Small World

I’m convinced that visionary Walt Disney invented the Internet while cruising through “It’s a Small World” with art director Mary Blair after its completion on May 28, 1966. As their shallow skiff swam through narrow channels and the voices of myriad multinational, crooning dolls dulled to a drone, he must have whispered his notion to connect the World of Laughter to the World of Tears, the World of Tears to a Planet of Hope, and that planet to another borne of fear. Brushing the tickle off of her right ear, Mary probably turned to him next, glassy-eyed and smiling in an elephantine way, nodding her acknowledgement. It would indeed be a small world one day, and they both knew it.

It has indeed become un petit monde since the global takeover of the futurist’s vision. Anyone with online access can type the URL of a far-off position and suddenly be on the next virtual sofa cushion, noblesse oblige. Still, what Uncle Walt and Ms. Blair failed to recognize on their significant tour was how linked these separate residences already were without their conceptual Internet. There was already laughter when one coincidentally met a previously seen stand-up comedian and chuckled with him, recalling his best joke. Running into one’s ex unexpectedly at a car dealer already inspired fear. And joy could be found by then in the unlikely circumstance of meeting one’s high school teacher in a nearby grocery store. Still, what was missing from Walt’s “World of” portfolio was the World of Confusion and Displaced Identity. I know it exists, because I crashed into it one fall evening shortly after moving from the friendly confines of my parents’ home in Kettering, Ohio, to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

I was in Station Two at the often-mentioned Mexican eatery closing business down, when a nearby table of two called for my attention. From the small distance, I could see that they were sated, given the half-eaten states of their pollos fundidos and the shallow pools of shaved ice in their margarita glasses. So I went to clear away their dish ware away.

“We’ve been talking about this all night,” said the blond gentleman as I slipped his heavy turquoise plate ware away. ”You’re never going to believe this, but you have an identical twin in Kettering, Ohio.”

I looked at him for a moment, smiling blankly. Then, a little chime not unlike Tinkerbell’s nodding head commenced to lightly ping. Suddenly, the familiarity of the way his girlfriend’s square, brown eyeglass rims were framed by the center part of her red hair made sense.

“I don’t have a twin,” I said.” I was working in Kettering at a diner in the Eichelberger Shopping Center three weeks ago. You were my customers. I was your waiter.”

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