My first job after college was as a rude little gingerbread boy in a touring children’s theater company. We did three or four shows a day across Virginia, DC, and Maryland. I wore a costume with adorable fake raisins trailing down the front, a little hood with faux icing on it and burst out of a plywood oven.
It was my job to escape from a large, sweating woman in a fox costume, and usually I did. Sometimes my costume would be damp in the dryer from washing it the night before, and I would dry it in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time. I got sick, ran out of money, and tried to sell my plasma to make up the gap but nothing worked. I was doomed to become some sort of indie-rock influenced Krusty the Clown.
Every time I smell apple juice, vinyl nap mats or canned chicken soup I just want to run right into traffic and let an 18-wheeler carry my tortured soul back home. I like little kids when I can get to know them, but seeing hundreds of them in a day just reduces them into this shrieking, messy mass for and I really don’t like the person I start becoming.
If you’re doing something as a joke you’re still doing it, and you might end up kicking a kid in the face. I wish I could say that I learned that from that experience, but really it took about ten years.
I told this story at The Moth at Housing Works bookstore in SoHo back in early September, 2010. It was possibly the most fun I’ve had all year and definitely made the whole experience worthwhile.