97% Pout-Free

Elizabeth Bluemle -- October 30th, 2015

Costume events are pretty hilarious, because they’re really meant for the wrong people. Costumed characters generally make little children cry, and make grown-ups smile goofy smiles like little kids. Okay, those are both exaggerations. Lots of kids adore meeting their plush heroes and heroines, and some grownups remain sadly unmoved by encounters with oversized fuzzy whimsy. On Thursday, we were fortunate to have not a single tear wept at the fins of the Pout-Pout Fish, and we did receive many childlike grins from grownups driving by the waving light-blue sea creature outside our bookstore.

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One mom saw the fish and pulled a fast left into our parking lot. She came over carrying a beaming tiny tot. “You don’t understand!” she said excitedly. “This is our son’s VERY FAVORITE BOOK! We have to read it every night. He [indicating the fish] is the hero of our house right now! I just called my husband to tell him we would be home late.” She turned to her son. “What does Pout-Pout Fish say?” And together they chanted, “Glub Glub Glub!” Let me tell you, hearing a not-quite-one-year-old say “glub glub glub!” in a tiny bright voice with a big open smile will pretty much make anyone’s day. It’s a little bit possible that the Pout-Pout Fish chanted along with them, but since costume characters aren’t supposed to talk at all, it didn’t happen. The mom and her son were overjoyed to discover some Pout-Pout books they hadn’t read yet in addition to the brand-new one.

Little A. meeting his hero:

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Some toddlers were a little cautious, but we finally did get this guy to high-fin the fish:

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I’ve found that using a happy but calm voice and gently patting the costume character on the head or hand helps small people trust that these giant creatures come to life aren’t going to suddenly turn on them.

Not everyone was convinced. Lola had her doubts:

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A surprising number of grownups and even a few teenagers wanted their picture taken with the Pout-Pout Fish. One adult suggested getting a fishing pole and chasing the fish down the street, but we felt that wasn’t quite in the spirit of the thing. Though it would have been a priceless visual.

The only human pouts we encountered were one from a seven-year-old boy whose father made the mistake of suggesting his son might want to meet the Pout-Pout Fish (I’m not sure it was as much about feeling too old for it as the fact that he didn’t want to be seen as being too old; remember those tender years?) and another from a truck driver who wouldn’t pull his horn. I’m sorry, but when a 5’5″ furry fish pumps an aquatic arm at you, you honk! We got tons of happy beeps from smiling grownups in every kind of car and truck imaginable before the grumpy guy came along. To be fair, though, he was driving a tractor-trailer and a police car up ahead had pulled over a pickup towing lawn mower gear, leaving limited passing space. I’d probably frown, too.

Since those two weren’t officially participants at our event, maybe we can claim that we were 99% pout-free. That 1% is, of course, the Pout-Pout-Fish himself. And look at that face — it’s practically a smile!

IMG_5123Thanks to the Pout-Pout Fish for waving, dancing, high-fiving, bending down to little kids’ levels, and generally being a most cheerful piscine presence!