Hey, you guys in the back..yeah, you! Why are you heading for the exits? Get your butts back in here! You’re parents of young children, you say? You’ve had enough of Barney to last a lifetime, you say?
Hey, at least you could barricade yourselves in your bedroom and venture out only long enough to rewind the frickin’ tape. You had the occasional opportunity to escape Barney.
I’ve had to play Barney.
Yeah, I win. And because I have a knack for mimicry, the inability to say “no,” and the sense of humor of a seven-year-old, I have subsequently been asked to play Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny, SpongeBob Squarepants and, on two occasions, Winnie the Pooh.
A co-worker used to badger me into serving as birthday entertainment for her kids and their circle of friends. Since I’ve known Co-Worker since we were kids (and because she has really hot single Mom friends), I always found myself unable to say no.
Seems like the only demographic still enchanted by clowns is single mothers under age thirty five. And thank God for that, folks. Ambulance Driver needs a private life, too. But lately the nanny state seems intent on curtailing even that.
It’s getting to where a guy can’t get his swerve on anywhere.
But, I digress. We were talking about the kiddies.
When you’re a five-year-old and it’s your birthday, nothing spells F-U-N like a visit from a seven foot purple dinosaur. Once you’ve had your Barney-shaped cake served on Barney plates, you’re tanked up on caffeine and sugar cleverly disguised as grape soda served in cute little Barney glasses, you’ve whacked the bejeebers out of your Barney pinata, played pin the tail on Barney (and accidentally stuck your hostess in the ass with the pin, but Ambulance Driver will be glad to personally attend to that), and played with all your cool Barney swag, all that’s missing is the pièce de résistance – an appearance from The Dinosaur Himself.
Enter Ambulance Driver, stage left:
Hostess: (at her enthusiastic best) “Oh, now who could that be at the door, children?”
Children: (collectively in the throes of an incoherent, bug-eyed sugar frenzy) “Aaaaiiiieeeee!”…”Mom, he took my Barney!”…”Did NOT!”…”Did TOO!”…”I’m tiiiiiirrred”…”I want more cake!”…”I gotta go potty!”…”Me too!”…”I want more cake!”…”Give me back my Barney!” …”MINE!”… MORE CAKE, MORE CAKE, MORE CAKE!”…” Uh oh, I don’t need to potty no more”… “Eeeewwww, GROSS!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (waiting patiently outside the door for someone to lead me inside, because I can’t see a damned thing through the Barney head)
Hostess: (louder) “I said, who can that be at the door?”
Ambulance Driver: (totally oblivious, still waiting patiently for my cue because I can’t hear anything through the damned head either)
Children: “Waaaaahhh!”…”He HIT me!”….”Well, you took my Barney!”… “Did NOT!”…”Did TOO!”… “I don’t feeeeel good. My tummy hurts! I’m gonna – UUUURRRRP! – throw up. Sorry, Mrs. Johnson…”
Hostess: (screaming in exasperation) “Oh for the love of Pete, COME ON IN, BARNEY!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (throwing open the door, accidentally knocking over an unwary toddler in the process) “Hyuck hyuck! Hello, boys and girls! Iiiiitttt’s Barney! Hyuck hyuck!”
Children: “Aiiiieeeee” – instant silence. The wail of an aggrieved toddler pierces the stillness. The only thing missing is the music from High Plains Drifter – “Wooooweeoooweeeooooo…wah wah waaahhh…”
Hostess: (gushing enthusiastically as she scoops up the injured tyke) “Oooooh, look everybody! It’s Barney! Isn’t that great?”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: “Hyuck hyuck! Just thought I’d time travel from the Cretaceous period to pacify you little monsters! Hyuck Hyuck! Now where’s the Birthday Boy? Hyuck hyuck!”
Hostess: (cuffing Barney on the back of the head) “What he meant was, he just came here to help Justin celebrate his birthday! Isn’t that right, Barney?“
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (shifting left out of swatting distance) “Well, suuurre! Now who wants to sing the Barney Song? Hyuck hyuck!”
Children: (Still silent, moving like an uneasy herd of cattle to the far corner of the room.)
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (shuffling around doing my best Barney dance) “I love you, you love me, we’re a hap-py fam-i-lee…”
Every child under age five: (stampeding for the exits) “Aaaaaaaaaaaagggghhhhh!”
Hostess: (lassoing the birthday boy as she sings the chorus with a look of grim determination) “With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you…”
Birthday Boy: (going apeshit like the kid on The Omen as they approached the cathedral) “Don’t wanna…don’t wanna….DON’T WANNA…AAAAAAAGGGHHH!”
Kid Way Too Old For This Party: (eyeing me suspiciously and pointing) “That’s not Barney! That’s a man in a Barney costume! I can see the eyes behind the screen in Barney’s mouth!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (cuffing the little delinquent upside the head) “Shaddup, ya’ little goober, or Barney’ll squash ya! You’re ruining it for the other kids! Hyuck hyuck!”
Kid Way Too Old For This Party: (wailing piteously and running for his Mommy, who has wisely retired to the back porch with the other Mommies to medicate themselves with margaritas in their cute little Barney cups) “Aaaaaaagh! Barney hit me!”
Kid’s Mom: (absently) “That’s nice, sweetie. Now fetch Mommy another glass of Barney punch from the special pitcher.”
Hostess: (with an insane leer and a facial tic) “Now won’t you say you love me toooo…”
Birthday Boy: (gnawing through his mother’s arm and escaping to take refuge with the other kids cowering on the other side of the room) “Aaaaaaaaggghhhh! MAKE HIM GO AWAY!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (recognizing my cue to leave) “Weeeellll, so long kiddies! Hyuck hyuck! Barney has a hot date with Baby Bop, so I’ll be seein’ ya! Uhhhh…could someone please guide Barney to the door because Barney can’t see anything below his waist and might accidentally trample a kiddie! Hyuck hyuck!”
Adorable Little Toddler: (hugging Barney’s leg) “I wuv you, Bawney!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (reaching down to ruffle the little tyke’s hair and knocking him on his ass in the process) “Awwww, Barney loves you too, Little Fella!”
Hostess: (scooping up the crying toddler and shooing me out the door) “Well, wasn’t that fun! Buh-bye now, Barney!”
Ambulance Driver/Barney: (defensively) “Hey, I told you I have no depth perception in these damned costu-“
Sympathetic Dad: (waving me over to a small cluster of men taking refuge in a cloud of barbecue smoke) “Have a burger and a beer, Barney. You look like you could use one.”