Angry Rain, OldMan Car, and Tiger Mascot Suits

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I’m so excited that many of you (who might be new to my blog) came by this week to see what Sharyn and Kelly expressed about breast cancer and the beauty of fall earlier this week. Those posts have been shared a LOT (like more than anything I’ve ever written, which leaves me scratching my tilted head’s furrowed brow…), so if you haven’t seen them, please check them out — other people were clearly impressed and you’ll see why if you didn’t read them yet.

I’m not gonna talk about the debate last night other than to say this: Obama needed coffee and Mittney needed a collar. I’ve never seen a sitting president look so uninterested in repeating his term and I’ve never seen an opponent so hard pressed to take it from him.

Tuesday it rained most of the morning here. And I don’t mean the morning that required sunlight. I mean the morning that began at midnight and ended at noon. Most of the rain was average, normal lovely rain. In fact, the rain we woke to was that kind. When it was time to leave for our daily walk to school however, the rain had asserted itself into a demonic and dominating death rain. The kind of rain that makes you afraid it will personally injure you when it makes impact on you. The kind of rain that mocks umbrellas as it shreds them. Yeah, that kind of rain. So the kids were reluctant to walk in it; the Murph definitely was not interested and because we were all standing inside the house yelling at each other about the rain and looking out the storm window at its fury, the BreadWinner said he’d take the boys to school in his OldMan Car.

Phew!

The OldMan Car is a Toyota Avalon. He loves it because it’s massive, larger than a BMW 7-series (and boy, nothing like spouting off that statistic impresses the hip-replacement population, if they can hear you). I say, why wait? Why not get the most popular vehicle for all post-cardiac ablation patients while you’re still in your 40s? Let’s just go ahead and shop ourselves crazy for canes, triple-strength reading glasses on chains and glucosamine. No matter. It’s what he drives. And he likes it. Truth be told, it’s very comfortable and surprisingly quick and nimble. Like Geriatric Jack-be-Quick on a juicer binge.

Here is an OldMan Car in its natural habitat: tropical golf resort. Note: the graying temples on the man walking in and the slight middle-aged paunch and obligatory short hair on the aging woman before him, who must be resort staff or his great aunt. Our house looks nothing like this and our OldMan Car has scratches from errant trash cans, bicycle handles and scooters.

When I’m driving my tank around town with the Things, we see endless varieties of silver foxes barely visible above the steering wheels in OldMan Cars of all vintages. Just one more: the Toyota Avalon is usually the car your dead great grandmother leaves you in her will because her husband left it to her when he died. On the golf course. In his madras shorts. And the white kilties.

Unless… you’re the guy who picks one out in the parking lot of the local dealership when you’re 40.

Anyway, the kids piled in and enjoyed the ride in the massive back seat which reclines, which is a great feature for when you get a case of the vapors and you need to lie down when your smelling salts bring you back. HAY! I’m not ageist – I’m just sayin’ let’s give this middle-aged thing a shot before I have to go shopping for lace doilies, stacked heels and loose stockings, k?

When it was time for me to go to yoga, I maintained my fear of the intense rain. When yoga was over, it was still raining although it was more of an agitated rain than rage rain. So I braved it and went to Wegman’s where I love to shop and I bought food that makes me feel like how Jesus used to eat: hummus, pita, veggies, fruit and olives. Note to self (which I’ve ignored plenty): don’t shop when hungry.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Yesterday was National Walk to School Day (NWSD). Our school started participating in the event back in 2008 when RICK! was PTA president and I was her major-domo. Our school mascot is a tiger. The school didn’t have a tiger suit, it spent its funds on education. Whatever…. I thought that was a crime, so with our PTA budget in hand, I proposed we spend $150 to buy a cartoony tiger suit and giant styrofoam tiger head I saw on eBay from an anonymous woeful factory in China. Proposal approved, suit arrived in less than 10 days. The children love “TC” the tiger and filling the suit with a living human has usually been easy. TC is a main staple of the NWSD event. He meets kids at the top of the hill, high-paws them, waves and poses for pictures.

This is me in the mascot suit the day it arrived: the Friday before Columbus day 2008. It’s from an album titled, “TC Tiger Visits School and Molly Loses 4# in the Process.”

I’ve been in that suit a dozen times. When you first start out, the craziest part about it is that when you’re in it you make all these “Hey, friend!” and “Hi little guy, you’re so cute!” smiling faces which is intentionally lovely yet practical idiocy because your own human, emoting, compassionate and understanding face CAN’T BE SEEN by the children. And some kids are freakin’ terrified of that cat and so when you crouch down and purr with your soft human face saying, “It’s OK! I won’t bite! I’m a nice kitty… here: pat my paw, touch my tail or play with my whiskers!” a small child thinks you’re growling, crouching to kill, taking a swipe, trying to whip him with your tail or prepping to dig your 3-inch teeth into her face.

You also have to hold your head inside the head a little off kilter, sort of like you’re Thurston Howell III or another stuck-up jerk because you can’t see what’s directly in front of you from your face to about 4 feet ahead of you. Conveniently, other than the possibility of passing out from inhaling its own carbon dioxide, if a person in a mascot suit wanted to tie one on just before appearing and ended up bumping into things he could easily blame the obfuscated line of sight as the problem.

I remember the day it arrived. RICK! and I couldn’t wait to go up and show the principal. School had already dismissed for the weekend. So we were cruising around, I walked into some books in the library and almost doubled over a couch in the reading zone… After we left the library, this very young teacher came around the bend of our school and encountered me head on. She SCREAMED. I was all, “What’s wrong? It’s me! It’s Molly Field! PTA Vice Prez… Hey… Hey! HEY!!!” and waving my paws, reaching out to her and trying to reason with her… she actually ran away. RICK! was behind me and she had to calm down the teacher who was nearly in tears and I ended up walking down a ramp into a pile of books and chairs that the custodians were moving because a pencil sharpener exploded all over a classroom. That teacher since left the school. Not that day, but, you know, that year.

Some people.

Typical of me, I took this mascot role very seriously: I Googled “how to be a mascot” and watched YouTube videos about it, but it never worked out. I ran out of gas because I didn’t have an occasion to really perfect the craft nor would the PTA cover costs for me to go to San Diego to learn how to mascot like a boss. I was the mascot in that suit for most of its first year and I enjoyed every minute of it, even though I sweat like a … well, like a 41-year-old mother of three in a $150 Chinese-made polyester mascot suit. It has been a while since I turned over the reins for TC and many people have worn it. I’m in no rush to return to that suit: You will find me robbing a bank to pay for a Slurpee addiction the next time I wear that suit.

NWSD weather has usually been sunny and crisp.

This year’s weather was an exception in that it was foggy, but a wonderful morning.

They say of Washington, D.C.-area weather, “If you don’t like it, give it an hour…” as storms come up randomly sometimes. It will be hot some days and a crisp 50˚ the next day in October . This is what autumn means to me, it’s “summerpause” in that the season is all about transition, slowing down, decomposing and resting to gear up again. So the walk to school was foggy and although I didn’t bring my camera, I did get to experience the visual gift of the fog when the Murph and I walked after dropping off the Things.

I encountered a gorgeous spider web, thankfully nowhere near my intended path, occupied by a robust auburn-toned arachnid whose leg-span made it about the size of a silver dollar. (Shaking off the shivers I still get when I think about it…) Had the rivulets (isn’t that a great word?) not formed on the web I would have never caught the image. The moisture accumulated enough to outline a perfect and massive 2’x2′ web perched about 6′ high from the dewey grass below. Spiders amaze me: they build every day, sometimes several times a day. I know that when I look at a spider like that they know my misery when I have to fold laundry.

After taking that in and saying a small prayer in gratitude that the gorgeous, industrious thing was nowhere near me as spiders normally make me run for Indiana screaming, I continued on our stroll. As we crossed a wooden footbridge, I saw a small conference of recently fallen red maple leaves in striking contrast to the blacktop ahead on the path. They had seen an early spring, a powerfully hot summer and were now turning their shop signs to “Closed for the Season” and were clearly ready to retire. I have come to think of autumn leaves falling as nature’s confetti, “Party’s on! We’re done feeding you humans clean air for a while… you’re good ’til spring. Just don’t screw up the ozone layer any further, k? It was hotter than you know what last summer…”

After that, we cruised by some ponds in our ‘hood (I will acknowledge that where I live is pretty idyllic once you forget about the massive 7-lanes of careening traffic about 100yards from my house) which had been cleared of their overgrowth. We saw more frogs, turtles and ducks hanging out and doing their slowdown thing. One painted box turtle we saw was in a shell that was turning yellow … do turtles change their colors too or do you think this one was ready to pack it up and call it a life? I’ll have to look that up.

These images are not things I take lightly or consider glib. In my sage maturity I’ve been socked with an almost aggressive case of EWYLDSCD:  “Enjoy What You Love and Don’t Sweat Crap that Doesn’t Matter to You” syndrome. That means that sometimes the best parts of life are the quiet things; the things that don’t talk back, that don’t “be mean” to me, the things that don’t cause chaos. I love my team, I wouldn’t change a thing in my life, but if I didn’t have nature and her blessings around me, I’d not be nearly as copacetic as I am. Nature and her beauty has softened me. (I know… that’s tragic.)

One of the best and most heart-warming images I also didn’t photograph yesterday was the moment when I saw the parent who’d volunteered to be TC meet his wife and their dog around one of the ponds after NWSD duty. Of course he had the head off, or else he’dve ended up in the pond or on a random tot-lot along the way. He was carrying the giant TC head under his arm, like a massive basketball. They have a big fluffy dog. He’s an army officer, the dad. He recently returned from a tour overseas for the past year defending our freedom. I believe he was in Afghanistan. His wife is a very funny and kind woman. Their dog noticed him first, in the odd get-up and started to bark happily at his master’s approach. The fog was just starting to thin by this point and I was on another footbridge about 150 feet away, across the pond’s glass-like stillness with their reflections dancing on the surface. He bent down to pat his dog and embraced his wife. I was quiet and Murphy stood still with me and I thought, “Holy Sweet God, whatta guy. He came back from hell on earth wearing a uniform every day for my country only to come back and shortly don another uniform for his kids and their schoolmates.” TC never looked better or meant so much to me than at that moment.

Thank you.

10 responses »

  1. The visual of you doing this: “What’s wrong? It’s me! It’s Molly Field! PTA Vice Prez… Hey… Hey! HEY!!!” had me cracking up! And then, the ending, WOW… what a very incredible moment ~what a guy!

    • Amy! Thanks for your comment! Yes, that suit has scared more than just children. I used to lysol it every time I wore it. And then take a scrubby shower. And yeah, that dad… pretty awesome. I wish I had my camera, but I’m glad I didn’t too…

    • they are. i know. it’s just we can’t resist mocking it. i clearly don’t want to post this in the blog, but it’s him if it’s a navy blue one with “MY OMC” on the license plate. we all joke around about it. it’s a great car. fast as lightning, actually.

  2. Very cool ending. It mad me choke up a little. I’m a sap…I can’t help it. The paragraph where you described your husbands old man car…that was so funny. That was priceless!

  3. This car sounds kind of cool – reclining BACKseat? Wow! LOL! It was very cool to see you as the mascot tiger, too. So cute! And yes, “rivulet” is an awesome word, and spiders are cool, even if they are a bit scary. I love their webs, so intricate and strong and beautiful – and built to help them kill things. :O

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