The Essayist

Aggregated long-form essays from the world's best writers and publications.

A Rough Guide to Disneyworld

At the risk of becoming a one-blog PR machine charged only with ensuring the success of John Jeremiah Sullivan, here’s another brilliant essay from JJS. I kind of wanted to leave it a while, but I’m a sucker for these bad-dad stories. So here it is

The camper containing Shell, Trevor, Flora and Lil’ Dog moved south-southeast from Chattanooga. We were converging like lines on a graphing calculator. Unless you are very, very strong, the time will come when you Disney, and our time had come, unrolling like a glaring scroll in the form of I-95. It was a Saturday. The next day would be Father’s Day. This whole voyage, it turned out, was billed as a Father’s Day gift to me and Trevor, which in my case was like having been shot with a heavy barbiturate dart and bundled off to your own birthday party. Nonetheless I had little anxiety — a total lack of options will often produce a strange, free feeling. In the rearview mirror, Mimi practically strained her car-seat buckles with impatience. My highway thoughts passed through a curious phase of gratitude toward Walter Disney, as an individual, for having made possible such an intensity of childhood joy. Maybe Trevor felt the same about his little brood, hundreds of miles away, fewer each minute.

There’s something I should mention about Trevor, though I wouldn’t if it weren’t relevant to much of what came later, but he smokes a stupendous amount of weed. Think of a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, that’s 20 cigarettes. Trevor smokes about that many joints, on a heavy day, the first one while he’s making coffee. And yet is highly functional in all social and professional senses, or almost all. I’ve definitely seen him muff some conversations. Still, 90 percent of the time he’s one of the sharpest and most interesting people I know. But to repeat: the brother is always, always high…

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