/ Monday, March 18th, 2013

I wear my Disney fan-dom on my sleeve.  (Well, actually, I usually have it on the front of my shirt, but I trust you know what I mean.)  It is pretty well-known throughout my school, even among students I don’t have, that I am “that Disney teacher.”

For example, one afternoon there was a PA announcement at the end of the day that a Mickey Mouse lanyard with keys had been left in the office, and five different people came to see if they were mine.  I even heard a staff member in the hall say, “Why make an all-call?  They’re Viszoki’s.”  And while I am known to absent-mindedly leave my keys, purse, Coke Zero, lesson plans, and sanity all over the place, THIS TIME–it wasn’t me…..  (though I do want to know whose keys they were!)

So, suffice it to say, people KNOW I am a Disney Dork.  Don’t be offended by the expression.  I gave it to myself, and I take great pride in this distinction.  But because it is so obvious–to everyone in my school–that I am not just the average person who likes Disney World, I place the blame for what happened on my colleague… It’s NOT my fault.  Really.  She should have known better.

The Incident took place in the main office of my school.  The quiet and calm are in stark contrast to the productive noise of my classroom.  I breathe it in, sigh, and have a seat, waiting to speak with a colleague.  In my mind, I am contemplating my ADR’s  for spring break, but outwardly, I look like any other tired staff member, aside from my Ronald-McDonald-red, runDisney Minnie Mouse sneakers (it was, after all, dress down Friday.)

My colleague finishes her call and beckons me into her office.  A small fish tank sits in the corner, the bubbles from the filter creating a quiet, reassuring hum.  A massive spider plant sprawls along the windowsill.  Pictures of her beautiful children and grandchildren sit propped in color-coordinated frames along her desk.  On the shelves, precise organized binders are labeled and shelved alphabetically.  The room, in other words, looks nothing like my well-intentioned, but slightly unkempt (nice SAT word, eh?), classroom.

I ease into the squishy chair (which would not flip backwards if I leaned back too far–one of the more horrifying days in my teaching career…. I am still in recovery, so I shall not speak more of that.)  As I am about to ask the question that precipitated the meeting, I see it… On top of her shelf, next to several pots of African violets, I spy two tiny wings…. there are eyes big and yellow.  I see horns of a steer. All are on quite a loveable fellow!!  From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment…… Sing it with me now… And there, VOILA! You’ve got a Figment!

Before we go any further, the important thing to note is that this is no ordinary Figment.  He’s about eight inches tall and is wearing a yellow and red sweater with Figment scrawled across the front.  He’s an original!!!!  Oh my gosh!!  They don’t make him like that anymore!!!  He’s vintage!  Does she have ANY IDEA how totally COOL that is??  It’s a piece of Epcot history, sitting right here in our school!  I have goose bumps!

<<Play it cool, Christy…>>

“Oh, wow–cute Figment!”  (That’s pretty calm and a normal start to conversation, right?)

My colleague smiles.  “Oh yeah,” she says casually.  “That is from my first trip to Disney with my children.  We just loved Figment.”

<<Gently test the waters…..>>  “I have one like him, too.  Mine is a little bigger… You know they don’t make  Figmenthim with the sweater anymore.”

“Oh really?”  She seems sincerely interested. Pleased, I continue on…

“Oh yeah… The ride has changed a lot since you saw it on your first trip….”  I regale her with the first revision of the Imagination pavilion, its lack of public support, the protests to bring back Figment and Dreamfinder.  She nods and looks at her watch casually…

“So what happened next?” she asks politely.  <<I guess I should mention–in her defense–that we were waiting for a third colleague, so her question, in retrospect, may not have been sincere, but more of a “fill-the-awkward-silence” time-filler…>>

However, in the moment, her question went through the Disney filter in my mind, and like the scale in “Willy Wonka”, she came up as a good egg.  She’s one of my people! She wants to discuss Disney history!  How did I never know this before???  I bet she is the owner of the Mickey Mouse lanyard!

And so, I launched into a conversation (a conversation doesn’t need to involve the other person, does it?) about the return of Figment (without his sweater) and the continued absence of Dreamfinder… and then about importance of Dreamfinder–how vital he was to the story and how lost Figment seems without him…  Oh, and meeting Ron Schneider!  And reading his book–have you heard of his book??? (No, no I haven’t–looks at the watch, not so casually).

She starts typing furiously, but I plow on.. after all, she keeps saying “uh huh” and “oh yeah” at mostly appropriate times in my spiel… Clearly, she is listening, right?… I start telling her about seeing the exact spot where Figment and Dreamfinder met for the first time and then riding Imagination with Ron Schneider and Lou.  “I mean, can you imagine anything more amazing, more perfectly Disney, than that?”

She stands.  YES!! This IS the highlight of the story!!!  Give Dreamfinder a standing ovation!!!

But wait… She stretches, looks out the windowed panel of her door…  A look of relief washes over her face, and she opens the door to see my colleague seated where I had been fifteen minutes–have I really been talking for fifteen minutes??–ago.

“Oh, I thought you were on the phone so I’ve been waiting here, ” the second colleague says.

“No no no!! PLEASE PLEASE come in.”

And so, the originally-planned meeting began, and as I started to process what had just happened, my euphoria over a vintage Figment dissipated.  With it came the sad realization, that while she is a consummate professional, amazing educator, and terrific friend, my colleague is NOT one of “my people.”  She didn’t really want to know what had happened to the Imagination Pavilion.  She was just….. being polite.  Into my heart returned that little piece of loneliness I usually carry with me–it’s a knowledge that most people just don’t understand what makes me tick…  Most people don’t WANT to debate the merits of the Disney dining plan or play “let’s pretend we’re in Disney right now–what should we do?”  I’ve learned over many years to keep my love of Disney at “normal”, socially- acceptable levels, and today I had missed the social cues and in the process, let the true Christy emerge.  I felt a bit embarrassed, and as I left–giving a parting glance at Figment–I felt sad.

I came home later and felt the need to write Lou a thank you note… He has created a place for me, and I venture a guess a few other people, to allow what makes me tick to be public.  I can be excited about a vintage Figment, and people here will be excited with me.  The WDW Radio family gives me contact with “my people.”  While we are often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, we know we are family.

One night soon, let’s discuss the Imagination Pavilion.  :)




16 Responses to "Confessions of a Disney Addict: The Case of the Vintage Figment"

  1. Tricia says:

    I feel your pain.

  2. TheCapellsMom says:

    We have one one of those original plush Figments from when my husband went to Epcot many years ago. We actually did some research to determine when it was made so that we could figure out which visit he got it on! We mourn the closing of the original Journey Into Imagination ride and regularly show our children the videos of Dreamfinder on Youtube so they can see how the ride “should” be. You are NOT alone in your Disney Dorkiness!

  3. pamela bart says:

    Awww-I feel for you.Other than podcasts I have no one to geek out with so I would have done the same thing

  4. Diane Jones says:

    Totally understand what you are talking about when having to squelch the crazy Disney thing with 99% of the people I encounter. But, I am loving reading your articles…so humorous and well-written. (you get an A in my grade book) And so true about finding a Disney home in Lou’s (and a few others) podcasts.
    Looking forward to more….

  5. Zac B says:

    Thank Heaven, I’m not crazy!! Or if I am, then I’m certainly not alone.

  6. Makena says:

    I loved reading this! Especially the ending. It really recaps what the WDW Radio Family is. A group of people there for each other through think and thin.

    I geek out every once in a while about the smallest Disney things. My friends have learned to deal with it, and I even get the oppurtunity to meet others that love Disney also. Disney can bring people together! <3

  7. Ken B says:

    Ah, the deja-vu of it all. The simple tap on an ever present line of the Disney domino of thoughts that consume our brains. It warms my heart to read your words. To be reminded once again that there are others “like me” out there :)

  8. Jamie says:

    AWW Christy!! I loved this story! I know exactly how you feel….especially when someone brings up something Disney…then I start to talk and go into things, and they give the blank stare. lol
    That’s why only a few people “get it” and thats why we are so connected! :)

  9. Maureen Wahtera says:

    I wear my Mickey sneakers on dress down Friday, also. My desk has a number of Disney items including a Mickey wall clock and pictures on the wall. People will, from time to time play with my Disney Potato Head (I have 2 draws full of items to change him/her). People do laugh at me once in a while, but it they are planning a trip, it’s my desk they stop at to ask questions. I won’t usually bring up Disney, but people should know by now that if they say the word “Disney”, I will talk non stop. So if they ask me anything Disney related, they have brought it upon themselves. But I agree, they are not my people and I just can’t seem to understand why people just don’t get it. Everytime I plan a trip, the question is “why do you keep going there? Don’t you get board?” Seems like such a silly question to a Disney fan.

    It did make me a little sad to read your post though because I understand. If I spy a Disney item, usually a coffee mug while someone is getting their morning coffe, I will begin. “Oh MGM” “You know they changed the name” and on I go. After they are trapped until they finish making their coffee. :)

  10. Richie says:

    Can-not believe the first paragraph! I am known as the “Disney-teacher” in my school, as well. What a kinship! I love to wear my mouse ears for no reason at all the first week of classes; they think I’m a complete nut, at first, but then the kids totally get into it.
    Funny thing: my wife and I just recently welcomed our first child into the world. I took a three-week paternity leave, and halfway through it, my colleague gave me the letters of congratulation the kids wrote for me; roughly 75% of them had some form of Mickey Mouse or Frontierland (my favorite land) on it…my wife was hysterical :)

  11. sheila says:

    So true….
    my co-workers often make fun of me (I can laugh along with them)
    I don’t always understand, when they’re talking about going out getting drunk or partying.
    I love the sweetness of Disney. That “Americana” feeling. I learn something new every time I go.
    I use to try and convince people to love it as much as me, now I’m just there when they need help planning a trip.

    So YES this site is my little dose of Magic everyday and Lou’s inspirational words always make me feel good. :)

  12. Lorraine P.(strawberrylilacs) says:

    Can’t talk Disney much at all either at work. Once a co-worker went to WDW and I thought great – I could imagine all the fun discussions to come. However she stated when she came back to work that She Was Not Impressed with WDW. WHAT ????? I slowly backed away from her desk.

  13. Elaine says:

    OMG! I laughed out loud! Especially the “lets pretend we’re in Disney World right now” part. I can’t tell u how many times I’ve said that to my family (and sometimes when I’m all by myself). At least now I know i haven’t gone completely Mad Hatter. LOL!

  14. You can tell me all about Figment anytime day or night, Christy!!!

  15. Kristi says:

    This is EXACTLY how I feel at all times! Not just with coworkers (I, too, work at a school), but with most of my family and friends. It’s nice to know it’s not just me. Send my Thanks to Lou as well. I look forward to being with ‘my people’ again at D23!

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