Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"It Makes my Mouth Hurt to Speak with Such Merriment"

I don't think I've ever worked so hard for a paycheck. The three days I spent at Comic-Con -- skating through the streets of the Gaslamp District, blowing my whistle, screaming promotional sound bites at pedestrians and ninjas and Boba Fetts alike -- it was unlike anything I've ever done before. I've never touched so many strangers -- the hugs, the photographs. My palms are sore from so much high-fiving, which is to say nothing of my feet, and the beating they took from the asphalt.

My Babe Ruthless uniform was heavy, and we were always outside, about seven out of 10 hours per day in the sun. We did stunts -- setting up shop on street corners and taking turns jumping over each other; bulldozing down busy sidewalks, a nine-person roller train, blowing our whistles and chanting "Whip It! October 9th!" as we plowed through. We shot the duck. When I peeled off my uniform after the first shift, I was shocked to find my knees covered in bruises. Upon closer inspection, I realized they had been dyed from the green nylons I wore under my kneepads.

I felt a little bad for the folks who had to share an elevator with nine sweaty rollergirls at the end of the night, one of whom was Ludacris.

I think I now have some sense of what David Sedaris experienced in SantaLand. I feel a kinship with Cuervo Man from John Hodgman's "This American Life" piece. I appreciate the plight of Pinchy, the misunderstood Fight Crew Lobster.

I was only slightly humiliated when my troop of Hurl Scouts skated past a guy I went on a couple of dates with a few months back. I recognized him immediately and was hoping to fly by incognito until I heard "Hey Meghan." There was smugness in that greeting.

And then there was the guy who shouted, as I was tossing "Whip It!" sweatbands into a mile-long line of folks waiting to a watch movie preview, "Hey, didn't you go to Centennial High School?"

Why yes! Look at me now. All grown up on roller skates and wearing a too-short girl scout uniform.

None of this is to say that I didn't have a good time. It was amazing to witness our enthusiasm infect almost everyone who crossed our paths. Funny that when you scream at people, they so readily scream back; blow a whistle and they will wave; chant "WHIP IT! OCTOBER 9th!" and they will chant it right back to you, fists in the air. It helps when you're tossing out free swag, but even when all we had to offer were high fives, people lined up to receive them ("Good game!" we told them. "You were great out there. Way to rock the Con!" And then we'd blow a whistle in their confused, delighted faces).

Being "on" for three days straight was completely exhausting. As an introvert, this part was the most difficult for me, more so than the physical stuff. I spent my three hour breaks alone, walking through the streets where I'd been skating earlier, searching for a good reading spot, and appreciating how it felt to pass another person and not have to smile or scream or wave, feeling blissfully invisible.

Don't get me wrong: I am sore. Rolling over so much rocky asphalt takes its toll. The vibrations get you everywhere -- it's like being jackhammered. I have never paid for a professional massage, but I have been thinking about it. I will probably keep thinking about it until the appropriate amount of time has passed and it seems too indulgent for this workhorse. I am also a little tired of strangers touching me.


allison orphan said...

coo! you guys had some great uniforms! as for that massage....i never had a professional one either. but after walking miles on cobblestone and uneven streets in mexico all month, i came home with some serious issues. and then i finally got my first massage!!

JDiggity said...

I'm disappointed in myself for not being able to come up with a high caliber, self-serving joke about you feeling jack hammered.

Cagey said...

There are massage schools, where you can get a cheap one; the other year PITA took out my back, and I got an hour for $25 in Redondo Beach (didn't end up helping).