Friday, May 25, 2007

The Chicken Dance

Before moving to Alberta in 1998 I was employed for six years as a clown. I attended many children’s parties, both as a clown and as many other characters. My specialty was “Singing Telegrams” which were mainly done for adults. I would usually surprise them at work, compliments of their co-workers.

One of the most common characters at the time for children (and even sometimes adults) was Barney the purple dinosaur. It seemed as though whenever I would do this character, some little boy would kick or punch me in the groin. Little boys were always the worst. They were more interested in attacking me as opposed to the girls who always wanted to hug the character. Although if you think about it, if you met Barney in person, wouldn’t you want to punch him in the groin too, I know I would!

Throughout the six years I had a few costume malfunctions. Usually caused by some little boy who wanted to see how much force it would take to rip off the Pink Panther’s tail or how hard he would have to punch me before I would knock him “accidentally” up the side of my head. “Sorry madam I couldn’t see the little fellow. It’s very hard to see out of this mask!”

Of course going to strange places dressed in a costume when I did not have peripheral vision was sometimes dangerous. High schools were usually the most dangerous. After the following incident we gave up schools all together.

I had a singing telegram to do in a high school at lunch time. A teacher was supposed to meet me outside at my van and escort me in to the cafeteria and back out again. When he did not show I proceeded on my own. Before reaching the door some idiot tried to catch my costume, a large white gorilla, on fire with a lighter. Luckily for me the material was flame retardant and did not catch but did leave a burn mark. Someone also threw a lit cigarette at me which got caught in the fur and stayed there until I took off the suit. I made it into the school and a teacher met me inside and brought me to the cafeteria and then abandoned me. I completed my performance and left the cafeteria. Walking through the hallway some guy pushed me into a locker hard enough to cause me to fall down. Soon as I hit the floor, he gave me a kick to the ribs. The guy thought this was very funny. Luckily the padding from the suit and my arm took most of the blow, but I was furious. As I knew what he looked like but he did not know me from my costume, I went back with the principal and then had him charged with assault. He was also kicked out of school as he was the school bully and was on his last leg.

That was probably the worst incident which happened to me during my “party” employment. I did have a very embarrassing incident which happened the week before coming to Alberta on my last day of work. I still believe I was set up for this one.

I had to go to Memorial University’s Breezeway Club and sing “Happy Birthday” to a girl in the middle of the dance floor dressed as a big yellow chicken. I arrived at the club, which at that time was one of the biggest dance clubs in Newfoundland. Someone met me at my van and escorted me in, as was planned. The bar was packed with wall to wall people and we had trouble getting through the crowd. My escort had me by the hand and we eventually made it to the middle of the dance floor. I was brought to the Birthday girl and the dance music stopped and everyone became amazingly quiet.

I started singing “Happy Birthday to you” and just as I had finished the last line, my worse fears in this business happened; the girl grabbed the head of my costume and made a run for it. After a few seconds of realizing what happened I took off in pursuit of my head! As I started fighting my way through the crowd with everyone laughing at me, I heard the DJ speak. “He’s a little request for our yellow friend on the dance floor, The Chicken Dance”

So here I was, running through a wall of people dressed in all yellow from my neck down trying to catch the girl who took my head as “The Chicken Dance” song played in the background. I was unable to catch the girl, so dejected and embarrassed I walked back to my van all along getting laughs from people outside the club.

Just as I had taken off the rest of my chicken suit the girl came by the van to return my head and to apologize. Even if the apology was though laughter, I forgave her. She gave me a hug and I thought to myself, I’m glad I am moving to Alberta!

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