I Could Become A MascotPosted: March 27, 2013
A few days ago, I saw the Harlem Globetrotters play. It had been quite a while since I’d seen them last, but they are still fun to watch. In case you’re wondering, the Trotters won.
At one point, the Globetrotters’ mascot, Globie, performed. He had a child from the audience with him, dressed just like him. I thought about what a fun opportunity that would be for a child. A child, or anyone else. Anyone else, for instance, me.
“Why not me?” I thought. I’ve got experience as a costumed mascot character person. Not enough experience to come up with a better job title than “costumed mascot character person”, but I’ve got some mascot street cred. Perhaps enough credibility to land a mascot job when I retire.
I put some thought into the applicable experiences that I’ve had and could list on my mascot resume. Here is what I came up with.
McGruff, The Crime Dog
You remember McGruff, right? He reminded us to “take a bite out of crime” by following his crime prevention and safety tips. I work for a police department, we had our own McGruff costume, so my first mascot experience was as the crime dog.
McGruff was the best of my mascot gigs in many ways. The costume wasn’t very complex: a big dog head, matching gloves and booties and a heavily lined tan trench coat. It was by far the cleanest costume I wore.
The McGruff head was enormous, and had a long snout. The size made keeping the head on challenging. It would pitch forward if I looked down too much. The head was nice in spite of that because it had a fan that pulled fresh air in through the nose. But if the fan battery died in the middle of an event, McGruff changed quickly from the crime dog to the mascot for heat stroke.
Back in the day, there were a lot of tales of McGruff passing out at events when the fan failed. None of those stories involve me. I can tell you that hearing the fan stop in the McGruff head had the following side effects: profuse sweating, nausea, dizziness and dry mouth.
The Easter Bunny
Children eventually get the word that the Easter Bunny and the people who tuck them in at night are very closely related. I made that concept reality for my son when I volunteered to wear an Easter Bunny costume for a group of several Sunday school classes, including his.
The bunny costume was my introduction to the idea that not all of these outfits were as well maintained as McGruff. This was a mangy looking Easter Bunny, with big patches of missing fur. One of the ears flopped off to one side.
Walking down the hall to where the children were gathered, I could hear that they were already frenzied. There was an explosion of energy when they saw the Easter Bunny walk into the room. Several kids ran up to hug me.
A group of boys circled me a few times, making their assessment. Finally their spokesperson stepped forward and said “you are fake, I can read your t-shirt through your suit.” It was hard to resist questioning whether the committee would have deemed a five foot eight inch bunny to be “not fake” if I’d chosen to wear a white t-shirt.
Moments later, I felt a tug on my backside. I turned to see who was behind me, but could not see because of the mask limiting my vision. When I turned back, there was a little boy’s hand up near my face. He’d pulled off my tail.
I felt so fake.
Winnie The Poo
In the middle of my career, I started and ran my department’s domestic violence unit. My group became very close with a woman who counseled children who were growing up in homes with spousal abuse issues. She always threw a big Christmas party for a few hundred of the children in her program, we’d always help.
When our friend called and said she needed someone to wear a Winnie The Pooh costume she’d acquired, I told her I’d assign one of my people. She said I was the someone she wanted in the costume.
This was the worst costume of my three character mascot career. The head was dented. There was not enough padding in the suit to give it any sort of bear shape. I looked like a skinny rat. A skinny brown rat with a big head and a red t-shirt that had the famous bear’s name written on it in gold.
Though the shirt said Pooh, I was Winnie The Poo. The suit smelled like poo. I couldn’t stop laughing about how awful the suit was. It was impossible to see out of the mask. I fell over some children.
One day, the FBI will capture a serial killer. They’ll ask him why he did it. He’ll trace it all back to that fateful night when a skinny, red-shirted, cackling rat that smelled slightly of feces fell on him at a party.
On second thought, perhaps I should stay out of the mascot business.