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The curse of Donald Duck

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Posted: Sunday, September 2, 2012 8:00 am

Babe Ruth and the Red Sox. King Tut’s tomb. James Dean’s Porsche.

You already know the stories about famous curses that have plagued their victims for decades. Sit back and I’ll tell you a new one: the one where I was cursed by Donald Duck.

Fourteen years ago we picked up the whole family and trekked to The Happiest Place on Earth. The very first morning we had reservations at Goofy’s Kitchen, known for its kid-friendly menu and the endless stream of costumed characters strolling from table to table. Our group sat down, started collecting waffles, and prepared for some serious face time with Mickey and his pals.

It didn’t take long for Donald Duck to waddle by. A true celebrity, he greeted each child and started paying special attention to our 1-year-old, Cole, who loved every minute of it while Dad Interrupted and I adoringly looked on in a classic Disney Kodak moment.

Now, you have to understand that I have made a career studying how people are paid to do their jobs. I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s professions and how their employers decide to pay them. At Disneyland I watch and wonder, “Does Mickey Mouse get paid more than Tigger? Does Kanga get family leave because of her relationship to Roo? Is Chip contractually obligated to never leave Dale’s side?”

So I was a little preoccupied when a mallard with a speech impediment was hugging my toddler and Dad Interrupted leaned in to me and whispered, “Donald sure loves Cole.” I absently murmured, “Well sure! I bet they pay him well to do that!”

Ducks have better hearing than you might expect, and Donald was immediately and visibly outraged. He summoned as much hauteur and righteous indignation as can be reasonably mustered by a pantsless duck and stormed away from our table, honking and sputtering under his breath.

Chagrined, I headed to the ladies’ room. I was gone five minutes, tops, and returned to find Dad Interrupted holding Cole, who was suddenly and inexplicably covered in virulent hives from head to toe. Guess who got to sit in the hotel room with Hive Boy as she waited for the antihistamine to take effect and for the pediatrician to call back, even as the rest of the gang made themselves a different kind of sick on the teacups?

Coincidence, you say? There’s more...

Years later, we found ourselves again at The House the Mouse Built and I was determined to set things right with The Donald. I tracked him down to his lair in Toon Town, waited an hour for my photo opportunity, and when he was finally standing by my side I desperately made my case for him to lift his curse. I’m sure that the poor kid who drew the short straw that hot summer day had not a clue what I was talking about, but I walked away relieved that the drama I had brought down on my head was finally lifted.

Until we saw the pictures. Of all the pictures taken that day with a very new and reliable camera, the only shot that didn’t turn out (and the only one that never turned out during the life of that camera) was the snap of me and one very confused waterfowl.

Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at Her column appears monthly.

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