As I noted in previous weeks in this blog, 15-20 years ago I wrote a regular series of essays, most intended to be humorous. This one was written in the late 1990s about an incident that occurred in 1974 — almost prehistory!
This one was written down as a result of several of my other stories, including the one about ripping my pants, I had several people inquire if I was embarrassed at that time. Well, some, but not really. As many people have discovered over time, I don’t embarrass easily. or by the things that take others aback. As my friend Becky has observed, I don’t need to drink to lose my inhibitions, because I don’t really have that many inhibitions.
Part of this undoubtedly stems from my sense of humor. I used to be willing to do almost anything for laughs. It also is probably related to my overall philosophy. I am aware of the general niceties of etiquette, and try to follow them. However, like many other proscriptions on behavior, they are guidelines and not absolute writ. Being able to step outside the lines is clearly a survival trait. Some people don’t learn this until they get married or have kids, and some never learn it. I seem to have been born with it. It helps my work in security, as well as dealing with being a klutz.
The result is that I’ve been willing to try several things that others have not, and this has led to some of my exploits. If anything, those have then strengthened my willingness to take risks. I’ve never been very self-conscious about much of anything except my dancing and initiating romantic relationships, neither of which seem to work very well.
I don’t dance. Every time I have ever tried to dance, people around me have attempted to wrestle me to the floor, put a pad between my teeth, and summon medical assistance for a grand mal seizure. Back when the “Funky Chicken ” was a dance craze, I clearly had the “crazed” part down, but not the funk (as to chicken, perhaps). That is still the case, unfortunately: I’m out of luck, and somewhat self-conscious about it.
As far as romance goes, the misfires there could be the subject of a whole book. Supposedly, women find intelligence, drive and humor sexy. I’d hazard to say I have more than the average amount of all three but from my experience, those qualities are helpful only if is coupled with looking like Antonio Banderas or David Beckham. What always happened to me (and still does, actually) was that I was really successful in reminding women of their uncles or big brothers. Unfortunately(?), projecting that image is unhelpful because none of the women I’ve been interested in find incest appealing.
But I digress. Herewith I will recount a tale of overexposure around an Easter in my youth.
One aspect of being a little gullible and not at all concerned about appearances, is that I will dress in costume for a good cause. The first real case of this worthy of the tale, outside Halloween, was in high school. I was a senior and president of the student council. The student government was participating in a community spring fair where the money raised was going to a charity — I think it was Easter Seals. Two of the other officers (on whom I had crushes that never went anywhere, because neither was into the idea of dating outside their species) got the bright idea that we should have someone dress up as the Easter Bunny at the fair. We’d get a Polaroid camera, and charge $1 to have little kids get their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny. We’d raise a lot of money for charity, and the kids would be entertained. Clearly, this was a great idea, until the topic turned to who would be the Bunny. All eyes turned to me.
It took a little convincing (well, darn little, actually; each knew she could talk me into near anything, and often did, but never anything I really wanted). However, I accepted on the condition that the others in the group had to find and obtain a bunny suit. I figured I was safe, because the fair was a week away, and where could they possibly find a bunny suit?
Where indeed. I never did discover where, but they found one. Saturday morning of the fair, they showed up with a complete suit: A huge paper maché head with big ears. White terrycloth top. 3 pairs of white, somewhat threadbare terrycloth pants. (3 pairs!?) And a box of cotton-ball puff tails with Velcro to attach to the pants.
With a resigned sigh, I donned the costume and took my seat, awaiting the first child. Who was terrified of this huge white figure with big ears and large teeth. Whose mother insisted he be put kicking and screaming in my lap. Whereupon he kicked me in a spot sensitive both to bunnies and to men in bunny suits. The paper maché head continued to grin while I momentarily lost consciousness inside the suit. My “whoof” of pain was muffled and baffled by the echo inside the head, and undoubtedly came out as some kind of cute bunny noise. Mom picked the little terror up, warned him “The bunny will bite you if you do that again!” (adding to his panic and terror) and put him back in my lap. I could only grunt through the waves of pain, so I couldn’t do anything to reassure him as he cowered in the shadow of my ears. So, with mom covering his escape route, and me holding tightly to his legs to keep from a repeat of the kick, the flashbulb went off and he proceeded to show me why the costume had come with extra pants.
He peed his pants. And my bunny pants. And on into my real pants under the rabbit pants. Not just a little, either. The kid must have been to a keg party prior to coming to see the Easter Bunny. Me? I was just being a big dumb bunny noticing that my leg was getting very warm. The kid is going “Uh-oh” and his mother is starting to apologize profusely. It takes a while for the reality to sink in, but suddenly I jump up and swear. Whereupon the mother gets very offended, grabs her kid’s hand, and walks off in a huff.
So, one kid into the morning, and we had to shut the booth. Karen and Donna (the Bunny’s attractive helpers and co-conspirators) were laughing so hard, they nearly wet themselves too (would have served them right) as the Easter Bunny retired backstage to change.
Backstage, with the head off, I surveyed the damage. A huge wet spot on my jeans. The rabbit pants were clearly wet and stained, too. So, I changed the rabbit pants and left my jeans off to dry. After all — I had the rabbit pants on, and there was no sense spending the morning smelling like I was a rabbit that hadn’t been house trained.
Back into the breech I went. At least two hours went by before the second child had an accident. This time, it was a little girl. Instead of screaming and kicking, though, she was petrified. She didn’t move. She didn’t say a thing. Her mother put her in my lap and kept saying “Go ahead, dear.” After the picture, she said “Wait a moment — my little girl wants to give the Easter Bunny something.” I figured it was a kiss, as most of the little girls had been kissing my paper maché cheek. So I bent my head her way.
Apparently, the sight of a huge head with big teeth making a lunge for her was more than she could bear. In a clear sign that physiologists don’t actually field-test their ideas, her “fight-flight” reflex clearly became the “fight-flight-pee gallons and gallons” reflex and we had to close the booth again. This time, because I was not wearing pants underneath, it streamed down my leg and into my shoe. I reemerged as the Easter bunny wearing only a T-shirt (it was hot under that costume!), undies, and socks, inside the dratted Bunny costume. We put up a sign saying “no pictures in the Easter Bunny’s lap” as we were now on the last pair of dry pants. We figured if the kids stood next to me, the worst they could do is make the tile a little wet.
Sometime during all of this we also discovered why there was a box of spare tails. Every time I got up to take a break, some smart aleck kid would run up, grab my tail, and run off. I couldn’t look around to watch for them, either — if I turned my head it only went around inside the rabbit costume and I saw the inside of the cheek; if I turned too much, I hit the cheek and my glasses would fall off inside the head. Plus, I couldn’t run in the suit to chase the kids. So, I lost a lot of tails and the young ladies “helping” me took great fun in slapping new ones on to the Velcro in the back, often harder than necessary.
When we got down to the last two tails, we decided to be a little more conservative and put safety pins in the one on the 3rd pair of pants. I went out and sat down.
Everything was going fine for a while. The kids stood next to me for their pictures, and there were no more accidents. The tail stayed put despite small tugs until my helpers or the kids’ parents could disengage the fingers associated with the tugs. I thought we might finally make it through the day intact.
Then, in the line, appeared a comely young lady. I had thought she might be the mother or older sister of one of the kids in line. She was in her mid-20s, I would guess, and not a student at our high school. In fact, inquiries afterwards revealed that no one knew who she was — no one I asked had ever seen her before (or after).
When she got to the head of the line, it was clear she was alone. She also clearly had a plan. Either someone planned it as a put-up job, or she really liked guys in rabbit suits. She gave the helpers $5 instead of the $1 for a picture and said she wanted a picture in the Bunny’s lap. Considering that she was not likely to pee on me, and she was cute enough that *I* probably would have paid to have her in my lap, I agreed.
She nestled up against me, instructed me to put my arms around her, and struck a pose that made a great picture. I’m not sure what the kids thought, but I liked it. But it didn’t end there. She proceeded to start whispering in the Easter Bunny’s mouth (she knew that the visible ears were about a foot above my real ears). What she whispered was what she wanted the Easter Bunny to bring her and do for her for Easter. I must say, I was as transfixed then as the kids I had in my lap were earlier. I’m sure if my face was visible I would have looked like a deer caught in headlights on a country road. My lap was full of warm, lovely, young woman and she had ideas of what to do with marshmallow chicks and chocolate rabbit ears that I have heard neither before nor since. I had thought it was hot in the costume before, but now it was unbearable — not only were my glasses steamed up, but my eyeballs were clouding over, and my brain was fogging inside my skull. I’m sure she could tell she was having an effect on the Bunny and she enjoyed it, so she continued. After what seemed an eternity, she stood up, demurely straightened whatever it was she was wearing, and told the kids in line that if they behaved, she was sure the Easter Bunny would make their wishes come true, because she was sure I’d make hers come true. Then she walked off.
Karen and Donna must have gotten some clue that I was in some distress (perhaps my plaintive whimpering noises), so they decided to close the booth for a short break. I decided I wanted to remove the rabbit head, chase after that woman, and let her know that as the Bunny’s chief helper, I would start right then and there to address her list of requests. I got up and started walking to the changing room, keeping my eyes on where the young lady was.
A little boy who had been waiting in line decided to make his move at that time. He ran up and grabbed my tail. I tried to turn, but only saw the inside of the paper maché. I did hear his mother, however, run up and tell him to let go of it. I assumed she had pried his little fingers off, and besides, I saw my Easter treat walking further away. So, I took a large step forward.
As near as we were able to determine later, the following things happened in roughly the same few milliseconds:
- the mother gave the little boy a big tug to pull him away from the bunny
- I took a big stride forward.
- the tail, securely pinned to the pants, stayed with the pants
- the seams of the pants, weakened from repeated washings in (undoubtedly) urine-tainted water, gave way
- my feet, bare except for the terrycloth rabbit feet, failed to find appropriate purchase on the floor
- the paper maché head was quite heavy, and significantly altered my center of gravity
The result of all the above was that I ended up sprawled snout-first on the floor, bloodying my nose on the inside of the costume, with the back half of the pants hanging from this kid’s grasp and my underwear on display for all to see. A deafening silence descended on the scene….or maybe I simply was unconscious. Thankfully, Karen or Donna (whichever had the camera) did not snap a picture. Instead, they helped me up and took me to the changing room.
There, we tried to salvage what we could of the costume. I quickly got dressed in my street clothes (somewhat fragrant with the odor of urea), stopped the bleeding from my nose, and exited to look for the vision who had so distracted me. Of course, she had disappeared, and no one I talked to knew who she was or where she had gone.
We lost the deposit on the bunny suit because the head had sustained some damage to the snout in the fall, the pants had been ripped, most of the tails were gone, and the whole thing needed dry cleaning. The result? We only netted $3 for charity, and I can never look at a chocolate rabbit again without the strangest. inappropriate feelings.
Almost 29 years to the day after this happened, I received email from Paul, the faculty member who was the advisor to the student government. He had been searching the WWW for former students and tried my name. He wasn’t sure it was me until he read the above story. Then he dove into his files and sent me a picture we took of him, his wife, and me in the bunny outfit…before the wear and tear on the suit! Wow! I looked pretty good, for a rabbit.