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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Won't You Tell Me Why

Jamie Dawn asked, "You don't want to be Clifford the Big Red Dog? WHY NOT???"

Excellent question JD. The truth is, I've already done that. Once. Knowing now what I didn't then, I won't be dressing in that suit. Ever. Again.

Clifford the Big Red Dog has been around long enough that everyone recognizes him. He is a childhood icon. My initial thoughts of being Clifford for a few hours were certainly pride-filled. People, from a distance, were great. Once they spotted Clifford a smile lit up their faces.

I arrived at the PTA meeting place early so none of the kids would see me. I put the suit on right over my clothes. The smell inside of the Clifford head, left much to be desired. As teachers and staff arrived, I was there to greet them. I simply stood in the costume outside waving at them and every passerby. Seeing a grumpy teacher exit her car, and suddenly smile, after I waved, made me feel like the day was going to be great. Even the smell of the suit seemed less bothersome.

Early on, the people smiling at me brought a smile to my face, but since my face was hiding inside a steamy dog head, there weren't many reasons to smile as the morning progressed.

My brain grew foggy from the steam of my own breath, I could see what appeared to be a small child running quickly toward me. Imagine a sweet 5-year-old, curly haired blonde, smiling ear-to-ear, arms outstretched, with the power of a linebacker. I saw her coming through the mesh Clifford eyes. There was nowhere to run. There was nowhere to hide. She flung her body at me with such force, if I had balls, they would have been in my stomach. Forever.

The Clifford suit should really come with extra crotch padding because that beautiful little girl broke my cooter bone. Luckily for me, Clifford's face doesn't change when you're in excruciating pain in your groin area. I couldn't even grab hold of my painful area because, yeah, Pervy the Cooter Clutching Big Red Dog, maybe wouldn't be such a good idea.

You never forget your first, however, many other small children followed her head butting ways as they ran up to Clifford for a hug. Some taller children were able to bash their little heads right into my gut, taking my breath away, when they zoomed in for hugs.

Kids, fourth grade and up, have no business being entertained by Clifford. They have outgrown him, and see him as merely a fun thing to torment. The older boys kept shaking my paw with kung-foo grip. The older girls were trying to get me to let them all pile on my lap for a photo op. Some pointed and laughed. There was also a fascination with the Clifford nose. Countless little hands reached up to give it a pinch. Many intentionally stepped on my doggy feet, which, incidentally, had no shoes on underneath. A small handful of parents tried peeking through the mesh to see the sucker behind the red suit.

The highlight of that day was two kindergarteners. They were having a tug-o-war over my tail. I spun around in circles trying to stop them. Instead I just looked like some big dopey ass, giant, red dog chasing my tail.

The PTA president, who roped me into the Clifford gig, assigned another parent helper to guide me through the day. She showed up late and spent most of the time kibitzing with teachers. She finally spotted the boys trying to rip my tail off.

She placed her hand on my rear end, took the tail away from the boys and said, "Boys! You are going to hurt Clifford." She wagged my tail at them. "Now, tell Clifford you are sorry and give him a big hug."

As they fought over who was going to apologize and hug me first, I reached for both of them. I gave a nice big hug as I clunked their bratty little heads together. I placed my doggy paw to my mouth as if to say, "ooops." Underneath that steaming head I was laughing and making a mental note to myself. "Dear Lois, if you ever dress up as Clifford again, you will find yourself in a padded room. Just say no, Lo. Just say no!"

And that, Jamie Dawn, is why I hightailed my ass out of that school Friday.