It should come as no surprise to those who have spent time at “The Happiest Place on Earth”, that it is even possible to have a bad day there. On our last trip we were having one such day. I will say early on in this story that our bad day was NOT of epic proportions. There were no major disasters or illnesses. We were tired and grumpy. Naps were needed, but the Princess and I firmly believe that napping is for wimps. The spiral down started with an incorrect wait time for an attraction line and ended with the loss of a brand new light-up Minnie bow. The details are unimportant, but suffice it to say we were both very unhappy in a place known for happiness. And in this wonderful mood we were on our way to California Adventure.
As we passed through the train tunnel we noticed something astonishing. Cruella de Vil was sitting under a tree! We had never seen Cruella before on any of our trips to a Disney park and there she sat under a tree with no handler and no line. We, of course, had to stop and meet her. I’m not going to lie, just seeing her was a mood changer. We love seeing new characters and meeting villains is always fun. The fact that we only had to wait for 2 kids to take pictures with her was another added bonus. Then the Princess got to meet Cruella.
Now I don’t know what she had noticed about us before we got to her, but when it was our turn she noticed a lot. She noticed that we were slightly off kilter. She noticed that the Princess had a “Mean Girls” themed phone cover. She noticed that we were excited to meet her. The conversation that ensued was sheer brilliance. Cruella proceeded to make a series of “Mean Girl” jokes with the Princess. She made fun of people wearing pink (it wasn’t Wednesday). She was sure the princesses were packing on the pounds. She smack talked just about everyone except my Princess who was part of her magical ‘we’. After a few photos we were on our way in a VERY different mood than the one we had before. We laughed all the way across the plaza. We enthused to the rest of our group when we met up with them and couldn’t stop talking about her the rest of our trip.
When I think about characters at Disneyland that would make me laugh and smile, Cruella de Vil is not the first name that would have popped into my head. Nevertheless, she gave us exactly what we needed when we needed it. She transformed our entire day. All of the minor annoyances once more became just that: minor. A good laugh with a skilled cast member helped us get a grip. Villains are bad, except when they aren’t.
In the months since that experience I have often thought about it. The Princess has repeatedly told the story about Cruella de Vil and how she was the coolest character meet ever. As I have looked back and listened I have thought about help from unexpected places and the Gospel story that teaches about this. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is about a man who had no reason to stop and help going above and beyond the call of duty. The parable is iconic. So much so, the word ‘samaritan’ has become synonymous with someone who gives aid to a stranger. The lesson of the parable is two-fold. First, we are obligated to provide help for those in need. It is not optional, it is imperative. Second, we need to be willing to accept help in whatever form it prevents itself. We need to be open and grateful to those who offer us a helping hand no matter who they might be.
The world is a funny place. Sometimes the person we least expect is the exact person we need. Sometimes the villain is good. Sometimes people can surprise us. Sometimes Cruella de Vil is the bringer of joy and happiness to families. Sometime life is not what we expect it to be and isn’t that a wonderful thing?