Ah, the mascot, beloved symbol of school spirit. It’s like being a cheerleader, except without the popularity and mini-skirts. Just the sight of that furry ambassador inspires pride, joy, and excitement. Who wouldn’t want to be so loved? Thus when the fateful day came when I was asked to don a giant bear suit for a special school event I said, “Haha. Are you kidding me?” But the usual girl had broken her leg, so I had little choice but to put on my big bear pants and delight the masses.
Once initiated into the world of costumed critters, I quickly learned:
4. You might not be able to move on your own
When I heard “mascot” I was envisioning range of movement something like:
Source: YouTube, Mascot Flip
I was so very very wrong. First of all, I had a small team of people to transform me into my character. Not because they were being nice, but because I couldn’t possibly do simple things like zip up my back or put on my own head. Unless you’re Iron Man with your robot handmaidens, being dressed by others isn’t that cool.
Once I was all bear-suited up, I realized that I could just about shuffle forward with my giant saucer feet. Hot tip: Mascot costumes don’t come with a mobility scooter. I had at least one to two people by my side the whole event to help me with such arduous tasks as staying upright and keeping my head from falling off.
3. You can’t see a damn thing
Every once in awhile I caught a heavily filtered glimpse of the world through the dark mesh mouth of my bear head. Of course school mascot costumes are not magically tailored to fit every (or any) poor sucker inside, so most of the time the bear’s maw did not line up with my eyes. I know there were children out there somewhere. I thought I felt some hugging my tree trunk legs. Since I couldn’t really lift my feet, I doubt I trampled many. Mostly I tried to stand in one place without knocking anything or anyone over and just waved stupidly.
2. No one can hear you scream
You’re not allowed to talk. Or cry. It doesn’t sound that bad until hour three when you’re listening to the echoes inside your (massive) head.
1. The inside of a mascot costume is the vilest place on Earth
I’m not going to beat around the bush. It was hot as balls inside that bear suit. Every tiny movement is exercise. You’re panting just standing still. It’s not long before you’re drenched in sweat. You are trapped in a dark, hot, damp, foul, smelly place. In short, it’s probably like actually being in the belly of a bear. Assuming the bear is of the children’s tale variety where they don’t rip your limbs off first or, you know, chew.
And then you wonder When was the last time this furry tomb was dry cleaned?
There is no future as a theme park character for me. You’ll not see me dancing on the street corner in a chicken costume, nor will I dash down a sideline as some anthropomorphic animal with pom poms. I emerged from the giant bear suit red-faced, breathless, and certain that the one experience was quite enough. Unless I get to use a t-shirt gun. Then I might consider it.