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 him 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.