A very brief account of the day I picked my son up from school dressed as Paul Stanley from Kiss.
I did not start out the day expecting to descend on the East Oro Public School in the guise of a lurid, cross-dressed, face painted, high heeled, star-child. My only directive that afternoon was to join my fellow air-band members on stage at our school’s year end assembly and proceed to rock and roll all night (well, period four anyway) and party every day.
Let the record show that I will take any chance I get to play rock star and preen about on the stage, so of course the chance to be Kiss, the Holy Grail of dress-up, was too good to pass over. However, if one is going to tackle impersonating the Motor-city rockers, there is simply no way to go but full throttle, lest one run the risk of making a fool of oneself. (My mantra says squeezing into one’s wife’s black tights is only foolish if you do it badly). Under this counsel, my mates and I went the extra mile to prepare for our big show stopper. Weeks of construction with glue guns and studs, fiber-glassing high boots and searching for just the right wig. I stuck to a steady diet of brown liquor, Red-Bull and Skittles, just to get my body acclimatized to the R&R lifestyle. No one could question our dedication and on the day of the assembly, we were over an hour in costume and makeup getting ready. That’s show biz for you.
We rocked the house in a blur of lights and smoke the likes of which our school stage hasn’t seen since Glass Tiger played the school dance back in 1987. Needless to say, all the effort was too great to be wasted on three minutes of glory, and after the performance, I jokingly announced that I was going to go pick up the boy from school dressed in full regalia. There were some ha ha’s all around, and then I heard the devil on my shoulder say to my endorphin riddled and highly suggestible brain, “Yes, that is a very good idea. You should go pick up the boy dressed like this. It will be cool!”
And so… barring any disregard for my own safety, I hopped in the car with my 5 inch platform boots and headed on down the highway. I probably should have taken at least my right boot off to get some traction on the pedal, but I had too much adrenalin going and plus they are an absolute bitch to get off. I was just leaving the parking lot, when I had a niggling feeling that I should probably call ahead to the school and let them know I was coming, so as not to trigger a Level 5 lockdown as soon as I walked through the doors. I immediately had visions of a swat team being deployed to come and take out the weirdo who had arrived to scare the children. I called ahead and spoke to the secretary, as per protocol, when you are picking up a child early.
“Just wanted to let you know that I will be picking up Kelton at 3pm.”
“That’s fine Mr. McEwen. He’ll be all ready to go. Is there anything else?”
“No. Well yes, sort of. You know Kiss? The Band?”
“Of course. Dreadful band.”
“Well I’m in costume as one of them, and I was hoping to go right down to Kelton’s classroom and sort of…surprise him.”
Okay, now it was starting to sound weird when I had to explain myself to a grownup.
“So, maybe you could let the principal know, you know, just so it doesn’t get weird.”
“I can’t wait.” She said.
I arrived 10 minutes later, parked the car and sat for maybe 30 seconds contemplating what I was about to do. There was no backing out now, so I took a deep breath and headed for the front doors. As I entered the building, there was a tiny kid, about grade three, coming down the otherwise empty hall towards me. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw me, as though she had just witnessed an Alien in a fistfight with Santa Claus. Then her survival instinct kicked in and she shot into the girls bathroom, disappearing as quick as a wink. Poor kid, her parents will never believe her.
The secretary immediately burst out laughing when she saw me, which was enough to announce my arrival to the principal who came out of her office with her camera ready. She was very accommodating and I had my picture taken for the fiftieth time that day, presumably for the school website. Then she escorted me down to Kelton’s classroom where apparently, no one had told the teacher Mr. J, exactly what was happening, because he looked pretty shocked when I walked in.
I threw up my hands in the double devil salute and stood there to absolute silence for about 20 seconds. Every mouth was open and all eyes were as big as pie plates. Finally, one girl in the front row blurted out, “KISS!”
“You got it!” I said.
“Hello son!” I said, pointing directly at Kelton, who, for not the first time, was convinced that I was not his real dad.
Then it was 20 questions for a while.
“Do you always dress up at high school? Where are the other guys? Why are you here?”
So while the boy was grabbing his stuff, the principal insisted that I visit the grade 8 class, so they could bear witness to the crazy times they were sure to encounter at High School next year. Eventually, when I was through my tenure as show and tell object, we left.
I tried to gauge the boy’s reaction on the way home, but he was fairly silent. In awe of his old man probably. Or in shock from emotional trauma. Poor little guy....look at him there, trying not to cry.