I rock back and forth, balancing my posture on my toes first and then heels. The fidgeting feeling travels beyond my lower limbs, though, and begins to creep into my fingers. I try to still my digits by clasping my hands behind my back, and this does seem to help quiet my overly excited body to some degree.
It is difficult to see much through the mass of people, but I crane my neck to get a good look at the lobby. As I piece together the fractured scenery between the heads that tower over my slight 5’2” NDM frame, I make out a beautiful mural on the wall behind the check-in counter. It portrays colorful beachfront homes, a lighthouse and some docked boats in a coastal setting. The colors are bright, yet they induce a sense of ease and care-free living. In the foreground, actual lampposts catch my eye. Then I realize that in a clever move of interior design, Disney has mounted these appliances at each hotel clerk’s post. It is one of those special touches that make Disney stand out among its competitors in the aspect of theming.
I close my eyes and focus on the Jimmy Buffett song I faintly hear beyond the murmur of chit-chat. As I imagine being immersed within Key West, I can almost smell the ocean.
My smile has now become a permanent fixture on my face. My cheeks burn from being held in a contracted position, but I can’t help their discomfort. This is a moment in my life that I will always retain, and my grin is an inevitable response.
A cheerful Cast Member, dressed as a beach attendant, begins handing out folders with resort information tucked inside. I am handed my very own Pluto-clad portfolio, and I beam as I read the “Welcome Home” message scripted across the cover. My guess is that due to the length of the wait, this folder was given to provide me with reading material while I bide my time in line as well as make the check-in process move a tad more quickly.
In order to enhance this special moment, I decide that I should strike up a conversation with another happy vacationer. “Have you been here before,” I ask the woman in front of me. My excessive amount of perkiness would even shame the High School Musical pep squad, but it seems to come naturally to me as I stand in the middle of Key West bliss. She looks down her perfectly constructed nose at me, gives me a “once-over” glance, and haughtily says, “No.” Her condescending tone catches me off guard. Suddenly, I am cognizant of the fact that she is an actual Disney Vacation Club Member, and I have now betrayed the reality that I am not with my embarrassing amount of enthusiasm.
My smile immediately transforms into a humbled expression. My eyes dart from side to side to see if anyone else has noticed the fact that this silicon-implanted female has just verbally undressed me with one word. I feel completely naked as a non-Disney Vacation Club Member in the middle of a Disney Vacation Club Resort. My acute self-awareness has left me feeling like a sham . . . a poser. Sheepishly I chuckle, “Oh. This is my first time.” She looks at me with a knowing smirk and says, “Yes.” I gulp and feel my pride being swallowed along with my saliva. Is there somewhere for me to hide?
In addition to feeling bare as a result of my diminished vacationer status, I now feel naked upon the realization that I’m not holding a credit card. Since DH is the credit card keeper, his presence becomes necessary as I find myself getting closer to our check-in opportunity. I catch DH’s gaze and motion that he should arise from the striped sofa and join me in line.
We find ourselves poised behind the line’s last boundary. In a brief moment we will be invited to approach the check-in counter with a cordial, “May I help you?” As we continue to wait, I look to my immediate left. Marking this threshold of vacation initiation is a sign that states: Welcome Home Disney Vacation Club Members. Once again, it brings to my attention that I am a fraud, assuming a position in a Disney Vacation Club Member line when I have not put my signature on a DVC deed. This is not actually “my home away from home.” Instead, I am merely enacting some queer form of breaking and entering. I shrink away from the sign and accidentally bump into DH’s side. As I demurely apologize for my imposing existence, DH looks at me curiously. I am not usually a NDM that presents as meek and mild, so he is slightly alarmed by my changed demeanor. He asks, “Are you OK?” Averting my eyes from him, I softly speak, “I’m fine.”
A beach attendant looks up from her post and waves for us to join her. I follow behind DH, watching my feet and not daring to look at the others whom still stand in line. DH motions that I should begin speaking with the hostess and acquire our accommodations, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I am far too nervous about the DVC intrusion I am about to commit. DH looks at me with a furrowed brow, shakes his head in confusion and takes over the dialogue.
I stand in agony while the sweet beach attendant goes over each item in our Disney Vacation Club folder with DH. Due to us booking our reservation under the name and ID number of Bill.Knows.Disney, our driver’s licenses must have given away the fact that that we are not true members . . . that we are merely renting DVC points. I’m sure this endearing Cast Member is aware of our fraudulent activities, yet she continues to treat us with the utmost respect. The guilt builds inside me with every kind gesture she extends. I fear I may burst.
When she finally wraps up our check-in formalities with the friendly phrase, “Welcome Home,” I can stand it no longer. I break my silence with the confession I feel compelled to announce. “We aren’t members. We are just wanna-bees,” I blurt.
I dare to look upon her face in that moment and am met with a strange expression in which I can’t quite read a meaning. A nervous giggle escapes my throat. I blush in an awkwardly shy manner. Then quicker than any woman with plastic body parts could say “botox,” I grab DH’s hand and make a quick exit with my family.