Disney really has nothing to do with the disillusionment I face in this very real and often sinister world. In fact, Disney has yet to produce a love story that makes me swoon, much less a prince that I would even consider pining for. For that matter, until Sleeping Beauty came along with the dashing Prince Philip, there wasn't a personality to be found among the heroes of the animated fairy tales. No, I cannot, in good faith, condemn the Walt Disney studios for designing the dream world that would come crashing down around my nineteen-year-old ears.
That responsibility falls entirely on the silver screen image of every debonaire, crooning, tap dancing, damsel-rescuing hero of the black and white films that I cut my teeth on. Gene Kelly led me to believe that there are men who can move like angels. Jimmy Stewart made me yearn for a puppy-doggish awkwardly adorable romantic that would give up his fondest dreams to protect me. And Frank Sinatra. The biggest devil of them all. Lulling me into the adamant belief that the words he crooned so sweetly, so easily into my ear were every one, heartfelt. Of course he would do anything for me. Of course I make his heart sing. Of course he'd never stray... That man MUST exist. And how sure I've been that I would find him, ambling down a sunny sidewalk in a cockeyed fedora, with that adorable glint in his eye and every intention of showering me with all of the Big Screen, John Wayne-Maureen O'Hara passion that I could handle. Complete with swept away kisses and starry eyed whisper-sung promises of forever.
Instead I find myself morphing slowly into Buelah Bondi (with much worse cooking) in the version where George Bailey never existed.
Lies, all of them. There are no Joe Bradys, no Mark MacPhersons, no Quirt Evans wandering the world in search of me. In fact - when it comes right down to it, they were all scoundrels in the first place. Delicious, enticing scoundrels; Requiring nearly as much rescuing as they offered - gamblers and outlaws and wolves. But such lovable ones.
Really I'd be better off with Disney's original faceless Prince Charming. Safer. More predictable - happily ever aftering... And richer.
But oh, the pinstripes and the promises that led me on the quest for my three piece clad antihero. My own Donald Lockwood to captivate - And Nathan Detroit to tame. Shame on me for not seeing them for the cads they always were, however handsome.
No Disney, I do not owe my cynicism to the lofty ideals you bestowed upon recent generations. My pitfalls stem from a different era. One when a lovable bad guy or a troubled good guy really were the best you could do unless you wanted a Ward Cleaver, but that's just comedy. I learned that real love comes with a dark and mysterious side. Always the hint of a threat... Always a roll of the dice.
And here I am. Like another cast off of the oft-married rat packers and silver screen showboats. But somehow, every time they start singing, Or glide across a set, Or draw a gun, mount a horse, prop their spit shined shoes up on a massive oak desk and light a cigar, I go all week in the knees again like an unteachable fool. I still believe in scoundrels.