My friend Dan lived in the crawlspace of the house I lived in for a while. He didn’t always live in the crawlspace, though. When I met him, he was living in the rafters of a crappy coffee shop in Santa Cruz, along with a Great Dane and the busboys, who moonlighted as boy prostitutes. Well, the busboys did; I don’t know what the Great Dane did in his off hours. So, moving in to our crawlspace was kind of a step up. Or a crawl up. It literally WAS a crawlspace, with just enough room for him to inch forward on his belly, and there wasn’t enough room to turn around. After he left, we crawled back there and discovered that he’d been drawing a detailed mural of pigs fucking in a variety of positions back there. But anyway.
I don’t remember if we charged him rent on the crawlspace; I hope we didn’t. He couldn’t have afforded very much. He went through a number of jobs in the time that I knew him, never holding on to them for very long. The Big Bird job, which I am about to tell you about, my little biscuit, just you hang on a minute, only lasted for a month before the incident which I like to call “Big Bird Teaches The Number Two.”
Dan was a clown, sort of. A couple of my friends worked for something called Entertainment East, which was a singing telegram/stripper/kid’s party entertainment company, and so Dan gave it a shot. He’d tried to be a male stripper but the ladies laughed at him and then got threatening on the very first gig he went out on. Kid’s parties seemed less threatening and didn’t require him to be well-hung, so he switched to those instead.
The costumes were horrible sad old things, stiff with the sweat of a hundred children’s entertainers, all of them urine-stained all over the legs from holding babies. They were mostly cheap knockoffs of famous characters – a leering mouse in short red pants, a dented-headed grey rabbit, a blue thing that was either a smurf (when the hat was on) or a cookie monster (when the hat was off). So, for kid’s parties, Dan would get an address on a slip of paper, pick up the costume and/or the magic tricks needed, get dressed up in the costume and go off in his car that had no floorboards anymore.
The Big Bird costume was mostly a sort of pair of pajamas, all one piece except for the head. It was bald, pilled-up old yellow flannel with a stray feather still clinging to it in the four or five places where the glue still worked. The head was huge and hard to see out of, with just a little slit in the beak to look through, and it never lined up with the wearer’s eyes correctly. You had to sort of prop it up with one hand in order to see anything. Most of the time it lolled forward on to the wearer’s chest, making it look like Big Bird was nodding out on heroin (and, in fact, sometimes he WAS, depending on who was in the costume). This was what Dan was wearing on the day he lost his job.
He’d gotten the address, and driven all the way out to the suburban tract neighborhood where the party was taking place, dressed up in the Big Bird suit. It was insanely hot in the costume, and it smelled of spit up and bad breath; he’d driven over with the head on the seat next to him but he was starting to feel really ill by the time he got to the address. After parking, he put the head on, and was just getting out of the car when he was hit by stomach cramps.
To his credit, Dan was trying really hard to do the right thing. However urgent it was, he knew he couldn’t walk into the party full of six year olds and say, “Howdy, kids! Big Bird’s here, and BOY does he have to take a shit. Where’s the john?”
He cast around, trying to figure out what to do, when his eyes fell on an old Chinese food takeout container in the back seat of his car. Inspiration struck. He opened the driver’s side door on to the street, so that it hid him from on-coming traffic, unzipped the back of the suit, and grabbed the take-out container. Then he squatted and shat into the take-out box.
By the time he was finished, and it took quite a while, he’d nearly filled the container up. He closed it, set it down under the car, and fished around for the address. It was only at this point that he heard the sounds of children coming from the house across the street.
With a sinking feeling, he checked the address again.
He was not parked down the street from the children’s party. He was, it turned out, parked DIRECTLY across the street from the children’s party. He was, in fact, parked in front of, and in full view of, the picture window behind which the party was going on. Or, to be truthful, where the party HAD been going on, because it was sure as hell stopped now. A double row of children’s heads, and some horrified adults, were lined up in the window, all watching Big Bird teach the Number 2.