Monday, May 3, 2010

Being Clifford

Take a look . . . a good close look, and I’m sure you can tell. Underneath that thick layer of brilliant red hair, behind those big friendly eyes, and somewhere inside that benign smile, you must be able to tell. Yes! It is, in fact, yours truly dressed up as the world’s biggest red dog.

But don’t think dressing up as Clifford is just all fun and games with a bit of tail wagging and paw waving. No siree! The Clifford costume comes with guidelines. Very strict guidelines. Among them . . .

Clifford is not to be seen with his head off at any time.

Clifford is NEVER allowed to talk.

Clifford is NEVER to lift his leg.

And there’s more. Plenty more.

So when you’re dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog, the pressure is on. You have to act like Clifford, which means you have to improvise.

How would Clifford react to, say, knocking over a book display with his errant tail?

How does Clifford dance like John Travolta?

How does Clifford sign autographs without an opposable thumb?

How does Clifford maintain his friendly, cheerful persona when he’s melting in a pool of sweat and his glasses are fogging up so he can’t see a thing?

How does Clifford manage the greeting of young children when he has no peripheral vision and can’t see anything within two metres of his big feet? (Check the picture. This kid is out of Clifford’s range of vision. We hope he wasn’t traumatized by being ignored by the Big Red Dog.)

Fortunately, I had a very capable handler who guided me through the trappings of a school family dance and fund raiser night. The evening was incident free– at least, as far as my limited vision could see– and Clifford’s reputation as a happy, helpful, rabies-free dog was upheld. Thank you Randy!

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