Though I am positive the wealth and fame promised me by a recent fortune cookie is no farther away than the next letter from Ed McMahon, I sometimes take on odd jobs to help keep my family income from sliding into a recession. So when a neighbor called to tell me she would pay me to attend her daughter's birthday party, I was enthusiastic: This sounded like my kind of work! Then I grew suspicious.
"Wait a minute. I don't have to dance and take off my clothes, do I?" I demanded.
"Oh no!" my neighbor cried, gasping in such horror that I wondered if I should be insulted. "My daughter's only five years old. We want you to come as Montgomery Moose. We'll supply the costume."
This hardly sounds like the sort of dignified work I should be doing at this point in my career. I could picture the Pulitzer Committee poring over my resume: "Wait a minute, he was a MOOSE?" But when my neighbor offered fifty bucks, I suddenly saw real potential in the position, and agreed to be the entertainment at the party.
So now I'm in the kitchen while a gaggle of children mill around in the other room, waiting for the "special surprise." The costume I'm wearing is ridiculous--the head is the size of a beach ball, with a dark veil of material in the grinning mouth my only source of illumination. Peering through this curtain, I can see virtually nothing. The rest of my body is covered in what looks like cut-pile carpeting, and my feet stick out a good 30 inches. I feel like I'm wearing a space suit from a third-world country. Worse, after only ten minutes, the temperature inside the thing has risen to the level of moose soup.
My neighbor comes in. "Okay," she whispers excitedly. She grabs the mitten that is Montgomery's three-fingered hand. "Let's go!"
The party guests are gathered around a table. Their mouths drop open at the sight of a blind, sweating moose barging into the dining room. "Hiya, kids!" I cry, my voice as muffled as someone trapped in the trunk of a car.
Several of the children begin weeping.
"Samantha, look who is here," my neighbor says to a solemn little girl at the head of the table. I start to walk, but my feet drag and I pitch forward. My neighbor reaches out to arrest my fall, but the moose head clunks her right in her skull and we go down together. The birthday girl screams. I'm disoriented, trying to see, aware only that I am sprawled on top of the girl's mother.
The little girl's father chooses that moment to enter the room. His expression indicates he had not expected to arrive home to find his wife rolling around on the floor with a moose.
The two parents manage to haul me into a standing position. The children are no longer afraid--apparently Montgomery Moose only takes down adults as his prey.
"You're not Bullwinkle," someone accuses. I turn in the direction of the small voice, my head striking the chandelier. "No, I'm Montgomery Moose!" I exult from inside my sauna.
"Can I punch you in the stomach?" demands someone else.
"Samantha, it's your favorite," my neighbor encourages. The birthday girl folds her arms and looks away. I bumble my way toward the head of the table, knocking over a chair. Samantha runs from the room.
The girl's father appears in my vision. "She's just shy," he explains.
A little dog bounds into the room, sees me, and comes to a dead halt. I bend down to pet him and he sinks his teeth into my yellow mitten, growling. "Hey!" I shout.
"Miggs! Let go!" the mother commands. But the dog has decided on a meal of cartoon moose and refuses to release his grip. I yank, hard, and there's a tearing sound as I suddenly pull free. I stagger backward, reaching blindly for support. "Look out!" the mother cries. My floppy feet crash into a pile of birthday presents and I go down again, this time without anyone's wife to cushion my fall.
Giggling, several children jump on top of me, bruising my internal organs.
It wasn't until a few hours later, as I stood in the front door waving goodbye to the departing guests, that Samantha finally came into view. Unexpectedly, she threw her arms around me and pressed her head into my padded stomach. "I love you, Montgomery Moose," she whispered--which suddenly made it all worthwhile.
That, and the fifty bucks her father gave me.
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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 2001
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Submitted By: W. Bruce Cameron
Apr 13, 2001 14:54