|Not actual costume, but it looked identical to this one.|
Because of these changing times, in 1993 I also became a proud owner of a beaver mascot costume.
Throughout high school, I worked as a sweeper boy at a local elementary school. As innocent as most beavers may appear, the school I worked at became victim of increasing pressure from local citizens to change the mascot to something less, uh, innuendo-istic. These anti-beaver-ites thought they ruled the world with their sad beaver disdain.
Despite the presence of a protruding stinger, the administration decided upon a bumblebee.
The day I rescued that beaver costume from a certain dumpster death was the day my life changed forever. (I doubt anyone has previously blogged the last sentence. Ever.)
... 2 years later ...
My high school graduation was to be followed by an eventful trip to my grandparent's cabin near Yellowstone National Park with four of my best friends.
We took the beaver suit.
During our vacation, we went fishing, swam in the river and ate steaks that seemed to be filled with more steaks. Much of our time was spent goofing around like normal 18-year-olds do. My mom is still wondering how the shocks on her minivan wore out so quickly that summer. (Not related to teenage promiscuity of any kind.)
Alas, the day of reckoning arrived. My buddies and I had given it much thought and we were going to take Yellowstone National Park by storm. A storm of beaver so frightening, not even a Cobra Kai leg sweep could defeat it.
All five of us clamored into the minivan and drove straight for Old Faithful. Upon our arrival, one particularly zany pal immediately dawned the beaver suit, complete with a flappy tail and a goofy red heart on it's chest. It was adorable.
He was adorable. We could hardly contain our laughter.
We had no idea what the reaction would be from the throngs of people gathered round to watch white water shoot into the air. Little did we know that folks from all across this great land would line up to have their pictures taken with an enormous, bucktoothed, semi-aquatic man-mal. My beaver friend spent at least two hours roving the hot pots, posing for pictures and pretty much laughing it up with bumbling tourists wearing over-sized fanny packs filled with granola.
Unfortunately, I did a thorough search of our home and I could not find a single picture of this marvelous beaver dam great day. I know the pictures exist: the beaver trying to start the wave around Old Faithful, the beaver at the urinal, the beaver getting kissed by two female Rangers. (FYI: Female Rangers are just about as sexy as you'd imagine female Rangers to be.) I'm hopeful one of my friends has photos that I could post.
I have never actually seen a real beaver in Yellowstone. I am sure they are there, but even in Yellowstone they are pretty elusive. Thus, I was confused if the tourists actually thought that the park's mascot was our beaver suit. You would think a bear, buffalo or an van full of Asian people would make a much more suitable mascot.
As we piled back into the van, we high-fived (cool at the time) and lauded our total beaver-ization of Old Faithful. We then discussed and agreed upon one final prank.
Now, anyone that has visited Yellowstone knows that if you see an animal in your car - be it a moose, a fox, a squirrel or a unicorn - you must slam on your brakes, get out of the vehicle with your camera in tow and excitedly approach it. It's a little bit like when a Los Angelan sees a 10 car pileup or a New Yorker sees a dead person in an alley - they see them all the time, but they can't NOT take photos.
It was this unbridled tourist thirst for roadblocks and nature photography of furry woodland creatures that gave us our plan...
We waited for the roads to clear for a few minutes and my friend - still dressed as a furious man-beaver - squirted into the field and ducked behind a log. Meanwhile, my friends and I started to jump, point and take pictures.
Within 5 minutes we had created a roadblock of mammoth proportions. Cars from every state in the union had backed up and a few brave souls started to venture out into the woods to see what the brown fur lurking behind the log might be.
With their cameras at the ready and shoulder bags swinging, the tourists crept upon my slouching friend who would occasionally huff and grunt - adding to the allure. A few came within a couple feet, tiptoeing as if they were sneaking up on a sleepy, baby giraffe.
At that moment, my woolly costumed friend stood on his hind legs, waved his arms and proclaimed, "WELL HELLO EVERYBODY!"
The tourists, still unsure what mysterious animal was lurking behind the log, SCREAMED and DARTED! The mayhem continued for about 3 seconds. 3 loooong seconds. My friend then darted back to the van and we peeled out like a couple of Dukes of Hazard bandits. (The beaver boy may actually have attempted to jump through the van window - Dukes style - which I am sure was quite a site in and of itself.)
Once on the road again, we rolled with laughter at the thought of a giant beaver jumping out of the Yellowstone thicket at a bunch of unsuspecting tourists.
To this day, I still think about the story that some Chinese dude is telling his kid back home...
"And then, just as I was about to reach him, he stood up on two legs and yelled profanities at us and jumped into the getaway car."
We were such morons.