When I was 17, I worked at Showbiz Pizza. Do you remember Showbiz? Like Chuck E Cheese but with the animatronic band the Rockafire EXPLOSION, featuring Billy Bob the Bear, and repetitive renditions of "Hooked On a Feeling" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" among other 70s pop classics.
One duty we had as "party hosts" was to put on the Billy Bob the Bear suit and walk up and down the restaurant greeting the kids. I can stretch to 5 feet tall on a good posture day...maybe...so I was a particularly petite and accessible bear, easily brought to the ground by a little boy's soccer team. Great job. Good times.
The suit smelled a little like pee (uhhhh WHY???) and very much like B.O. and the tiny plastic fan in the nose seemed to be a cruel and taunting joke. There was a fur suit that covered your arms, legs, and torso; fur paw booties that fit over your shoes; fur paws for your hands, and an enormous plastic bear head that had metal snaps to connect it to the suit.
When a little kid had a party, the party host would dim the lights, get a spotlight on the table and bring out the cake with Billy Bob. Billy Bob would hug the birthday kid and wave his furry paws during the singing of Happy Birthday, then scurry back to the changing closet so the curtains would open on the Rockafire Explosion, complete with Billy Bob, singing the Beatle's "Birthday".
I had a crush on the team leader, who happened to be party host one day when I had bear suit duty. In the tradition of 2nd grade boys, I could only express my crush by bad and attention seeking behavior. He brought me/Billy Bob out for the party and the spotlight was on me. At first I just goosed him...multiple times...while we walked. He took that in stride. This little birthday girl was a wee beribboned tulle and lace and ruffled Latina princess. Maybe 4 years old. When the party host lit the candles on her birthday cake Billy Bob leaned over and blew them out. This happened twice. The party host's frustration was mounting but his cool did not crack. He lit the candles a third time and Billy Bob leeeaned over to blow them out...and the snaps on the head gave way and Billy Bob's enormous sweaty fur covered head plopped right into that ice cream birthday cake, splashing a bit up on the birthday girl. The spotlight was on us, clearly showing my messy ponytail and very surprised "What have I done?" face. The crowd hushed right up and then out of the silence came a sweet, pure little voice, "Billy Bob's a GIRL!" The cake covered head was jammed rapidly onto my shoulders - backwards - and I was shoved out of the party room.
There's no moral to the story or anything. I wasn't especially punished for my jerk behavior (Because 17. Because minimum wage.) and I did eventually end up with that guy. But when I left my writing class tonight, having committed to a blog post every other day for a week, I started thinking about being hooked on a feeling- which inevitably made me think of my time gigging with the Rockafire EXPLOSION. (ROCKSTAR!) I'm glad I am taking this class. It's cool and fun and awesome, and helps me remember not to forget to be (awesome). DFTBA, y'all.
*BJ Thomas Hooked on a Feeling