You can put lipgloss on Pig Pen, but…

Someone caught me in a weak moment. I was attending a memorial service for an SPCA supporter when I was wrangled into modeling in the PacRep Theatre’s November 1 fashion show/fundraiser titled “Runway Revels! A Very Different Fashion Show.”  

And, it was a very different different fashion show, namely because it included a lunk like me.

Promotional materials  urged people to “experience a new and theatrical event as community VIPs walk the runway and model PacRep’s famous Costume Collection.”

Models were asked to to share a short anecdote related to theatre or performing. I had nothing. I played Pig Pen, from Peanuts, in the 4th grade.  I like to think I gave a stirring, nuanced portrayal of this flawed, complicated character. But, I had one line and probably botched it.

A month before the show, I had my appointment with the costume designer. Models were invited to choose their costume/character from among the few dozen musicals PacRep has put on. I met a bubbly lady where we were surrounded by clothing racks and boxes spilling over with feathered boas and crazy hats.  “I can really see you as a giraffe!,” she gushed.  “You know, like from Madagascar,” which I did notice on the list of past PacRep shows. “It would require that you walk on stilts.”

It was one of those moments where about 17 thoughts come to mind.  Do I look like a giraffe?  I like giraffes….does my insurance cover stilt-related injuries…giraffes have long necks but they need to bend to reach the ground…I don’t want to fall and embarrass the SPCA…Heck, no, I don’t want to be a giraffe!

“That’s an interesting idea, and I get the animal-connection, but I had another character in mind,” I said.  How about Sky Masterson from Guys and Dolls?”  He’s the slick, morally bankrupt character Marlon Brando made famous. She sized me up, glanced at the racks and hats, and a minute later, I was trying on fedoras and suit jackets, like a really strange version of that famous scene with Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman. Cue Van Morrison’s Brown-Eyed Girl. So, Sky Masterson it was.

Until the fitting date. I tried on striped suit pants that made Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever character look like he was sporting a relaxed fit. And, I think that was by design.  “Darn it, I see those suit pants don’t fit” said the costume designer. “But, are you familiar with Mary Poppins?” Oh God, I thought.  I’ll take one for the team, but I’m not going in drag.  “I can really see you as Bert, the character played by Dick Van Dyke.”  The cool fedora would have to wait.  Instead, I got Bert’s straw hat, striped jacket, powder blue bow tie and white pants.  “And, make sure you wear white undies the day of the show. Looks like you’re wearing red or orange right now,” she giggled.  I didn’t get dressed that morning thinking I would be trying on see-through white pants.

Sounds funny saying this now, but I wish I would have been involved in music or drama.  When I was in school, there was little crossover between sports and performing arts.  Not even The Breakfast Club could break down the compartments at my high school. A jock trying out for a part in the spring musical!? If I had the guts, it would have been the coolest move I could have ever made.

This fashion show wasn’t about making up for lost opportunities, though I was dabbed with lipgloss and cheek rouge before my walk. Community leaders joined together to support local theater, people like me who don’t often have the bandwidth for causes outside of their own.  Collaborations make our community stronger.  We see this through our partnerships with Meals on Wheels (pet food we supply is delivered to pet owners who can’t leave their homes), the Salinas Valley State Prison where our shelter dogs are paired with inmates who train them, and with Central Coast College, which sends vet assistant and registered vet tech students to our campus for extern work.

I was honored the SPCA was invited to Pac Rep Theatre’s big event and happy to participate, especially not on stilts.