. “They’re, um, well, they’re made of poo poo.”
“Poo poo dollies?” Baby frowned.
We rushed past the poo poo dollies, Baby holding her nose. Crisis averted.
Once in our seats, Jenny and I kept our kids from spying the toy and candy vendors wandering the aisles by plying them with fruit snacks, juice and a wild and rambling tale about a fight between Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse. The woman in front of us wasn’t so resourceful. She had caved and bought her daughter a bag of cotton candy that might as well have been spun gold.
“How much was that?” her husband asked, pointing at the cotton candy when he returned from the rest room.
“Ten dollars,” she answered sheepishly.
“Ten dollars?! Aww, honey, that’s a 12-pack.”
Watching them, I sadly shook my head. I had so been there before.
At last, the ice show began. The premise was simple and repeated over and over until I was ready to go all fairy godmother and turn the entire cast into pumpkins. First, a Disney princess skated around for a while, singing a song about longing for something more than her dull, cartoony life. Then a prince entered the picture, flung the princess around, and tossed her in the air a few times while the crowd oohed and ahhed. It was clear from the princess’s happily dazed expression that either all that flinging had given her a serious case of vertigo or her life was now complete and she could finally move to the suburbs like a Real Woman.
Obviously, Baby was enjoying seeing her beloved princesses in person, but I was surprised to notice that the moms around me seemed just as excited as their daughters. And that’s when it hit me.
While the princesses kept the little girls happy, the princes were totally there for the moms. Impeccably dressed, boyishly handsome and potentially gay, it was impossible to imagine a Disney prince ever belching or farting or spending an entire Sunday watching football on television. No, a prince would instead offer music and dancing, cuddling and handholding. Oh, and shopping. Lots and lots of shopping.
I looked down at the Cotton Candy Couple in front of me. The wife sat slack-jawed and rapturous while a shirtless Aladdin flexed his muscles for the crowd. At the same time, her husband slunk low in his seat clutching his beer belly, panic visible on his face.
I smiled to myself. I was finally getting my money’s worth. Because there’s nothing more entertaining than watching a macho man realize he’s skating on thin ice.