Dear Pat Tomasulo

Pat Tamasulo interviewing Tom Skilling at the 2013 Chicago/Midwest Emmys
Pat Tomasulo interviewing Tom Skilling at the 2013 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards. It was one of the two pictures I was able to get while squeezing myself  between all the paparazzi.

It takes a real man to admit he crapped his pants as a child on Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” during a live broadcast. And even though they kept shoveling it at you, you weren’t afraid of a little backwash from your coworkers. (The flying roll of toilet paper was pretty funny, though.)

Your story brought up a very unpleasant memory for me, as well, and I’m sharing it with you so you’ll know you’re not alone. I have a not-so-fond memory of that ride, too.

On a family road trip back in the 1960’s, my dad drove the station wagon from Chicago to California and back while my mother sat next to him taking movies of every cactus and mountain we drove past as they harmonized to show tunes. It all made for weeks of fine cinema to watch later in life.

My father smoked cigars with the windows rolled up, which, my husband, Richard, says explains everything there is to know about me.

My much-much older sister, Beth, and I shared precisely measured, equal amounts of square footage in the back seat. A piece of luggage was meticulously placed between us so we wouldn’t fight over who had more space. Of course, we fought anyway.

One of us would either purposefully or accidentally nudge the piece of luggage toward the other one. It didn’t matter whether it was an accident or not. If that suitcase budged a nano-meter toward either one of us, it would cause pandemonium.

Also, I wasn’t allowed to look at her, touch her hair, or breathe too loudly. She was a lovely older sister. Just lovely.

Surrounded by all of our suitcases, my older brother, Paul, made a mini man-cave in the “way back” out of couch cushions from our house, and spent most of his time making signs he’d display to other station wagon-ing families we passed. I have no idea what the signs said, but it kept him busy.

But, when Paul got bored, he’d sing. And his favorite song on the trip back east to Illinois after visiting Disneyland was, “It’s a Small World.”

We had stopped for lunch somewhere in Colorado and as soon as we got back on the road I fell asleep, carefully resting against the suitcase that separated me from the wrath of Beth. I remember waking up because I felt my eight-year-old body being bounced between the door of the car and the suitcase, and I heard Paul singing THAT SONG.

I looked out the window and saw that we were on a particularly winding mountainous road, and felt the contents of my stomach beginning to defy gravity. I begged Paul to stop singing, but, being my older brother, it was basically his job to sing even louder.

I begged and pleaded with him to stop, even warning him that I was nauseated and would throw up if he didn’t stop. He didn’t.

I did.

I threw up all over myself, the back seat, and the perfectly placed piece of luggage sitting between my sister and me. My father pulled over at a rest stop so my mother could dig through my suitcase in the “way back” to find me something clean to wear.

I felt a little smug because I actually followed through on my threat, and my brother got in a little bit of trouble. Paul is, and always has been, the undisputed favorite child, so even when he did something considered “bad” by most people, my parents considered it just slightly less than 100% perfect behavior, so he didn’t really get in any trouble at all. He did stop singing that annoying song, though.

All my life my family thought that story was hilarious. Paul even bought me a jewelry box that played “It’s a Small World” when I’d open the lid, and Richard used to tell our kids about it as a bedtime story.

Over time I became immune to the effects of THAT SONG, but knew I needed closure. Those mechanical kids from Finland were not going to win.

So, when our kids were still little, my parents, Richard, and I took them to Disneyland. I decided it was time to conquer my fears and take that crappy little boat ride among the scary little moving mechanical people from around the world who sing one of the most annoying songs ever composed in any language.

So I did.

And then I did it again! I rode through twice! In a row! Without vomiting! I had been cured!

Since that day, I can safely say I will never be harmed by the song “It’s a Small World” again, not that I’ll ever go back on that ride, again.

I did run out of line, and possibly through a small section of the set, of the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” ride just before boarding, though, because it looked really scary. And don’t even get me started on the animated Presidents.

If only your dad had listened to you and my brother had listened to me. But, then we wouldn’t have these great stories to tell.


Here’s the other picture I was able to take of Pat and Tom while being smooshed between photographers at the Emmy Awards. I think I’d better stick to writing.

Note:  If you haven’t seen the hilarious Pat Tomasulo talking about his experience on It’s a Small World at Disneyland with the equally hilarious Larry Potash, Robin Baumgarten, and Demetrius Ivory, please click here: