Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 51 of 61

It should have worked. It almost did.

I sat in the back of the Adventureland conference room while Dan exhorted.

“Look, you don’t have to roll over for Debra and her people! This is your garden, and you’ve tended it responsibly for years. She’s got no right to move in on you — you’ve got all the Whuffie you need to defend the place, if you all work together.”

No castmember likes confrontation, and the Liberty Square bunch were tough to rouse to action. Dan had turned down the air conditioning an hour before the meeting and closed up all the windows, so that the room was a kiln for hard-firing irritation into rage. I stood meekly in the back, as far as possible from Dan. He was working his magic on my behalf, and I was content to let him do his thing.

When Lil had arrived, she’d sized up the situation with a sour expression: sit in the front, near Dan, or in the back, near me. She’d chosen the middle, and to concentrate on Dan I had to tear my eyes away from the sweat glistening on her long, pale neck.

Dan stalked the aisles like a preacher, eyes blazing. “They’re stealing your future! They’re stealing your past! They claim they’ve got your support!”

He lowered his tone. “I don’t think that’s true.” He grabbed a castmember by her hand and looked into her eyes. “Is it true?” he said so low it was almost a whisper.

“No,” the castmember said.

He dropped her hand and whirled to face another castmember. “Is it true?” he demanded, raising his voice, slightly.

“No!” the castmember said, his voice unnaturally loud after the whispers. A nervous chuckle rippled through the crowd.

“Is it true?” he said, striding to the podium, shouting now.

“No!” the crowd roared.

“NO!” he shouted back.

“You don’t have to roll over and take it! You can fight back, carry on with the plan, send them packing. They’re only taking over because you’re letting them. Are you going to let them?”


Bitchun wars are rare. Long before anyone tries a takeover of anything, they’ve done the arithmetic and ensured themselves that the ad-hoc they’re displacing doesn’t have a hope of fighting back.

For the defenders, it’s a simple decision: step down gracefully and salvage some reputation out of the thing — fighting back will surely burn away even that meager reward.

No one benefits from fighting back — least of all the thing everyone’s fighting over. For example:

It was the second year of my undergrad, taking a double-major in not making trouble for my profs and keeping my mouth shut. It was the early days of Bitchun, and most of us were still a little unclear on the concept.

Not all of us, though: a group of campus shit-disturbers, grad students in the Sociology Department, were on the bleeding edge of the revolution, and they knew what they wanted: control of the Department, oustering of the tyrannical, stodgy profs, a bully pulpit from which to preach the Bitchun gospel to a generation of impressionable undergrads who were too cowed by their workloads to realize what a load of shit they were being fed by the University.

At least, that’s what the intense, heavyset woman who seized the mic at my Soc 200 course said, that sleepy morning mid-semester at Convocation Hall. Nineteen hundred students filled the hall, a capacity crowd of bleary, coffee-sipping time-markers, and they woke up in a hurry when the woman’s strident harangue burst over their heads.

I saw it happen from the very start. The prof was down there on the stage, a speck with a tie-mic, droning over his slides, and then there was a blur as half a dozen grad students rushed the stage. They were dressed in University poverty-chic, wrinkled slacks and tattered sports coats, and five of them formed a human wall in front of the prof while the sixth, the heavyset one with the dark hair and the prominent mole on her cheek, unclipped his mic and clipped it to her lapel.

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