Last year, I volunteered to don a rabbit suit for my neighborhood’s annual Easter celebration. It wasn’t entirely without incident—I faced some major costume adversity along the way—but it was nothing that a mascot professional like myself couldn’t handle. Impressed by my rookie outing, my neighbor “Toni” asked me to suit up again this year.
This time she gave me more advance notice –she knows skills like mine are in high demand—and that allowed me to negotiate some new terms of engagement.
First, I insisted that the costume be brought up to code. The industry might overlook a single year as a one-eyed rabbit, but two in a row could easily relegate my career to low-paying niche roles.
I also arranged for a transportation upgrade. Last year I walked to the venue and used the nearby home of two complete strangers as my dressing room. This made for a rather awkward moment when I had to ask one of them to glue my eye back onto my face. Toni agreed to drop off the costume at my house the night before so I could change in the comfort of my own home, and to have an escort pick me up and bring me to the park.
I wasn’t home when Toni dropped off the newly repaired costume last night, but she sent me a message to let me know she’d left it for me.
“No random blog entries about animal carcasses being left on your doorstep,” she texted.
Writing that sort of a post was the last thing on my mind when I pulled the costume out of the bag this morning, mainly because “animal carcass” would have been paying the suit a major compliment.
The repair crew had worked diligently and did the best they could, despite poor source material. The wayward right eye had been meticulously re-adhered, which helped, but I was slightly concerned to see that a paperclip had been deployed to keep a neck seam together.
And then there was the matter of the face. Even with both eyes intact, it doesn’t evoke Bugs Bunny so much as Edward Munch’s “The Scream.” As kid reaction goes, we mascots generally aim for a hug-to-scream ratio of two-to-one or better, but that face had stacked the deck heavily in favor of screams.
I stepped into the suit at 9:50 a.m. and confirmed that it was still the same oxygen and sensory deprivation chamber I remembered. At 9:55, a late-model Volvo sedan had pulled into the driveway. (I know these details only because my housemate relayed them to me.) The driver and a handler emerged and escorted me to the car, and we rode to the park in what I assume was climate-controlled comfort.
As soon as I got out of the car, Toni announced my presence on a megaphone and kicked off the hunt. To ensure that the older kids don’t overrun the little ones, the organizers stage the hunt in different sections of the park according to age. Since my target audience was kids under five, I wandered off towards what looked like the shortest group of blobs.
My instincts were correct and I had found the youngest kids.
Their hunt, however, had been infiltrated by one slightly older and precocious child who said, “Wait a minute, that’s a person. I see human skin.”
I’m sure he did. The bunny suit paws are separate from the body, so my skin got exposed any time I attempted a movement more strenuous than a shrug. The smallest children didn’t seem to notice, but this kid’s parents probably had to come up with some sort of an explanation. Maybe they told him the Easter Bunny had a touch of mange.
This year, just like last year, lots of little kids wanted to hug me. (And my stalker was back, though she didn’t seem quite as excited to see me. I think she’s moved on to Santa Claus.) But for every child that loved me, there was at least one more who fled screaming, as if he hadn’t been visited by the Easter Bunny but sprayed by the Easter Skunk.
A less confident mascot might be dismayed by a bad hug-to-scream ratio, but I know it’s no reflection on my skills. I firmly believe they’ll want me back next year and I intend to make a few more demands when I renegotiate my contract.
In addition to valet service, I expect one more handler, because a mascot of my caliber warrants an entourage. Not to mention a costume change. It’s about time to pull this rabbit out of a new hat.