Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dressing up as a frog almost makes writer croak

They say that when you are called you must answer, and so it came to be last Saturday that I dressed up in public as a frog. 

Full disclosure: it was not the first time I had worn a character costume. Decades ago as a theater major I decided that any summer job I took would have to involve performing, and so I found myself on Friday nights dressed as a chipmunk at a local amusement park. My job was to grab an unsuspecting tourist and force her to square dance with me. 

Heel-toe-heel-toe, slide-slide-slide-slide. This was in the days when characters had screen mesh eyes you could sort of see out of, before hard plastic eye technology came in. You got a bit of a breeze. You could smell the popcorn. I absolutely wish that kind of job on every 19 year old. 

In high school I had starred in “Fiddler On The Roof,” but out in the real world I sweated inside a barrel of fur and occasionally got my tail tugged by unsupervised brats. 

There are pictures. They are not on Facebook. 

Nowadays I partake in an outdoor hobby which has, as its mascot, a frog. Several times a year there are huge events in which my kind gathers under one roof and buys hobby-based merch, swaps trinkets and gets their picture taken with their beloved frog. It is kind of like I imagine Friday nights are at the Kremlin.

As Saturday’s event approached, the call went out for volunteers to man the registration tables, stock supplies and so on. I emailed the organizer and offered to help. 

“How tall are you?” came the reply. 

Thus arose the age-old quandary—the truth or what it says on my resum√©?

I sent back the truth and evidently I fit the right range for a certain pond-themed costume. So I slid back into the saddle after 37 years. It was like riding a bicycle, except 400 degrees hotter. I could not see much. I heard people squeal, then hug me and pose. I found myself inexplicably smiling for each camera, unseen inside my giant green head. 

Afterwards, in the changing room, stripping off my sweat-soaked clothes, I was reminded of that joke; somebody asks the poop-scooper man who cleans up after the elephants in the circus why he doesn’t quit that job. 

“What,” he says, “and give up show business?”

. . .

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