Sunday, 20 November 2011

LIFE OVERSEAS : Me, myself & Minnie Mouse

IT was a Saturday, though not the typical lazy day where you remained in your pyjamas till the sun went down.
Instead, it was spent out in the beautiful sunshine at the Transformation Limerick event.
What is this exactly? Its name is self-explanatory. Limerick is a county in Ireland and the event is to transform the area into a better place to live in.
There was a variety of programmes to entertain the crowd.
Some people expressed themselves through song and dance about how life could be rejuvenated. There were live testimonies about how even after 20 years of drug addiction, it was possible to press the restart button.
Other attractions included a barbecue competition, games for the elderly such as bingo, face painting by clowns and a talent contest.
While I was nibbling my free piping hot barbecued food, I overheard an interesting conversation.
“No! I certainly am not going to dress up as a mascot!“ Apparently, the organisers were looking for volunteers to dress up as cartoon characters to entertain the children.
Not letting a great opportunity slip by, I found myself offering my services.
I put on a black full body suit with to an extraordinarily large red dress decorated with white polka dots.
To complete the outfit, I put on a bulky polyfoam head with a bright big bow in the middle and two jumbo-sized black ears.
It was as if I had stepped through a portal to a new world. My sight had diminished to about five per cent, the ability to speak was gone and I was clutching onto my guide‘s arm.
Young high-pitched voices screaming “It‘s Minnie Mouse!“ were heard from every direction.
A group of curious children began taunting me by poking me, trying to see up my breathing holes and demanding for my real name.
Another group of mischievous rascals seemed to have come up with a diabolical plan to murder me. One of them literally ran off with my “head“.
They later ran up to me for a hug and posed for photographs, which made the torment worthwhile.
All I was required to do was smile (it was impossible to change Minnie‘s face anyway) and wave. A tiny innocent baby even landed in my arms.
Then, things started to get interesting. All the mascots were called onto the stage to dance.
As peculiar as it seemed, I was not overcome by nervousness.
This was truly unusual compared to the normal butterflies in my stomach when facing a crowd. In contrast, excitement coursed through my veins.
Embarrassing choreography such as the Macarena and an assortment of moves from the 70s surfaced during the dance.
Despite a kid throwing fruit at us, I was in my element and enjoyed every second.
Then, the music ceased. Just as Cinderella had to leave the ball and return to where she belonged, so did I. The plastic ears and the suit came off, replaced by my jeans and T-shirt.
My thoughts on mascots altered after experiencing being one first-hand. Under the headgear, a mystery was all I was, an anonymous person who had no fear of expressing herself.
The need to live up to expectations disappeared and my prime concern was to make the children smile.
For one hour, I was unrecognisable to the crowd and even to myself.
I grinned as I discovered my different facets.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart.

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Me, myself and Minnie Mouse - Columnist - New Straits Times

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