4 Important Lessons You Learn as a Birthday Party Mascot

#2. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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There are the occasional costumes that aren't sweat lodges and actually provide some room to breathe. The drawback to many of these, however, is that where fur or plastic once was, there is just now spandex ... skintight spandex.

Take for example the Spider-Man costume: It's tight, like vacuum-sealed tight. I don't know how Peter Parker accounted for modesty when he created his suit -- maybe the radioactivity had other effects -- but the makers of his birthday party costume clearly did not even try. Or maybe they just watched Labyrinth one too many times.


And now it's time for the face painting.

I'm not sure if that's also why mothers used to seem more friendly when I wore the Spider-Man costume, but there was a noticeable difference in treatment between that and, say, the gay Teletubby. Most of my really big tips came from Spider-Man parties, but you have to be prepared, because what the Spider-Man costume giveth, it can also taketh away. For example, if you ever find yourself at a party dressed as Spider-Man and the mother of the birthday child comes up to you, places her hand on your back and says: "Those are my two sons over there, do you know what they are named?"

And you say, "No."

And she says, "Peter and Parker. What do you think of that?"

And you say, "I guess you really like Spider-Man."

And she says, "You could say that."

But then you say, "I'm more of a Batman fan."

You are not getting a big tip at the end of that party.

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No matter how hard you pose.

#1. Nobody Fucks With Elmo

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Here's a fun experiment: Find a neighborhood in your city where you -- a privileged 22-year-old who still sometimes listens to Blues Traveler -- might not feel overly welcomed. Now go to that neighborhood dressed in shorts and a String Cheese Incident T-shirt, park your car and walk up and down the block staring at a map and looking really lost. Also make sure you are holding a bag of face paints and a coloring book. I'm not saying that anything bad is necessarily going to happen to you, but you probably aren't going to be making a lot of Sunday morning brunch plans.

Now, go back to that neighborhood and put on an Elmo costume and watch as you turn from Scott Howard into Teen Wolf strutting the halls of Beacon Hills High. Turns out a little bit of fur does go a long way, and Elmo has a shit ton of it. Car horns will announce you as you walk down the streets, children and adults will stop to ask you for autographs at every corner and "Yo Elmo!" will rain down from windows up and down the avenues. That may be going a bit overboard, but sometimes, in my desperate world, that's how it felt. I've never felt so close to fame as I did when I was staring at the world through mesh eye sockets, in a shower of my own sweat.

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Who's up for unlimited mimosas and french toast now, bitches?

There are a few unwritten laws in the universe to which absolutely everyone apparently adheres:

1. Don't shit where you eat.

2. Don't sell drugs in front of a school.

3. Don't mess with the dude going to a kid's birthday party dressed like Elmo.

Wearing the Elmo costume often brought an intoxicating sense of invincibility. It didn't matter that I was completely lost in life, with no real direction, prospects or food, or that I had been turned down for a hosting job at the LAX California Pizza Kitchen last Tuesday. Today I was Elmo. Elmo walked with purpose. Elmo walked wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He could even walk through this really sketchy neighborhood after dusk! On this abandoned street! With this cop car slowly pulling up next to him ...

"Hey kid, what do you think you are doing?"

"Just walking to my car."

"What's with the suit?"

"I'm Elmo."

"Well, why don't you let us drive you to your car before something bad happens, Elmo."

"... OK."

You can follow Erik on Twitter.

For more insight into jobs you probably don't want, check out Why Tech Support Sucks: A Look Behind the Scenes and The 5 Most Impractical Aspects of Superhero Costumes.

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