During my recent interview with The Chinchilla, I was asked: "Would you ever wear a giant chinchilla mascot costume? Under what circumstance(s) would you ever do it?"
The question first made me chuckle. Then, it reminded me of this story. It happened a generation ago, and I hadn't thought of it in years. The story still makes me laugh, but mostly it's a terrific illustration into how I think.
In the mid-to-late '80s I worked part-time at the local public library. I worked in the Audio-Visual Department during a time that audio-visual equipment was still as large as a suitcase and sometimes took a dolly to transport. So, I enjoyed getting out of the department, and hanging out with some of the other library geeks who were there at the time. I learned a lot about the world, and a lot about me.
Two important lessons I learned: (a) I have very little ego, and (b) if I was an actor, I'd be a method actor.
Librarians from the Children's Library walked onto my floor one day, and politely asked me for a favor. Seems they were having a story hour the next day for about 40 kids, and the theme involved chickens. One of the librarians had a chicken costume, but wasn't big enough to wear it correctly.
They asked if I'd wear it during the story hour, and I agreed. I'm pretty shy, but it seemed fun. It was for the kids, after all, and they promised I'd have to do nothing but walk around and cluck from time to time as the story was read.
The story hour was fun, and the kids seemed to have a good time. As the librarian finished, she closed the book and said:
Librarian: "That's why it's important to read. Tell the kids more about that, Mr. Chicken."
Me: [wings flapping dramatically] "Bock, bock!" [Said with excitement]
Librarian: "Tell the kids about why it's important to read, Mr. Chicken."
Me: [confused, although it's hidden behind the mask] "... ... Bock"
Librarian: "In English. Tell the kids in English."
I freaked out! All that I could think of was this singular thought:
Chickens don't talk!
I refused to speak, but continued to cluck. I clucked with the excitement and rhythm that meant clearly: "Read children! Enjoy the knowledge and information that comes from books, it will help you become better educated and informed people. Read, kids. Read like the wind!"
But what came out? "Bock, bock bock..."
After the kids left I took off the head and beak. "Why did you do that? I asked. All the librarian did was smile.
And it was a crooked, evil smile.