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Fearing and Dreading Why I Never Wanted to Be Our High School Mascot

Updated on October 30, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth is a natural-born southerner and grew up his entire life in the south where he has resided now for 63 years in Hamilton, Al.,

This personal, first-person narrative, is actually unexplored territory, so I would tell you that this piece is perfect for reading with your children and grandchildren.

Before reaching adulthood, I was prone to having some rather scary and very challenging non-sexual fantasies. But this is not to say that 18-year-old males avoid fantasizing about that certain older woman who is not opposed to meeting in some dark, deserted subdivision and partake of non-discreet activities that are not to be mentioned in good company.

Let's just relax. I had that one latter type of reoccurring fantasy from ages 16 on through 24. "Barbara," was her name. Real or not, I loved it. I found out via reading certain magazines that most "Barbara's" are hot, fun to be with and do not carry grudges. Every time "this" fantasy surfaced, here is the end result: Zilch. Na, da. Never met "that" brazen brunette with clothing way too tight and had many talents--the best being able to keep the rowdiest of secrets. Never made that leap of faith. Why? Simply because (this) 30-year-old brazen brunette never existed in my hometown, Hamilton, Ala.

Speaking about scary fantasies, I have had a few. But the one that I have always dreaded was when I was in high school, junior through senior levels, somehow I was elected (probably blackmailed) to be the high school mascot and in my high school's case: a lovable bulldog named "Bully." Over the years many poor individuals have been "Bully" and that went on their report cards. These were, in my day, "Kids With Guts." These girls and boys didn't mind telling everyone that they were the school mascot. They wore the title like a badge of honor. I didn't care to think about or talk about the awkward position of being the school mascot.

Not that there was anything immoral or illegal about it. I was not that brave. Weak, to be truthful. Not able to have fun poked at me or laughed at in public. When I was five, my then-brother-in-law, had this loud, Howitzer-like laugh that would shake the rafters. Just one funny thing said at family meal time and this guy let it fly! I was scared the first time he bellowed out his five-minute laugh. So scared that I climbed down from my chair and hid underneath our dining table. Since then, when I hear a person laugh in this manner--loud and abrasive, I start shaking. Sweat shows up underneath my hair. I stutter when I talk. I hated it then and hate it now. All reasons for why I was never game to be the school mascot.

Now that I've crossed this bridge, even if I were a brave, Jesse Ventura type, what possible social benefits would go with me sticking myself inside our "Bully" costume? Right now, and due to the way that I think, NONE! Can you come up with one? Whoever took the role of their high school or college mascot and had a measure of self-respect at their class reunions? Back to me if that dread had turned to reality, I can just see myself tromping down some famous hall where I attended college, (every college has those halls with important alumni on their walls--and these alumni achieved strong academic status by contributing hundreds upon hundreds of thousands to their alma mater--thus "The Dr. Stanley Backulous Hall of Theatrical Sciences."

I would lie like a dog if I had to attend my high school or college reunion if I had been our school mascot. "So, Ken, here we are 20 years past our graduation, you still doing those animal mascot gigs?" Then "Mr. Argyle Socks and Sweater Guy" would laugh almost as boisterous as my ex-brother-in-law who scarred my life with that laugh that took a lot of paint in our home.

When the waves of sarcastic laughter subsided, I would lie and say, "no, Todd. I am the head of The Sub-Secretary of Virginia Operations of Homeland Security." And another stuffy crew neck sweater disciple would chime in (thanks to his whiskey on the rocks kicking in), "oh, you, (stutter, stutter) ain't "Buster, The Bull," when we were, (stutter) in school here?" Then the moment that I had dreamed of for over 15 years: I would simply halfway grin and nod to this gang of men who love to wear sweaters. (another great idea for a narrative, huh).

So the question crops up: Why would anyone want to be a high school mascot? Not many like me, but if I had not met that loud-mouth ex-brother-in-law with the battleship guns with shells bigger than a family-size car laughter, I would have made a name for myself while donning the mascot role at Stanford, USC, maybe Alabama, where all of the cheerleaders are centerfold materials and then I could flirt until my heart's content. Who would dare chastise me in front of a sold-out stadium simply for me saying, "Wow, 'Nikki,' what great earlobes you have!"

And besides, working inside (a) high school or college mascot, depending on the weather, would surely be as hot as the Sahara in summer and as bitterly cold in late November. I can stand-up on this truth, for I knew one person who was the high school mascot at my alma mater, Hamilton (Ala.) High School in 2000: the lovely Torrie Frederick, a perky, charismatic charming young woman who stuck it out, put up with a lot of gigging by fans, but made it. She secured her place of honor by fulfilling her quest of being "Bully," our Aggie high school mascot. The downside was obvious: in the early weeks of (that) football season when Frederick began her "Bully" trek, I talked to her on the sidelines after a game when I was covering one of the Hamilton Aggies football games for a local radio station, she looked beaten up, pale and almost ready to pass out.

I just had to ask: "Torrie, dear, why did you want to perform as "Bully," the school mascot?"

Her answer was both mysterious and stunning: "Easy," she said. "I wanted to melt away a few pounds and this worked like a charm." And with one of her sparkling smiles, she walked away.

I could ride this train for another ten miles, but I won't. Probably the worst side of my dread of being a high school mascot would be: attending our high school's 10-year reunion and in these years past high school, I would be praying that no one would remember me being "Bully," in all kinds of weather and heckler-abuse, but as the old saying goes: there's one in every crowd. And when I was finally settled into relaxing my worry of being discovered as our high school mascot, some goober would ultimately ask, "Ken, you old dog! I know that back then you were "Bully!" So how about doing some of those jumps, rolls, and hand stands!"

Sorry, goober. A professional never reveals his secrets. And with that small measure of self-respect, I head for the door to head back home.

14-ft., Spartan at Sparta, WI.
14-ft., Spartan at Sparta, WI. | Source

© 2017 Kenneth Avery

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    • kenneth avery profile image
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      Kenneth Avery 2 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Dear Kari,

      Thank you for the support. Yes, when I worked for our newspaper in town, when he owned the only walk-in theater, we would have to sit down and take about an hour break talking films, Alabama football and life--sure, but THEN, when he let me have it, no harm at all.

      Thank God.

      And thank God for you,Kari.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 2 weeks ago from Ohio

      I am so glad to hear this. It must have been very hard for that man to confess why he joked. I'm glad you two are friends now.

    • kenneth avery profile image
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      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Kari,

      I confess. At the time of 1985, I had changed jobs and to make a long story short, there was this guy, a big advertiser who ran ads with the paper where I worked and for some reason, he just ragged on and on and it was not all funny. Even the boss, his friend before I was, got into the act. Well, a little joking is fine, but that is all these two did.

      And in years to come, he, the instigator, hired my daughter for her first real job and he and I made friends. He told me once in a very fearful way that he had a hard time to tell friends how he felt so he joked.

      With that, things went okay. And we still talk and joke some, but these days, we talk about serious things in life such as spiritual things and such.

      Life, it is said, to be a Great Teacher.

      Thank you, my Dear Friend, Kari, for your tremendous friendship and support.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      I'm glad you can stand it now. I agree, as long as it is not malicious. Some people will never change I guess. They do not realize how much it hurts I suppose.

    • kenneth avery profile image
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      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Howdy, RoadMonkey,

      (Did you notice my rural salutation?)

      You make good points about hiding behind the mask, but knowing the punks at high school games, some might pull my mascot head off and then I'd be exposed--more hurtful jokes and laughter at me.

      And you are right. I would like to read a compilation of love, adventure, tales of young life in Alabama and see it in book form. I hope that I don't appear egotistical.

      Write anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile image
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      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Kari,

      At age 63 right now, I can manage being laughed (at) if the person is really not being malicious. But there WERE a few in my high school class did to this day, do NOT know the difference.

      No way--me being a mascot.

      Maybe a devilish mascot? Never thought of this avenue.

      Write anytime.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      I was wondering, are you able to stand being laughed at now? I agree with RoadMonkey though, many people enjoy the role because it does allow them to do things they wouldn't do as themselves. But I bet it does get a bunch of teasing. :)

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 weeks ago

      For some people, a mascot's costume is a mask that they can hide behind and be everything they never dared do as themselves. I love these stories of life growing up in Alabama. It's oral history, even though written down. It should be collected for local history studies.