“You want me to be Barney? As in Barney the dinosaur?”
”We don’t use that word in our profession it could get us sued. We refer to him as a ‘ purple dino type.’ Now let’s work on some balloon animals.”
By now, you all know that I AM a Purple Dino Type… But perhaps you’re wondering how I became a purple dino type.
Well, once upon a time in Los Angeles, there was this guy who was down and out on his luck (me). I had witnessed a woman commit suicide by jumping off a bridge onto a freeway, my 3 year old nephew had passed away and my roommate decided he would do us a “favor” and blow his brains out. And this all happened within a 6 month period. Good times.
After much debate and inner turmoil about whether or not to return home to New Hampshire, where going to Walmart is considered exciting, I decided to give good ol’ LA another go. But I was going to need another job. After all, what actor in Los Angeles doesn’t need more than one job?
As it happened, my pot-head friend Stan had been trying to convince me for the past year and a half to give kids’ birthday parties a chance. Kids’ birthday parties? When I was a kid, an exciting birthday party was one where we got to go to Burger King with a group of friends and wear a paper crown for the day. Here in LA, an exciting birthday party apparently included a bounce, a petting zoo and an entertainer to make sure all the ADD kids are kept out of their parents’ hair. Because God forbid they should have to actually parent their kids. That’s where the “purple dino type” enters the picture.
So in my desperation to remain in LA, I decided to let Stan talk me into fooling his bosses into thinking that I was a kids’ party pro so that I could perform at a party the next day. His bosses had a reputable company, and would obviously be reluctant to let a complete stranger perform at a party for their clients without being assured that this person was competent. And so the lessons began: Clowning 101 was officially in session.
Stan went over basic balloon animals: cat, dog, horse, hat, sword and glasses. Strange that these were the “basics,” I know. He gave me a quick overview of the basic flow of a party. And with that, we were ready to go meet the bosses.
“Oh, by the way,” Stan said, “I told them you’ve been doing this for years. So put on your actor’s hat and pretend you’re a pro, OK?”
I drove us there in the pouring rain, the whole time going over balloon animals in my head. OK, I can do this, I thought to myself. When we arrived at the house, the bosses were apparently having a party of their own. We wandered through a sea of people until finding them, and then Stan made his big introductions.
“Jason, meet Ross and Rachel. Ross and Rachel, meet Jason.”
After the introductions, we made some small talk. It didn’t take long, however, before Ross dove right into the 3rd degree.
“So what parachute games do you play?”
Parachute games? What the fuck? Were these kids’ birthday parties or espionage? I had no idea what the hell he was talking about, and I’m sure the blank expression on my face gave that away.
“Which ones do you like?” I asked him hoping to get the heat off of me. It didn’t work.
Ross went on to say, “Oh you know, the regular games.”
“I make balloon animals,” I quickly interjected, trying to point out something I actually did know.
“Really? Before or after you do the parachute?”
Son of a bitch! Now he was just being cruel.
By now it was so painfully evident that I had no clue what he was talking about that it was even killing me. I wanted to throw my hands up and call it a day. “You got me. I have no fucking clue what the fuck I’m talking about. Game over. Thanks for playing.”
But miraculously, just when I thought Ross was going to call my bluff, he smiled and said, “Have fun at the party tomorrow.”
Did that really just happen? Was this really my introduction into the world of kids’ parties? You bet your ass it was.
Back at Stan’s place, he pulled out a parachute and showed me what it was and how to use it. It was literally a parachute, except that instead of being big and white, it was big and very colorful. Maybe this was espionage after all.
As I was leaving Stan’s, he could tell I was nervous about performing at my first kids’ party ever, so he offered some words of “comfort.”
“Remember, you’re an actor. So act like Barney.”
“That’s Mr. Purple Dino Type to you,” I replied, as I walked down the stairs and onward toward an adventure where the good guy always wins. Well, usually, anyway.
I AM a Purple Dino Type.