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Monday, November 22, 2010

50% chance

So here we are.
50%. It can mean so many things. Half. Half full. Half empty. Hours to go before your phone’s battery dies. A coin’s flip. An F grade. A fighting chance for life. Enough grays to require the permanent hair dye. Splitting the check, the profits, the assets. Reduction. A huge supply of your daily requirement of fiber. 
I am growing concerned. Over the last few days, it has been forecasted that there is a 50% chance of rain on Thanksgiving. Now all of a sudden, 50% only means yes, definitely, count on it. 
I am still aware that a 50% chance of rain means that there is also a 50% chance that it will not rain. But it’s going to rain. I just know it. 
I have been on the Sesame Street float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1995-2002, and then again from 2007-2009; this year will be my 12th. I don’t say this to boast. Mine is not a prestigious record by any means. There have been various Sesame and Muppet floats in the parade off and on since the 70s, and consecutive Sesame floats since 1993. 
But even with only 11 under my belt, I have seen and felt the full gamut of offerings on Mother Nature’s menu, from bitter cold to windy to mild and I think I speak for all of us crammed in that float when I tell you that her worst Turkey Day dish is rain.
I hear you out there. What’s her damage? you say, as you know my penchant for 80s cinema. The puppeteers are in a little building on the float, sticking their Muppets out little windows. It’s not like she’s a real person who has to wave and smile or carry a balloon. Guh.
True. I am not a real person. 
But we still speak in hushed tones of the infamous Rainy Parade of the Late 90s. 
It rained. It rained hard. The kind of rain where umbrellas are nothing more than a valiant failed effort. Everyone was sopping even before we got on the float, because we gather two hours before the parade steps off, and there’s nowhere to wait except outside. Poor Alison (who plays Gina) wore this gorgeous fisherman’s sweater that absorbed every ounce of water. By parade’s end the thing weighed more than she did. The entire human cast, unprotected, was absolutely drenched... but they were pros, and they made the kids so happy. 
That wasn’t the real drama, though.
No, that would have been in the little 2-story building on the float, chock full of Muppet Performers, Muppets, and wranglers. Yes, one would think that the protection of a structure would make everything fine once we all settled into our places. Sure, some water would get in through the windows. And sure, we were sitting in damp pants. But we were okay.
Until we realized that the black paint on the inside of the building was water-based. And we realized this when we noticed that a lot of the water coming in through the window was black, and getting everywhere... on people, on puppets... everywhere.
You’d never have noticed it on the telecast, but it was a nightmare. Afterwards, the sun came out the second the parade was over, but the poor Muppet wranglers spent their Thanksgiving back at the shop, carefully and painstakingly cleaning black paint off of puppets.
And the following year, it rained again. Not as hard, thankfully, but enough to attach cumbersome little umbrellas to the Muppet characters... which meant that once your arm was out that window, it had to stay there for the full hour it took the float to make its way to Macy’s. My shoulder, my rotator cuff and my wrist still argue about who had it worse that day. Oh, and did I mention that they didn’t do a completely thorough job of covering the water-based paint inside the float? 
Don’t get me wrong. The parade is loads of fun. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. And I am certainly not averse to water falling from the sky, as I am neither a wicked witch nor am I made of sugar. But when you’re already twisted in an awkward position under a Muppet, well, any additional challenges make the job much more difficult. And then I just feel old.
It rained one other year, too... one of the years I was on my “I’m in a show and this is my only day off and I’m too mentally/physically exhausted to get up at 5 AM plus I can’t afford to get sick and miss performances if it’s freezing” parade hiatus. I watched from home as I prepped the turkey, knowing I’d dodged a bullet that year. 
But now, now my time is up. I’m due. Not to mention that last year was unseasonably mild. The universe must remain balanced. So 50% means yes, it’s going to rain on my parade, and no, the sun will not be a ball of butter. 
Still, there will be plenty of Butterballs. 
Oh, wait: the latest update shows there’s now a 60% chance. Crap.
I don’t know whether I’m more bummed at the fact that the chance of rain has increased or that the crux of this entire blog entry is now null and void.
Yeah, it’s the blog entry thing. I can always dry off. 
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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