Yesterday I got a panicky call from my boss while I was at lunch: “Can you get down here and wear the Roo suit?! Bring flyers too!”
Flash back to 2007 when SharkBoy and I are exploring the China pavilion at EPCOT. We come around a secluded corner and we’re standing in front of the rather short (nearly dwarfish!) dragon character from the movie Mulan.
The Character’s Minder: (utterly exasperated, probably had to remind people all day who this guy was) Mushu!
Me: “Right. Can we get a picture?”
Flash forward to a few days ago, while discussing marketing materials for our upcoming Australia Week presentation, I mentioned I would love to try on the company’s Roo suit as a precursor to my Disney trip. Just to see how the cast members at Walt Disney World do it.
I’ve always admired anyone who can put on a costume that will kill you within minutes through heat exhaustion.
While in the safety of a mask, it’s easy to become something apart from the norm. Something outside a desk job and 9-5 humdrum. I could see the attraction form those Plushie/Furries as that you become a more innocent persona. And while in this persona, you can see just how incredibly polarized Torontonians are when faced with a 7 ft tall kangaroo while walking home from work. Some laughed. Some interacted, even if it was just a wave and a smile. Some got excited and were chatty. But most chose to ignore me. Which baffles me. I use to tut-tut bstewart23’s constant griping about Toronto being an “un-fun” place to live. Or SharkBoy’s complaint that “Toronto certainly ain’t Montreal”.
They’re both completely right – Toronto is full of unfunny, desensitized people.
Case in point: In costume, I’m waving at a woman passing me by. Nothing, zero, nada – I could have touched her she passed by so close yet no acknowledgement. So I follow her to the corner (not an easy feat with size 23 feet) and stand close beside her. She turns to see who is in her personal space and screams. Did you not just see the 7ft tall kangaroo?
Then there was the guy on his phone, walking towards me. I do a little tail wagging dance and mock fingers-to-ear phone mime. “I’m being bothered by a giant rat,” he says into his phone, without a hint of humour or appreciation that I just took him out of his dull day. Bitter fuck.
And to the two dicks on lowrider bikes, zipping past me so fast that they got a good cold-cocking punch to my snout without me even knowing it was going to happen, I say go play in traffic. With blindfolds. And razor blades in your cheeks.
Don’t get me wrong, some people were great. I had a group of liquid lunch secretaries grab my arms and do a song and dance while one video-ed it on her cell phone. Wee! One woman screamed when I did a jog towards her with flyer in hand, reminding me that even my niece-in-law can’t even be near a costumed raccoon, let alone a real one. A actual Australian couple, fresh off the plane asked why I was in a coyote outfit.
There were kids. Lots of kids. All of them utterly frightened to come near me until I extended a hand. I was hugged repeatedly.
But for the most part, people would not look at me or acknowledge me. Okay this kind of reaction would probably happen in any major city but it’s sad, none the less. Are we so compartmentalized that a 7ft tall kangaroo costume can’t even rouse up a grin or a nod?