Saturday Matinee #128: "The Golden Girls - Two Rode Together" (February 18, 1989)
Published June 15, 2013
by Albert Gutierrez
Trips to Walt Disney World happen every day. Yet each one of them contains special meaning for each and every trip-goer. This may be their first trip or their fiftieth. They may be taking their children, their grandparents, their newly-married spouse. Magic is made through the littlest of actions, whether it be wishing "Happy Birthday" to a fellow guest with a pin, offering to take a family's picture if there's no PhotoPass cast member around, or giving Mickey Mouse a great big hug. During my last trip - in January - I decided to observe other people on their vacations, to see what they do, and how they play in the happiest place on earth. Some of the more memorable moments I shared on Facebook, others, I kept to myself. One thing I noticed, which I didn't think was memorable at all, were the occasional families or groups of friends who would spend a long time in a line, and when they got on the attraction, immediately pulled up their phone. As a result, they were missing the "live" experience in order to have something to put on YouTube later. Not a way to celebrate a theme park, if you ask me.
Watching these guests preserve these experiences through their phones rather than through their minds, I was reminded of one of my favorite episodes of "The Golden Girls." In the fourth season episode "Two Rode Together," Dorothy decides to bring her mother Sophia to Walt Disney World, a place she's wanted to go to for years. Rather than take Sophia into the parks, Dorothy keeps her in the hotel room so they can look through family albums, family slides, and family letters. Sophia goes along with it at first, but gets annoyed and finally leaves. Dorothy finds her in the hotel bar:
(Sophia sits by the piano, addresses the piano man.)
Sophia: "Hey, Sam, what's that you're playing?"
"Sam": Oh, just a little something."
Sophia: "Stop it, you know what I want to hear."
"Sam": No, I don't."
Sophia: "You played it for her, you can play it for me."
"Sam": But I don't think that I should - "
Sophia: "If she can stand it, so can I. Now, play it."
"Sam": Okay, you're the boss. (sings) It's a world of laughter, it's a world of tears. it's a world of hopes, and a world of fears. There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware... it's a small world after all."
Sophia: "Of all the saloons and gin joints in the world, she had to walk into mine."
Dorothy: "Ma, I've been looking everywhere for you. We really need to talk.
(They move to a table.)
Ma, why are you trying so hard to ruin my weekend?"
Sophia: "You don't get it, do you? This weekend could have been a lot of fun until you decided we were going to have quality time."
Dorothy: "Is that so horrible? Ma, all I wanted to do was have us finish unfinished business and say things to each other that we've never said before."
Sophia: "Dorothy, this isn't On Golden Pond."
Dorothy: "I know, Ma."
Sophia: "And you're not Jane Fonda."
Dorothy: "All right, you've made your point!"
Sophia: "Quality time has to come naturally. It happens when you're not thinking about it, like when we're cutting vegetables together, that's quality time."
Dorothy: "I was hoping for something a little more magical than that."
Sophia: "Let me tell you a little story. When I was a kid in Sicily, I loved lightning bugs. I'd stand out in the field and watch them light up the night sky. That was magical, that was spectacular. I tell you, I saw a thousand points of light. It was a kinder, gentler America. I turned to my wife Barbara and I said - "
Dorothy: "Ma, what the hell are you talking about?"
Sophia: "Oh, sorry. I must have lapsed into George Bush's inauguration speech. Where was I?"
Dorothy: "Lightning bugs."
Sophia: "Right. I liked them so much, I'd catch them in glass jars so I could watch them light up whenever I wanted, but they always died."
Dorothy: "I see what you mean. They needed their freedom."
Sophia: "No, they needed their air. I always forgot to punch holes in the lid. The point is it's the same with all magical moments. You can't capture them forever, no matter what Kodak tells you."
Dorothy: "So what you're saying, Ma, is that, like a lightning bug, I put you in a glass jar, and, waiting for you to light up, I nearly suffocated you."
Sophia: "Geez, Dorothy, you sure know how to beat a metaphor to death!"
Dorothy: "Ma, I love you!"
Sophia: "I love you, too, pussycat. Just promise me you'll never make me do this for the rest of my life."
Dorothy: "Okay, only if you promise you will live forever."
Sophia: "Okay, I promise."
Dorothy: "How can you make a promise like that?"
Sophia: "Hey, if I don't come through, what are you going to do to me?"
The episode has always been one of my favorites, not just because it's about a trip to Walt Disney World, but also for the wonderfully humorous and poignant dialogue between Dorothy and Sophia. Also, the scene quoted above includes a near-verbatim recreation of one of my favorite scenes from Casablanca, where Sophia plays the "Rick" role (rickroll, hehe...), and the piano player is obviously Sam. Sam, by the way, is played by R&B singer Freddie Jackson, best known for hits like "Rock Me Tonight (For old Times Sake)", "Jam Tonight," and "You Are My Lady." Despite its brevity, his rendition of "it's a small world" in this episode stands out as one of my favorites. I had always wished a longer version existed, although I'm sure if one did, it wouldn't include the audience's anticipation and laughter at the end, which made Jackson's version in the episode even more enjoyable.
However, the reason this scene in particular is one of my favorites is due to what Sophia tells Dorothy. We can't capture every moment forever, which brings us back to the guests I'd seen in parks, whipping out their phones and cameras, rather than enjoying their surroundings. Now, I'm not advocating a complete shun on technology when in the parks. Far from it. I enjoy perusing through trip photos, watching old home movies of WDW trips in my youth, and revisiting old Facebook statuses written during trips. My favorites are the home movies, when my parents would take turns holding the camera and just capture us at random moments in time. But that's all they are: moments. For some reason, people have this crazy need to document every single thing happening nowadays. How do you feel? Make a status on Facebook. Where are you right now? Check in at FourSquare. What are you doing? Take a selfie, filter it, and post on Instagram. Got an opinion? Share it on Twitter. Got a longwinded opinion? Share it on Tumblr. And for what? To relive later?
Some experiences are best left to live in the moment. And this includes time in the theme parks. You're here, why enjoy the majority of it through a lens? It's okay to put the camera down once in awhile. It's okay to stand in line for an hour and sit down on a ride without recording it for posterity. It's okay to just let the PhotoPass cast member do all the work for you when you're having a character meeting. It's okay, I promise. You can still take your own pictures, of course. Plenty of photo ops exist in the parks, along with chances to strike crazy poses. Just... immerse yourself in the park. Let it tell you a story, and remember the good parts.
Also, Sophia did get her wish. By the episode's end, Dorothy takes her to ride Space Mountain. Unfortunately for viewers, we don't get to see it: the show's producers simply used stock footage of the parks. But that's perfectly okay. We can let Dorothy and Sophia have their moment, we don't need it recorded for eternity.
And, of course, this episode of "The Golden Girls" can be found on the Season Four DVD (to be specific, it's on the second disc). The series is also currently in reruns on cable networks Hallmark Channel, TV Land, and Logo TV.