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Conditioned by Disney

Most people can’t remember experiences from when they were 3 or 4 years old. In my case, I can remember my babysitter’s daughter’s Disney obsession.

My family, which at that time included my dad, my mom and myself, were living in Great Falls, Mont. at the time. While they both went to work, I was dropped off at an apartment where my babysitter Marcie lived. Marcie had two kids, Joshua and Casside, who just entered their teen years.

I split time with all three of them. I watched Marcie as she tried to build a house of cards, hung out with Joshua while he played Super Mario World while sitting upside-down in a recliner and hung out with Casside while she watched Disney movies.

No joke, her entire room was covered in Disney material from floor to ceiling, specifically, from “The Little Mermaid.” She even sent a stuffed Flounder home with me.

As a toddler, I didn’t think much of it. My mom had a variety of Disney VHS tapes as hand-me-downs she would always play for me. Mostly, I stuck with non-princess-centered movies such as “The Jungle Book,” “The Great Mouse Detective” and “Aladdin.”

It wasn’t until I was 6 years old at a different day care when I realized I had to bury my Disney fandom. During our rest time, kids could bring in movies they wanted to watch. I succeeded in bringing in every Disney video tape I had except for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” I campaigned hard to a daycare full of other boys, and we all decided on a vote to which I unanimously lost in favor of watching “Shiloh.”

From there, I eventually found different interests I put my time toward as I grew up. From LEGOs, to “Star Wars” (the prequels at that time), to baseball and fishing.

The point is, reminding someone of the earliest memories of their life can inspire and seduce them into doing things they wouldn’t think to do. In my case, it’s being exposed to Disney.

I tend to drop whatever I have going on in my life if Disney gets involved, as if I were a sleeper agent. Examples include: when I was 10 and my family went to Disney World; when I was 15 and we went on a Disney cruise; and when I applied for a Disney internship in college, but ultimately, withdrew from when I found out my parents got divorced. Coincidentally, the Detroit Tigers game I went to last May when turned out to be Disney Princess Day.

It’s almost as if a new personality takes over whenever someone or something comes along that reminds me of one of those movies.

As a 28-year-old man, I am consciously aware this shouldn’t something I have an interest in. It could be debatable it was a mistake, as a toddler, to be exposed to so much of that one brand of entertainment. But I have my other hobbies and interests I trained into myself, from hiking to running to reading mystery books to writing to baseball to traveling.

Take your best shot at corrupting me now, Disney lovers.

Contact Orrin Shawl at

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