by Trey Humphreys
Listen folks, here’s the deal. I was the team mascot in college. Not the quarterback or the 3rd baseman, the Mascot. This, I’m afraid, is a true story. Let me paint the picture for you. I rolled into college at a blazing 5’9 ¾ and weighing an astounding 125lbs. Let me paint a better picture for you, that’s a skinny b*tch. Even the golf team laughed at me. I hate golf.
Now, a man of this build doesn’t have a tremendous amount of options when it comes to competitive sports. Or recreational sports. Or online sports. However, there was one activity I found that might fit my skills. The Mascot.
Here is a list of the skills required to become and perform as the team mascot:
- Ability to work a zipper
- Ability to sweat 90lbs of fluid every 8 minutes
That’s it. Seemed reasonable. I joined.
Now, the reason I’m telling you this useless information is to preface a story that has been a favorite of my friends. It is the story of a small town parade, a 125lb man in a tiger costume, and the EMS, Police and Fire Rescue. In no particular order.
You see, I had been invited to perform in a small town parade somewhere in Alabama (and by invited, the school made me go). This was not very uncommon as the mascot was often times requested for appearances ALL OVER THE HORRIBLE STATE OF ALABAMA. For free. In the summer. Which was hot as ball$.
I drove down to the small town in my red Acura Integra hatchback and found a parking spot, which would conveniently double as my changing room.
I can’t remember how, but I did get the mascot suit on by myself and headed toward the parade. Just a man in a tiger costume walking down the street. Carpe Diem.
The parade started and I bounced around the different floats along the route annoying entertaining the crowd. At one point, I decided to hop on the back of a fire truck to be funny (and by funny I mean because I was tired, hot and bored out of my dumb brains).
The truck rolled along the parade route and I decided to climb up the back and onto the top where all the hoses are stacked. Why? Because it beats walking around in a faux-fur tiger costume unable to consume oxygen because the head is constructed with only two air holes each the size of an ant fetus. That’s why.
As I sat atop the fire truck waving to the people along the parade route, we came to a turn in the route. You see, the parade veered left, but the fire truck keep going straight.
A bit of a conundrum for tiger-man.
I watched the parade get smaller and smaller the further we got away. I also noticed the fire truck turned on all the lights and sirens.
I then realized the fire truck was going EIGHTY MILES AN HOUR DOWN THE DAMN HIGHWAY.
Let’s pause for a moment here. At this point, I’m a 20-year-old young adult, in a very noticeable and encumbering tiger costume, sweating nuts, on the top of a fire truck. Going 80 mph. TO A FIRE.
The driver had no idea I was on top. Interesting.
I will be honest. I didn’t have a ton of options at this point. I crawled to the side of the truck and carefully leaned over where I could see the driver’s side mirror. In the mirror, I could see the drivers face. Approximately 1 minute later, his dumb ass saw my face. Which was a tiger head. Staring at him, emotionless, on top of his fire truck. Doing 80 down the highway — going to a fire.
There are a few things in my life that are scarred into my memory. One is watching my dad go to jail five different times. Another is the look on that man’s face when he noticed a tiger on the top of his truck. Awkward.
Needless to say, ol’ boy pulled over on the side of the highway shouting profanities (towards what I assumed was me) to “GET OFF HIS (expletive) TRUCK”. I did. He then asked, “WHAT THE (expletive) ARE YOU DOING” where I simply told him…
(Note to the reader: As the Team Mascot, there was a code in which you never talk with the head on. This was thought to help improve your non-verbal communication skills, which are critical to performing in front of crowds.)
Therefore, I just stared back at him.
After the world’s worst staring contest, ol’ boy got back in the truck and took off. Leaving me, THE TIGER, alone on the side of a highway, in the middle of Alabama.
As a natural survivalist, I oriented myself in the direction we came from and simply started walking back towards the part of the state that held the parade. My un-educated guess was that we had traveled around 10–15 miles, so walking back to the parade (wearing size 25 tiger feet and 100lbs of shag fur) should only take around 2–6 months. This, of course, was assuming I didn’t die of multiple heat strokes, or from a couple good ol’ boys returning from a hunt — only to hunt again — and mount me in their garage.
A few minutes later, as I walked down the side of the highway waving at passing cars like a complete idiot, a police car pulled up, full bells and whistles. I imagined they would cut the tiger costume off me before putting me in general population of the county jail where I would clearly be auctioned off as someone’s b*tch for 3 cigarettes and a bag of Fritos. I couldn’t wait.
The cop asked me where I was going, what I was doing and who I was to which I replied…
After another awkward silence with authority, he told me to get in the backseat of the cop car. Have you ever been in the back of a cop car? In a tiger costume? Tweet me.
He took me back to the parade route and dropped me off in the middle of town which now had NO PARADE. At this point, I was just a dude in a tiger costume, wandering through a small town in middle of Alabama. Perfect.
I finally found my used Integra, somehow, and tore off my Tiger costume. I drove back to school and NEVER TOLD A F*CKING SOUL.
PS. I won the College National Championship for Mascots in 1995 LIKE A BOSS!
Swear to God.
I dedicate this story to loving memory of Ace Amerson and John Winter, Jr.