Monday, October 20, 2008

Fat Monkey

I tend to volunteer a little more than I ought to. As part of the Book Festival at the civic center, my paper is involved with a children's parade of story characters. My duties were pretty simple: secure a couple of musicians to help lead the parade, blow up balloons and do whatever I could to help the kids have a good time.

The first two were relatively easy. I know plenty of musicians and was lucky enough to find two who were willing to help out. Blowing up balloons was no problem, though the helium made me light-headed after a while.

Things went pretty well, except the folks at Public Broadcasting didn't anyone to wear their character costumes. They had two: Curious George and some generic learning superhero who'd last about thirty seconds against any comic book character tougher than Archie.

"Do you think you could wear one of the suits?" They asked.

I looked around. Kids were coming in dressed as vampires and animals. I didn't see any adults.

"Yeah," I said. "Let me work out the stuff with the musicians first, but I'll wear one of the suits."

After I very quick rundown with my musical friends about what I needed for them to do, I went back to the Public Broadcasting table and said, "All right, let's do this. Give me the monkey suit."

The two women laughed, then one of them led me to the volunteers' lounge area. It was the closest place for me to slip on the costume away from the kids, who probably wouldn't believe a 5 foot ten cartoon monkey was real, but who probably wanted to believe nevertheless.

While I was crawling into the suit, one of the library volunteers looked over from the line of coffee pots and said snarkily, "Well, that's the fattest Curious George has ever been."

I looked up, a little startled. It's not often I get insulted while putting on over-sized monkey feet. There were a few people standing around. The woman helping me was mortified. Nobody was laughing.

Attempting to change the subject, another volunteer asked me if I was going to let the little kids hug me. The kids seemed to like to do that.

Looking back over at the coffee pots, I said, "Sure, if can get my fat little arms around them. I'd sign autographs, but with these fat fingers, it's hard enough to just hold a fork."

Nobody laughed at that either. It was just uncomfortable for everyone. I think I'd have flipped the lady off if I could have made the gloves hold the correct fingers down. That would have been something for her to tell her grandchildren: the day Curious George gave her the bird.

I got the head of the monkey suit on. Led like a mustard gas victim, I did the march through the exciting land of merchants and exhibits. I couldn't see a thing. I waved idiotically at everything and probably greeted the water fountain at some point. By the end, sweat was running down into my eyes. The helmet/head of the monkey heats up pretty quick.

After the parade, still mostly blind, I did another ten minutes or so hugging little kids and shaking hands. There were a lot of smiles. None of them seemed to mind that the little monkey from their storybooks was built more like a beer-guzzling gorilla. They were just glad to see Curious George. It was the best part of the gig.

The heckler and me didn't have much to say to each other after it was all done. I finished the day, but I've been fuming about it off and on for well over a week.

It's bothered me because in the juvenile cruelty of what she said there's truth. It wouldn't bug me if I disagreed. Wearily, I have to ratchet down my own self-loathing a little bit, try to address the problem and the cause. It's not as easy or as obvious as it sounds.

4 comments:

eclectic guy said...

All insult aside, this is what I love about your writing- the sheer painful honesty. We can all relate, dude!

What a fucking cow! I know the type of snide little bitch that works for these organizations. Petty and so full of contempt for all who are deemed beneath their importance. Believe me, inside that snotty little cow is more self-loathing than you could ever muster.

As far as the extra poundage, can I ever relate. I need to get out there and walk.

Jackie said...

Just so's you know, my family was there and nobody said CG looked fat. Funny? Yes. But fat? No.

primalscreamx said...

Actually, with the shoulders, I figured George looked very apelike. I would have done the whole ape walk thing --except my head would have fallen off, terrifying and disturbing children for years to come.

cassee01 said...

She needs to get out of the box. What a witch. Too bad none of the people that were there called her out on her rudeness, I know I would have.