Monday, May 30, 2011

Tales from the Merch Table

I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog that my beloved Rhea is one of Westchester County’s most beloved children’s entertainers.  This is something she possesses a great talent for.   Anyone can be taught to sing or dance, but to have that pull, that pied-piper star quality, is something you’ve got to be born with.  Don’t let anybody fool you, either: children are far more discerning – and far less tolerant of things that seem fake or false to them – than they are often given due credit for.  My contributions to the business of being Miss Rhea are far more back-line; no one, child or adult, is about to go out of their way to see me sing or dance, so I mostly just help brainstorm ideas, lug equipment around, and help keep the e-mail list running smoothly when it threatens to go kerflooey.

This past Saturday, I had cause to step out from behind the curtain for the first time in a while.  Rhea was hired to play the opening day of the Pleasantville Farmers Market.  When the event organizers described the gig to her, they made it clear that she’d have her own tent to perform under with an adjacent table that she could use to distribute information about her services and/or sell merchandise.  So, for the first time in my life, I found myself spending Saturday morning on the non-wallet-emptying side of a merch table; irony writ large for the kind of dude whose wardrobe is half made up of concert t-shirts.

Truth be told, I always feel a bit weird hanging around while Miss Rhea is performing: I never want to look like the creepy dude who’s hanging around scoping out a kid’s event.  I’m sure I’m over-cautious about this; I’m sure it’s just the years of retail work and Code Adam training playing tricks and casting shadows in my mind, but I never want to inadvertently make a child or parent even the slightest bit uneasy.  Somehow, all of these disparate threads – merch table, t-shirts, discomfort level – made friends in my head and hatched a brainstorm: witness the first official Miss Rhea t-shirt.

If I were half the genius I'm claiming to be, I'd have photographed the actual shirt.  Imagine this image (in far higher quality) on a white ringer t-shirt instead, if you will.  Danke.

Now sharply outfitted, and cool as a cucumber as a result, I took my place behind the table with aplomb: flyers and business cards handed out, hands shook, e-mail addresses collected, babies complimented, potential customers schmoozed without smarm.  One or two even asked if they could buy a t-shirt like the one I was wearing.  Seriously, folks: if this writing and back-to-college thing doesn’t pan out for some reason, I’m thinking of becoming the next Sham-Wow guy…without the whole “punched-by-a-hooker” thing to deal with.  Alright, maybe not, but sometimes it really is a blast to do something completely outside your normal box for a few hours; proving successful at it is just the icing on the cake.

It had also been some time since I’ve had the opportunity to watch a Miss Rhea performance.  It’s truly amazing what can come out of the mouths of babes; as evidence, I offer this exchange between Westchester’s most beloved children’s entertainer and a red-haired child of three or four or so, wearing a hoodie:

Hoodie Boy: Sing a song about Indians!

Miss Rhea: What kind of Indians, sweetie?  There’s more than one kind.

Hoodie Boy, slightly exasperated: You know, Indians.  They used to be around here a long, long time ago.  [At this point, he actually puts his hand on his hip.]  Some of them like to be called Native Americans.

Miss Rhea: Well, okay, I might know a song like that.  [To the assembled parents:] I learn things all the time in this job!

Girl behind Hoodie Boy, obviously either relative or family friend: Shut up!  [She grabs him by the hood and yanks him further back into the crowd.]

Somehow, dear readers, I have a feeling that these two tykes will be reprising roles strikingly similar to the ones I’ve just described for years and years to come.  Call it a hunch.

While we’re busy schmoozing, if you’re in the Westchester County/Tri-State area and are interested in the best children’s entertainment available, you should like Miss Rhea on Facebook by following this link right here.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.

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