Wednesday, March 20, was a big day. Everything changed and nothing will ever be the same. For the University, and for me.
The big news is Xavier announced its joining the Big East Conference. Great. Let’s go X. The even bigger news, though, was that for a day I was D’Artagnan.
I am student writer for Xavier magazine, and I usually don’t leave the little office hole they shove all the students in. I joked with my boss that she should let me cover the big announcement later that day, if only to grab whatever free stuff they would be giving out. I thought nothing would come of it. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
I went back to my desk and started to work when Doug walked in. Doug is the Executive Director of the Office of Communications, so he is my boss’s boss’s boss.
“Can you do something for us?” he asked.
When your boss’s boss’s boss asks you that question, you don’t hesitate with your answer, and I didn’t.
“Great,” he said. “We need a D’Artagnan for the event today. The usual one can’t make it. You’ll have fun.”
Before I knew it I was putting on the D’Artagnan costume. The costume may look simple from afar, but it is, in reality, a puzzle of nine different pieces. I even had to enlist the help of two cheerleaders to figure out how to put the jacket/cape on. In my defense there had to be 15 or more buttons on that thing and there isn’t exactly a “This side up” sign written on it. But eventually, I got it on. The last thing I needed to do was put on the head, which took immense concentration on my behalf. I had to get in character, so I stared D’Artagnan in the face and contemplated questions all mascots ask themselves: What’s my motivation? What’s the proper high-five form? How do I upstage the Blue Blob? What is the Blue Blob?
Feeling at one with the character, I put on the head.
I then walked up to the Cintas Center and was overwhelmed with the size of the turnout. As a cast member of several theater productions here on campus, as well as a member of the fencing club, I felt somewhat qualified to represent a 17th century swashbuckling musketeer. Still, being the official University mascot was a huge responsibility. So I took a deep breath and headed in.
Inside the building, I gave out countless high fives and hugs. My pride was somewhat bruised when I realized that more people wanted a photo with D’Artagnan than they do with the real me. As time passed, I got more and more into the role.
A few of my friends were in the crowd, and when I found them, I started dancing for them, giving them high-fives and making a genuine fool of myself—an easy task at any time, I will admit, but even easier when hidden behind an oversized foam head with someone else’s face on it. Later that day, I ran into them and asked if they had seen D’Artagnan.
“Did you think he was a good dancer?” I asked.
They were confused until I revealed D’Artagnan’s real identity. When I showed them a photo, we shared a good laugh.
One of my friends asked how it was in the costume, which all I could say was “Hot.” I probably lost about ten pounds in the suit, and it was impossible to see out of the mask. I have to applaud mascots everywhere who sacrifice their vision to dance around for the entertainment of others.
But there was one thing that made blinding darkness and the heat worth it. A little girl and her mother came up to me. The little girl could not have been more than six years old and barely made it up to my waist. She wanted a picture with D’Artagnan. After her mom took the photo, the little girl turned and gave me a hug.
It was the best hug ever.