It’s easy to recall a few of my ‘most happy days.’
Aside from the mandatory ones a wife and mother must classify in the Top Ten, there are two that stand out for me.
One was a cool damp day in early December of 1968 when I donned a furry costume and danced around in the Etobicoke Santa Claus Parade incognito. Although my leather mukluks were saturated from the puddles along the parade, they happily pounded to the beat of my laughing heart.
For those who follow my blogs (March 28, 2016) you may have read about my new friend Kim Cayer who runs a business (email@example.com) booking herself and others out as entertainers, performers and a plethora of costumed characters. Perhaps, you already know where this is going.
At one point (ok, I lied … many points) in our early conversations, I both confessed and professed my desire to once again appear in costume to do whatever my heart and body desired without a care nor the risk of anyone discovering me through the disguise. I have always believed that I would make an incredible mascot.
In a recent chat, I made her promise she might one day help make it happen and I could joyfully check that box off. She was obviously listening because just last week she presented a proposal. “How would you like to be Mickey Mouse next Sunday?”
“Whaaaat are you kidding? But wait, aren’t I a little big to be Mickey?”
She assured me the costume would definitely fit (ok maybe the tails would become a waistcoat and the long shorts, hot pants but I was eager to accept the offer).
The time could not come soon enough as I anxiously awaited my pick-up. I had strict instructions … “Wear the bare minimum. It could be hot.” It was followed by “Ha, you might be sorry you ever asked for this.” I love a challenge and was happy to take it.
Need I remind you that Sunday was the hottest day of 2016 … 29 degrees in the shade, a steaming 39 in the backyard sun (no shade was available at time of party) and what had to be, a whopping 49 inside the acrylic, highly flammable Mickey Mouse outfit.
First on was the semi-fleecy one piece; then the long black jacket on top; a pair of polyester slip on shoes completed the outfit. Oh wait … I forgot the black knitted ‘dickey’ to cover any evidence of skin at the neck. The oversized moulded foam head capped it off and only then could I don the four fingered gloves (which happen to be my own treasures). With all adjusted and shoulders pads in place I was ready to embrace the role and face the eager throng of birthday guests for the cheerful one year old.
Before entering the yard, Kim suggested we have a ‘safe’ word signalling “Help. I need a break.” Or possibly even “Get me outa here.” However the only word I offered was deemed unacceptable for children. We never did come up with another.
Kim was my ‘handler’ making sure I did not miss a step (literally) or instruction for any of the activities she had in place. Under her direction and execution, we sang, played games, limbo danced and even created balloon animals for each attentive child. As she played camp counsellor I followed her lead with my exuberant animation and enthusiasm. Interestingly, I never once stopped smiling behind that ‘head.’ And thankfully, not once did I have to use my soprano Mickey voice.
The 45 minute set ended with a photo shoot with Mickey, when I at least got to sit on the step. Everyone, from the babies to grown-ups wanted a pose. And all the while my body became more and more heated within the yards of non-breathable polyester fabric (perhaps Lululemon could come out with character costumes in their patented wickable fabric). As I desperately attempted to remain alert (and stay alive) I took deep breaths from behind the head, but it only created more hot air to swirl around. My head was tilted so forward … I was lucky it didn’t slide off altogether. No wonder Kim kept reminding me “Mickey, eyes up and look at the camera.”
By the time the show ended I couldn’t see. The dripping sweat from my head had engulfed my eyeballs and my long wet bangs hung far below onto my cheeks entirely obscuring my vision. I was sopping wet; my ‘under’ pants (not to mention the other ones too) were soaked; and I was lucky to still be breathing. But I dared not disrobe until well out of sight. It would have been disheartening enough to learn that Mickey was female, but that he had white hair too? It was not worth the risk.
As the homeowner escorted us out of her yard, she slipped some cash into (onto) my inflexible four fingered mitt. Thankfully Kim snatched it from my loose grip to secure it until we made it back to the car, inconveniently parked 10 houses away. Only then did she look at it and count it.
To her surprise we had been tipped $100 for our efforts. Apparently that was a first.
Back in Kim’s red truck, she evaluated my performance. She said “I was amazed how well you did for a first timer. I thought for sure you’d bail because of the heat.”
I didn’t respond. But as I smiled, I thought “Are you kidding? I live by the mantra … ‘never let them see you sweat.'” And today was definitely one of those days.
I loved every minute.
Neeeext? …. perhaps the Macy Parade~!!~