Sunday, September 14, 2003

Sweating It Out

Thousands of people around you are sweating. You wish you could sweat like them. But on this particular evening in late August you are really sweating. You are sweating like a man in the front row of a church that had just slept with the preacher’s daughter.

In the next two hours you’ll lose about four-to-six pounds in pure sweat. The short shorts you wore with the T-shirt and turtleneck and your knee-high socks might as well have been in a thunder shower because there’s a huge puddle left over after you wring them out.

But even though it’s about 40 degrees hotter around you than it is for the 50,000 people nearby, you love it. It’s a blast! After all, you are dressed up as Ramses, the UNC mascot. And it is the home opener against perennial football-power Florida State.

If you’re Andrew Head, one of three people that will rotate wearing the heavy Ramses costume during the course of the game, it feels like you’re wearing a huge coat with a football helmet on. But you tend to forget that when you run out of the locker room tunnel with the UNC flag in hand. Behind you is a pack of frenzied football players, hoisting their helmets in the air as the crowd erupts. You forget you normally can’t hear someone while wearing the costume unless they talk directly into your eyes or scream. And for a moment you forget about the thick layer of foam padding and fur – about two or three inches of solid insulation – on the Ramses’ head. On this particular day it is the loudest the crowd will get, and you realize you’re one of the reasons.

“It’ll give you the cold chills,” said Head, who is in his fourth year as mascot, but is more of a mascot coach this year. “It will give you cold chills for sure.”

Did you say “cold?” But even without the exuberance and chills you get, you’d still be obligated to run out the flag during the pre-game celebration by the football players. After all, it started two years earlier when you ran out the flag and the UNC team ended the FSU dynasty with a 41-9 win. And as it turned out, every game you (Head) ran out the flag that season the team won. While every time you didn’t run it out, it lost. But you didn’t pick up on the trend. The players did. And that is why the football team still gets extra excited when you carry out the flag. That’s why you rode to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl two years earlier despite not expecting to go on the trip.

Since you started putting on the Carolina blue and white costume, you’ve noticed how superstitious the team is. Gosh, even with a gazillion pairs of sneakers the women’s basketball team receives, some players still have to wear a lucky pair.

You’ve also noticed fans can be a little kooky. Like the time an ECU fan punched you in the face during the game two years ago. No, it wasn’t Head who took the punch. It was John Colpitts, who with Scott Jansen complete this year’s trio. They were the lucky three that survived tryouts, which take place in the fall and spring at the same time as cheerleading tryouts.

“We’ll put them in a suit and it’s kind of a charisma thing,” Head said. “Some people just look good in the suit. Some people don’t.”

When they decided that you looked good in the suit you went to a bunch of pre-game events first before stepping out in front of 50,000 people. But once you started putting on the suit on Saturdays in the fall, what fun!

Sure you have no peripheral vision. Sure you have to drink gatorade “like it is going out of style” during games like the FSU one. Sure you don’t get to see much of the game. But you’re the one that jumps up in the air with excitement when you see the crowd jump up in the air. You are the one that dances alongside the band conductor. And how about crowd-surfing on top of the band? You love that!

Besides that jerk from ECU, everyone seems to love you as well. Everywhere you walk, you get smiles and high-fives. To Toddlers, you’re like a big stuffed animal.

And it doesn’t seem like you mind taking a photograph with three attractive UNC girls in the front row. During the second half, you shoot T-shirts into a sea of eager hands. You are amazed what people will do for a free T-shirt – even leaning over the upper-deck railing so they can catch it. That is why you try to shoot the shirts into the upper or lower deck. You don’t want any casualties at a football game.

A safer activity you enjoy is the prearranged skit with opponents’ mascots. For instance at the Syracuse game, you watched the Orangeman get down on his knees and beg for mercy. But you didn’t show any, and you got a huge cheer of approval from the student section when you put the Orangeman on a life-sized orange squeezer, pretending to squeeze out juice.

You got some gig being the mascot. Well, at least minus the times when there is only one Ramses suit and you have to get sloppy seconds.

“It’s cold and wet,” Hand said. “It’s disgusting and nasty and it smells bad. And it’s somebody else’s sweat.”

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

i have sweating problem, and i dont worry about it. i have to experiment with different deodorants, if none work too well , i try the new 'sure' one. if its still bad go to the doctors and they can give somthing (:

Anonymous said...

מצאתי אתר מעולה שאפשר להכיר בו בחינם :)

Anonymous said...

מצאתי אתר מעולה שאפשר להכיר בו בחינם :)
הכרויות בחינם

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