Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Art of Being Ridiculous

There really aren't a whole lot of things I won't do.

Except maybe eat bugs or jump out of an airplane without a parachute. What I really mean is that I don't get embarrassed easily. In fact, sometimes I do embarrassing things just for fun! With the help of my friend Drizella, my anything-but-beautiful face can be found in thousands of people's Walt Disney World vacation albums, I have ran five miles through a crowded boardwalk wearing a large sombrero, and I also won the crown of homecoming queen in high school for doing a ridiculous impression of a bad American Idol audition in front of my entire student body. My comfort to do such nonsense things shows me that I really don't take myself too seriously.

And I am ok with that. While some like to live their lives inside their comfortable box, I like to break through that box wearing a ball gown and a sombrero, singing Michael Jackson "Bad" at the top of my lungs.

Or perhaps in my current position, dressed as a giant, pink fish.

I was recently hired to portray a pink fish named "Bubbles" at a nearby theme park for the Halloween season. When I was offered the position I first painfully swallowed my disappointment for not getting cast as the mermaid (dream destroyed!) and then excitedly accepted the position. It has been two years since I last performed and it didn't hurt that the job was going to pay more than I have ever made per hour.

The position involves meet and greets, photos with guests and small performances within the park. I've truly been having a blast even despite the heavy costume and five layers of paint and glitter on my face. While the position thus far has been only inside the park with guests, this week I got the chance to do something truly special and well...pretty unforgettable.

As a public relations push, the company has been sending some of us undersea characters out into the community for special events. When I received word that I was chosen to appear on a local news segment I was ecstatic. I had never even been in a news studio and now I was going to be on camera!...in a fish costume. But that was beside the point.

The day came and a small group of us vaned over to the news studio and quickly got dressed in our very glittery and not-at-all-tiny costumes. We squeezed through the doors of the news studio building and waited with boiling anticipation. They finally guided us into the live studio, which was quite small and not at all built for people dressed as fish. We waited silently for the anchors to get to a commercial break.

After spotting us, the female anchor was immediately distracted and admitted to viewers that she was a little startled at the moment because two large fish had just walked into the studio. In true news anchor fashion, her partner grinned and nodded his head assuring the viewers at home that they would be right back.

This was it! Our moment to shine was almost upon us...and then the news producer walked up and said, "I'm sorry guys, we don't have room for you." She was obviously just talking about our large costumes and how crowded it was in the studio so we just stood there with expectant smiles waiting for her to tell us to just wait outside. "...in the segment," she finished. There was another long, awkward pause as we waited for her to crack and say, "Just kidding!"

Only, she didn't.

"Oh," we all muttered quietly and somewhat confused. With a "sorry about that," and "have a good day," she sent us out the door with only our disappointment to take with us. We waddled back to the van and began to de-fish when our PR representative ran out and told us not to get undressed yet. They were going to try and fit us in still but we needed to wait for further instructions.

When they did call us back in to the studio, the look of confusion on the news producer's face revealed that she was not aware that we had been invited back. Unable to escape even more awkwardness, she let out a "Whyyyyy are you back?" Just then, another girl showed up behind her informing her that they were going to try and get us into the weather segment. Really?

Without wasting a second, the news producer pointed. "You. Pink fish. We can take you. What are you?"

"I'm a fish dressed as a princess"
"What is your name?"
"My name is Bubbles."
(I just love adult conversations)

She pulled me back into the live studio and said, "Ok stand with Kimi and she will tell you what to do." So Kimi, the very nice weather reporter, led me to the green screen through the maze of extremely expensive cameras and cords. She then said, "Ok so I am going to do a quick weather report and why don't you just swim around behind me for a few seconds."

Um. What?

"Just walk back and forth behind you?
"Yes but not too long because you will block the images on the screen."
"Ok like 10 seconds?"
"No! Oh goodness, no!"
"How about five seconds?"
"More like three."

Three seconds to walk about in an extremely limited space in an extremely limited and large costume. I could just see it: a new YouTube viral video, "Giant pink fish takes out weather reporter on live news." Without even having a minute to think we were live and swam my very best back and fourth on that green screen, waving my fins at all the confused folks watching at home.

Kimi thankfully made mention of me on camera so that I didn't appear to be a crazy person who snuck in through the back door, but I didn't change the fact that it was probably one of the most random things I have ever done.

When I walked out of the studio my fellow fishes greeted me with smiles of approval and said they got to watch the whole thing on the screens backstage. I laughed at the whole experience but then began to feel that pit in my stomach that I get sometimes when I realize I have just made a fool out of myself. Maybe it would have been more fun if I had been dressed as a pretty princess, or mermaid, or if my first appearance on the news was to promote my new book or just anything more ordinary. I just made myself look completely ridiculous in front of thousands of people, and for what?

And then I remember, because that is who I am. I am Mandi. A unique and bizarre individual who is totally comfortable in the skin I am in. And for now, I am a bright and beautiful fish named Bubbles and I am loving every moment of it. I could choose to live my life in a comfortable, socially acceptable box but that wouldn't give me a very good story, now would it?

With Kimi after my three seconds of fame
While we all didn't make it on the news, we did make it on the weather girl's Instagram!


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