This is one of those rare days when I can't think of a single basketball-related thing to write about. Mostly because I'm still lamenting a grisly NFL weekend
in which my favorite teams all suffered agonizing losses and my fantasy squad went belly-up against Evil Ted's team. So, while fruitlessly brainstorming, I decided to say thanks. Thanks to all of you who read, and comment, and submit ideas. Thanks for your kind words, for correcting me, for challenging my ideas, and -- what the hell -- thanks even to the Kobe fans who stick around and occasionally threaten my life. I really, genuinely and sincerely appreciate all of you. I may not get the chance to respond to every comment and e-mail, but that doesn't mean I don't love you crazy bastards (and bastardettes) and enjoy hearing from you.
So this is me giving back. First with a story, and then an offer. The story will hopefully amuse you. A while back, I spent a few years playing the Easter Bunny at an annual event for underprivileged children. Originally, I was responsible only for helping to plan and set up the event, but we ran into a hitch: Nobody wanted to be the Easter Bunny. Now, I learned a long time ago to always volunteer for the tasks everybody else avoids. That way, nobody can ever accuse you of trying to avoid the crappy jobs, and, more importantly, the people who do the crappy jobs usually get out of doing pretty much anything else. Dressing up as the Easter Bunny meant I didn't have to help in any other area of the event. No planning, so setting things up, no taking them down. I figured I would show up, be adored by one and all, and then leave. Easy enough, no?
The first problem was that I'm 6'3". As you would probably suspect if you ever thought about such things, they don't make a lot of six-foot, three-inch Easter Bunny costumes. So, the first year, we had to special order an extra-large costume at the last minute, and it barely made it on time. The first time I put the costume on, I immediately noticed two things. First, it was hot. Like, really hot. Imagine crawling fully-clothed into one of those thermal sleeping bags that are rated for -60 degree weather and then walking around in it for a few hours. Yeah. Second, I looked flat-out creepy. I mean, 6'3" is small to Shaq, but to an eight-year-old, I'm huge. And, now, dressed as a freaky grinning rabbit. I was actually afraid of scaring the kiddies.
The day came and, once the festivities were well under way, I was led into crowd. The kids started cheering and screamed "The Easter Bunny!" They weren't afraid of me at all, which I thought was a good thing. At first. But I soon wished that they were scared, at least a little, because these kids were mean. They immediately came over and started challenging me. "You aren't the Easter Bunny!" "He's a fake!" "Rip off his tail!" "I'm gonna tear your head off!" And they weren't kidding. I started getting grabbed, punched, pushed, and kicked. The parents in attendance and the other people running the event tried to get them under control, but the adults were outnumbered three-to-one. There was no way to police them all.
One little girl ran up and stared me down. (It's important to note, at this point, that in order to beat the heat I was wearing only a pair of boxer shorts under the costume.) She then reached between my legs and grabbed a tiny fistful of my junk, after which she turned around and announced to the other kids, "He's a man! I can feel
him!" That was a low moment for me, no question about it. And my friends who where there tormented me with "I can feel
him!" jokes for quite some time afterward.
After a struggle that lasted about a half an hour, the kids came down off of their sugar high or whatever it was, and we settled down to take pictures. Like this one. The little girls were great, but that little monster on the left was trying to tear out a tuft of fur. And yes, he managed to yank out some of my leg hair in the process. In case you don't know, that doesn't feel good.Ah, children. I hate 'em.
There was one little boy who was like the gang leader or something. He kept putting together small raiding parties to try and knock me over or snatch the head off my costume. He probably got in more punches and kicks than all the rest of the kids combined. I swear, I almost picked him up and threw him out the window a few times. Then, the oddest thing happened. As the party was winding down, he came up to me entirely on his own, eyes filled with tears, and said, "Thanks, Easter Bunny!" And then he hugged me. Have you ever seen a look of "WTF?!" on a costumed bunny? Well, you're about to.Uh, that's great, kid. Now get off me.
So I guess everything more or less turned out okay. I guess I should have sort of expected it. We live in an increasingly cynical society. I can assure you, based on this experience, that that cynicism isn't limited to adults. But at least with the kids, you can still get through to them. They hated and distrusted me at first, but by the end of the party they loved me.
Okay. That's the story. Now here's the offer. I'd like to do a Q&A post on Friday. So leave comments here or e-mail me directly with questions you'd like me to answer. They can be about basketball, or movies, or pop culture, or whatever. Please try to avoid overly personal questions, though, because unless you're Gwen Stefani, I'm not telling you my favorite sexual position. And if you are Gwen Stefani, call me.
Labels: Easter Bunny, fan appreciation