Through the magic of cut and paste, I quote:
I need some people to help with giant puppets at the White House on Oct 31. Want to be a part of this?
In a few days I got an email from the producer of the event asking me for my security info: name, date of birth, social security number, and so on. And then in a few more days she emailed instructions about where to be and what to wear. We were also told to keep our traps shut about the job. As it says on the propaganda posters, loose lips sink jack o’ lanterns.
The gig called for basic black. No logos. I had black socks. And sensible black shoes. And even a black shirt or two and a black fleece. But my black trousers had shrunk in the closet since the last time I’d worn them. So, one trip to Walmart later, black trousers in hand, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.
Since my call (show-biz talk for when you need to be at work) wasn’t until noon on October 31, I spent that morning in Washington with my favorite (OK, only) niece and treated her to the finest breakfast that Au Bon Pain had to offer.
I thought, Holy Crap, what if I’m at the White House when there is a terrorist incident and I’m wearing trousers from Walmart?
I could see it being the lede in my obituary.
The puppet was constructed of PVC pipe, Mylar, nylon cords, and some battery-operated lights, all mounted on a backpack frame. The guy wearing the puppet moved his legs as if he were walking, running, or leaping, and the other two puppeteers were in charge of the arms. Kate made it clear that the puppet emoted with his arms.
He took some getting used to, but gradually the three of us got the hang of it. And by the time the kids arrived for trick or treating, I would say that we were taking not only small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind, but also were fully in touch with our feelings. For a giant puppet at least. I emoted better operating that puppet than I do operating my actual feelings.
There would be two batches of kids and families—the first group, cleared to meet POTUS and FLOTUS (in DC speak) and then the sans-culottes who would suffer the indignity of getting candy from people who were not POTUS and FLOTUS.
Khalil: Look! It's Captain America, Ariel, and Jasmine.
Rick: There's a Thomas Jefferson and he's with Button Gwinnett and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney!
Alexander Hamilton was well represented—one kid was even carrying a giant version of The Federalist Papers with him. The crowd was ethnically diverse but I didn’t see a family that looked even remotely like a family with same sex parents. Perhaps they all had a better offer in Dupont Circle.
Around 7:00 pm, all the kids had come and gone. Nic, Joseph, Khalil and I took our giant puppet (which began to look much better once it got dark) back to the staging area. I walked by the South Portico on my way to the 17th St exit and saw that the President and Mrs. Obama had left but staffers were still there handing out candy to the last few trick-or-treaters.
Glinda the Good Witch as I walked to the gate to hand in my security badge. I headed to the Metro without passing Go or collecting $200. Before long I was in the suburbs where I'd parked my truck.
It was great fun, the chance of a lifetime, really.
However, in the unlikely event that the next guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania calls about Halloween, I’m pretty sure I'm busy washing my hair. Halloween is scary enough without worrying about running into him.