Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Embracing my Inner Wookie

No time for food when you're a Wookie.

There is odd, there is peculiar, there is befuddling, and then there is the message that was left on my voice mail by the community pastor of my church a few weeks ago which was a surreal combination of all these synonyms. Sadly, the actual message was mistakenly erased and lost for all time, which is a real shame, because it was a beauty! It went something like this…

“Hey Craig, it’s Brian Gray! Listen, I have a role for you to play after our service this coming Tuesday. When I thought of everyone at our church, there was only one person that came to mind who would be perfect for this role, and that person is you. I wanted to see if you would be willing to be Chewbacca for us. I need someone who is tall enough for the costume and also outgoing enough to ham it up a little bit. We have the costume for you and everything, and I can work with you on making the right ‘Chewbacca’ sounds if you like. (He then proceeded to make Chewbacca sounds over the phone to my machine) Anyway, can you give me a call and let me know if you’d be willing? Thanks!”

So, I have to say on the scale of weird messages I have received in my life, this one is easily number one on the list, and it is so far ahead of whatever might be second that the list really begins and ends here. Who hasn’t received a message from one of their pastors asking them if they would be willing to be Chewbacca for church the next day?? That’s normal, right? Actually, the best part was when he made the actual Chewbacca noises. I’m so sad that this message got deleted, as it was one of the more fantastic goofy pieces of recorded sound I have ever heard.

The best part is that Brian was 100% correct. I was the perfect guy for the job. I imagine the real Chewbacca may have been a bit taller than my 6’3, but he couldn’t have been too much bigger so I definitely had the tall thing down pat. Plus, I have no issue with wearing crazy embarrassing costumes, and to prove this point, I give you exhibit A, which is me dressing up as the Cher portion of the Sonny and Cher duo for a costume contest that was held at work. So I had the elusive combo of being tall and not afraid to wear a silly costume and play it up.

Yup, that's me as Cher. I'm very attractive in a dress.

I called Brian back right away to tell him I would be happy to be his Chewbacca. There was an actual reason for this silliness, our teaching pastor Dave is transitioning out of his position in order to be a missionary in Mozambique, and that night was actually going to be his last talk. Dave is a big fan of Star Wars, 80’s hair bands, and Southern California. There was a reception that was being held afterwards where there were going to be several stations where people could take photos with some of Dave’s favorite things. There was a station where people could dress up like 80’s rockers, a station with a surf board and In-N-Out signs where they could and of course the Stars Wars station, which had a few toy light-sabers and me.

Our services are held on Tuesday nights, which is awesome because I am able to go to church and never miss a football game, which is a good thing in my book. (Actually, there are a lot of awesome things about my church, and if you live in the Denver metro area, I highly recommend checking it out. Here is our website…www.TNL.org)

I showed up about twenty minutes earlier than usual for church that night so that I could try on the Chewy costume and get the lay of the land. When I arrived, the costume was there, but the head was missing. I tried on the body of the costume which was basically a full body suit made up of brown shag carpet. It fit me just fine, although I could tell that I was going to be warm. I took the costume off and went to the service.

The service was actually a very emotional goodbye from Dave, who has been the teaching pastor at our church for around nine years. He is leaving on good terms, and has helped in getting the new guy acclimated, which has been pretty cool, but saying good bye is never easy. It was a great service, but as soon as the message was over and the congregation started singing, I excused myself and made a beeline for the community room where the reception would take place. Chewbacca’s head had arrived, and I clad myself in the full Chewbacca suit and practiced my Wookie calls.

It’s a strange sensation to be dressed up in a costume in a crowd. The odd thing is that I felt somewhat self-conscious at first, but when you’re dressed up like a giant walking carpet, it’s rather difficult to be inconspicuous. I couldn’t just stand around, so I started trying to interact with the people. It didn’t take too long for my silly side to come out, and before long I was pretending to hit on the women in the crowd, giving the children high fives and giving giant bear hugs to guys that I barely know. It was fantastic fun. I may have creeped out a few of the people who didn’t know who I was, and I know without a doubt that I permanently traumatized at least three or four small children, but I was having a blast.

Even my own kids were extremely wary of the costume, until I briefly took off the mask to reveal who I was to them. After that, Ellie thought that I was funny, but Luke was still a bit wary of me. I felt terrible about the kids who saw me and immediately ran away in terror, but when you’re 6’3 and wearing a Wookie costume, there is only so much you can do to be non-threatening. I was apparently very scary.
My kids were definitely a bit nervous at first...

...but they warmed up to Father Chewbacca

The down side to dressing up in a full body suit of shag is that it tends to get hot rather quickly. That Tuesday had been rather warm and the church building was packed with people so the body heat was doing a good job of warming the room. Add to my fuzzy suit the latex mask and gloves that breathed about as well as an iron lung in an Amish community, and you have yourself one sweaty recipe, just add Craig and mix in a room for about 45 minutes. Since I am as blind as Mr. McGoo I had to keep my glasses on which was difficult to do under the mask. The fact that I was sweating profusely under the mask made it even harder to keep my glasses on, and the fact that my glasses made it hard to look out the eye holes combined to make me a very sight challenged Wookie.

I think that the mask is actually supposed to be pinned to your hair to keep it in place on your head, but as my hairstyle could best be described as Q-Ball, no such luck for me, so the mask wobbled on my head as I tried to keep my eyes sort of lined up with the eye holes as best as possible. Suffice to say that my visibility was less than ideal. Since the kids who were not afraid of me were enjoying coming up to me, I was a little afraid that I might do an unintentional Wookie body slam to some poor five year old, so I was trying to be careful as I moved. Fortunately, no physical harm was inflicted upon any children, and hopefully the emotional damage was kept to a minimum.
Not all the children were scared of me.
Some of the kids downright loved me!

The one surprising element to me is how the ladies love Wookies, as you can see from the pictures. Chewbacca had plenty of attention from the fairer sex. Since I am a happily married Wookie, this didn’t do much for me, but it did give me an idea to share with anyone who is having difficulty getting a date…dress like a Wookie. Seriously, You won’t be able to keep the ladies off of you! Just a bit of dating advice.
Chicks dig Wookies!
Chewy = Chick Magnet

The women seriously can't get enough of Chewbacca!

After about forty-five minutes and a whole bunch of photographs, I had sweat enough to fill a gallon jug and the crowd was dispersing so I decided my time as Chewbacca was ready to come to an end. I removed the costume, and gave it back to the woman who had brought it, and took my kids home with my mission accomplished. I have now joined that elite fraternity of people who have dressed up like Chewbacca for their church. We are truly the few and the proud.

It ain't easy being a Wookie.


Unknown said...

Fun post!

Debra said...

Sam (2.5) just asked again today, "Bacca no get me? Bacca all gone?"

Ben (7) won't even talk about it. He's buried the trauma deep.