Friday, February 17, 2012

The Mascot Diaries: External

You are a dental supplier. From Omaha. The largest supplier in Omaha, third largest in the country. Your products sit on store shelves beside Crest and Aquafresh, and though not as famous as the former, your products are a name brand barrier. They block the consumer's gaze from meeting with the accursed generics. You are not the king of your industry, not by any means, but you are still a titan among ants.

Thus you came to McCormick Place, striding past the trade show booths of minor dental deities--toothpaste kami, one might say--and proudly staking out your claim beside the Big Boys of oral hygiene. You have a new entry-level oscillating battery powered toothbrush to hawk to the masses. And at first, the swarming crowds of dentists and wholesalers flood your booth, take your little vibrating tchotchkes, vow to buy your product in droves.

And then, just hours into your weekend-long triumph, something happens.

The crowd slowly dissipates, like stormclouds that never quite stormed. Here and there among your receding audience you hear murmurs of interest, snatches of words:




Distressed, you turn to your marketing intern, a hardworking teen from University of Iowa you have no intention of hiring, and sharply tell him to watch the booth. As you fall in line behind those few last stragglers abandoning your wares, you snatch a few tchotchkes. Maybe you can get some people back once you find out where they're all going.

But once you get there, twelve booths down, you can't remember your old life. All it takes is a step through the semicircle of people gathered around an unassuming little display for children's toothbrushes and your brain is clearing out valuable cognitive real estate. Weddings, divorces, the first factory, the second, bigger factory, that thorium toothpaste you've considered test marketing--it all goes away. And how can you keep it? How can you hold onto anything but the utter, baffling joy flooding your mind at the sight of:

The biggest
dancingest crayon you have ever seen.

It whirls towards you, seven feet or more of crimson cheer. You think it's going to keep moving, you think you, the third place national dental supplier--or even fifth if you're being honest with yourself--aren't worthy of this crayon-man's attention.

But he stops.

He looks at you. He looks into you.

And one giant, gloved hand flies into your life. You drop your samples, barely aware you had them, to bring up your own hand for the most perfect moment in your entire life.

You high-five the giant crayon.

When you return to your booth, everything feels different, and yet everything is still the same. The U of I intern scrutinizes you between customers, and finally asks: "Boss, are you okay?" And you realize you've been crying.

"I'm okay," you say. You put your hand on the intern's shoulder and resolve to hire him the moment he graduates. Something mid-level with growth potential. You smile and the only thing cleaner than your teeth is your soul. "I think we're all going to be okay."


Me, inside the crayon: something like this.

 See, I know she's trying to sketch in what this camel actually looked like, but thanks to a pop-cultural upbringing that consisted primarily of video game commercialsjunk food, and Japanimation on Channel 62, that sketchy line-y drawing overlaid on reality brings but one thing to mind:

doot-doo doo doot-doo doot doo doot doo doot doo...
Apparently riding camels requires less clothing than your average 7-11. I'm strangely okay with this.

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