Student reflects on his experience as school mascot
THE SANTA CLARA
February 6, 2014
Imagine walking around in an outfit made of synthetic fur that blankets you with enough warmth to last a night in Siberia, except that you are in a sweaty gym filled with drunk college students, sugar-fueled middle-schoolers and overly friendly toddlers.
Now imagine that despite these conditions, you have to dance, take pictures with strangers you can barely see and keep a positive attitude during a game where your team is losing by 10, all in addition to being unable to talk.
If your imagination is sufficient, you now have an idea of what it is like behind the mask of Bucky the Bronco. I wore the mascot costume and despite the hellish conditions I just laid out, it was not that bad.
First off, I had no training at all. The time between finding out I was going to be in the suit and actually being in the suit was about 24 hours.
I interacted with young children the most. They were either terrified or delighted by my presence. If terrified, they cowered behind the nearest adult until they were certain that I wasn’t going to take them back to my lair. If delighted, they attempted to high-five me into submission.
Happy youngsters were definitely my biggest fans, even though I nearly kicked several especially puny kids because I couldn’t see them, which would have put a real damper on the evening.
Middle-schoolers either treated me like I was a celebrity and yelled for my attention like reporters, or they made fun of the muscles that the mascot had, which oddly hurt my feelings.
Parents were overly grateful for pictures. I’m guessing this was because of the pity they felt for me.
College girls liked to take pictures they could post to Instagram, which I didn’t understand because it was a picture with a sweaty guy in a horse costume.
In fact, many jokes have been made about how sweaty people get when they are inside the suits.
They are all true.
My hair was dripping wet after 15 minutes. Every time I took off the head, it was like going from the Vietnam jungles to evergreen forests of Oregon.
The job of the mascot seems easy, but two hours is a long time to be on display. When I didn’t know what to do, I would just do an over-the-top reaction to whatever was happening, and it seemed to play well with the crowd.
Wardrobe malfunctions are a whole different story with this costume. Seeing the suit without anyone in it is depressing. It’s a lifeless corpse with an unblinking head staring off into the cold void of eternity.
Once when I looked up, my throat was revealed from underneath the costume and a kid touched it. It was easily the most violated I’ve ever felt.
Another time, I accidentally elbowed a man in the head who was sitting court-side. Despite my profuse apologies, he stared me down with furious anger. I’ve never hated anyone more than I hated him for hating the mascot.
I imagined losing all respect from my future teenage children when they find out about this.
People, for the most part, had no idea how to react to me. They basically just repeated anything I did at them.
Someone asked me if I could talk, and I didn’t really how to how to respond.
When I would answer questions, I had three responses. I would either nod my head “Yes” or “No,” or shrug my shoulders to mysteriously answer open-ended questions.
One kid showed me a Bucky the Bronco stuffed animal that he bought. He was so excited to show me and when I flipped out in true mascot fashion, he was so happy that it made my night.
All in all, it was an interesting feeling of freedom, because I was no longer myself: I was the mascot. The shield of anonymity meant I could do whatever I wanted and not feel the slightest bit of shame.
I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to become “the mascot guy,” but on the occasional evening, I am willing to earn my minimum wage by putting on a furry suit and acting a fool for a few hours.
Hell, it’s better than making french fries.
Contact John Flynn at email@example.com.