Editor’s Note: Last spring, I posted this “confession” to my Disney family, a kind of apology for failing to have experienced a specific rite of passage in the Walt Disney world community…. It is one of my favorite pieces, and wanted to share it again with you.
I’m addicted… I know it.
I position myself as a bit of an expert… your “go to” girl for Walt Disney World planning, news-sharing, daydreaming, and wanna-be Imagineering. If you have a question about Disney… well, I can answer it.
I proudly sport the “Been There, Done That, Going Back” license plate frame and generally go to Disney with a “well, if the line is too long, no big deal–I’ll try next time” attitude. I think I’m talking to a sympathetic audience–if you’re reading this, you must be a bit of an addict, too.
So, it is in this context that I was embarrassed…. and shamed… in front of a group of middle schoolers. Mind you, it’s pretty easy for me to embarrass myself in front of middle schoolers–I do it for a living… but THIS TIME… this time… I was put to shame about my DISNEY knowledge and experience (and for once, not about my lack of knowledge about the latest AirJordan, what 1D means, or why homework is NOT, in fact, the best way to spend an evening.)
This is a transgression about which my students will likely remind me for many weeks to come…… and I am dismayed.
They say recovery begins in admitting the problem, so I come to you, my WDW Radio family, to explain my plight and perhaps, beg forgiveness from those who are also offended by my mis-deed.
Here is my story.
The Setting: my overcrowded classroom. Mickey Mouse dolls and drawings–many drawn by my students– adorn my desk and shelves. Disney pins line the bulletin board. Motivational Walt Disney quotes clutter the wall. I even have some Pooh Bear dolls (a subject for another Confessions column) hiding in the corner of the room. I am, in the spirit of dress-down Friday, wearing my awesome, Ronald-McDonald-red, runDisney Minnie Mouse sneakers.
The Topic: We are discussing the decline of the Roman Empire. Fun stuff, I think. And as I trip through the obstacle course of backpacks and desks to advance my PowerPoint slide on the computer, I hear it….
“I loooove turkey legs.”
Now, any “with it” teacher will know that these students are likely NOT “on topic.” But I’m a savvy teacher–after 19 years experience, I know how to “re-direct” my charges.
Do you think the Ancient Romans ate turkey legs? Was that the reason for the downfall of Rome? I grin, thinking I have effectively made my point (get back on topic) and yet been “cool.” (By the way, I’m not kidding myself–no 13-year-old thinks I’m cool. But I can get them to laugh by saying I am.)
Two enthusiastic, bright young students look up at me, somewhat–but not very– sheepishly and say, “Sorry Mrs. Viszoki. We were just talking about Disney World.”
I swear, they winked and high fived each other, because they said the magic words… And they knew they had effectively distracted me. I blinked in rapid succession… Torn…. Advance to a Powerpoint slide on the excesses of Nemo–NERO, I mean NERO–or discuss Disney? What to do?? what to do?? <Decide quick! Middle schoolers can sense a teacher’s indecision… it’s like a dog smelling fear…. And they will pounce on any opportunity to change the topic.>
I act cool, continuing on my path <avoid the crutches splayed across the floor> and I think, “Ha. I’ve got them… I’ll just tell them I’ve never had a turkey leg, and that will end the conversation.”
Oh foolish teacher….. Nineteen years of teaching have taught you NOTHING!!!!!
The Problem. “Well, I’ve never had a turkey leg, ladies, so let’s get back to Rome.”
“WHAT??? You’ve never had a TURKEY LEG??”
The silence is deafening…. 32 sets of eyes bore holes into me. Most, I know, have NO IDEA what a turkey leg is, but see this as a great opportunity to stop discussing Roman Emperors so will happily play along with the indignation rising in the air.
Clearing my throat…. Um, no, I’ve never had a turkey leg in Disney… but let’s get back—
But you said you are the biggest Disney fan ever!
<<Well, no, I never said THAT… but clearly indicated I was pretty hardcore….>>
Well, yes, I am a huge Disney fan but no, never had a turkey leg… Let’s get back to Nemo <<dangit>> NERO!!!!
Mrs. Viszoki, everyone who goes to Disney has a turkey leg!! We’ve had turkey legs! Who else in here has had a turkey leg???
Arms fly in the air. I must shut it down.
Ladies and gentlemen…. Enough. There will be no more talk of Disney or turkey legs! We must get back to <<focus, FOCUS! as you say it>> NERO.
There is an air of disappointment… Sadness…. Malaise. She just said no more talk of Disney!!!! The students who started the conversation shake their heads sadly…. looking at each other as if to say, “Some Disney fan SHE is…
We finish the slides quietly,and then… But Mrs. Viszoki, WHHHHyyyyyy haven’t you ever had a turkey leg?
It’s a good question…. I have my valid excuses for avoiding Mission: SPACE, disliking Winnie the Pooh, and failing to own a Vinylmation all lined up, but the absence of the famed turkey leg from my Disney culinary experiences is…. basically inexplicable. I could say I could never eat that much… or that I think it looks a little funky… but the simple fact of the matter is I have simply never felt the “I must have a turkey leg or I will faint” instinct.
And so, I looked into the eyes of these wonderful, funny, and optimistic students and uttered words I may regret: “Well, I AM going down over spring break….”
And so it was done… I have now promised a group of students to eat my first-ever Frontierland turkey leg… AND to report back. I am hopeful that I will redeem my Disney credibility in their eyes. And, in confessing this to my family, I hope to receive absolution.
The Morale. The whole exchange has made me start wondering… what are THE experiences, foods, attractions that someone who calls themselves the ULTIMATE Disney fan should be able to experience? Put differently, if we were in scouting, what Disney badges would we need to earn to move up to the rank of “Disney Expert?” I’d love to know your thoughts, as I am worried that maybe there are other quintessentially “Disney” experiences I have missed but should try. I think we need a list–and we can then discover and re-experience these attractions through this occasional blog series. So, please–share your ideas for THE epitome of Disney experiences in the comments, and I will hope that I can maintain my “Disney Geek” card in good standing…
Now, with my confession complete, I must bid adieu and write that test on Nemo… grrr… I mean, Nero.