When I was a kid, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and space, two core pillars of the geek soul.
I thought about dinosaurs all the time. I looked for “fossils” in the rocks in the backyard. I begged my parents to take me to museums with bones. I had a string that was carefully measured to be the exact length of a diplodocus, and I would unroll it around the house to marvel at how long it was. And I read lots and lots of books; not stupid kids books, reference books. Back then, if you named a dinosaur, I could tell you Triassic, Jurassic, or Cretaceous without blinking.
My favorite dinosaur was an ankylosaurus. I liked it because it was small and tough, but more obscure than the triceratops, which was way too mainstream for an awesome dino-hunter like me. I was too cool for triceratops.
I was a dinosaur hipster.
And who could forget my amazing television debut, when, wearing my favorite dinosaur shirt, Happy the Hobo asked asked me if I would ride a tyrannosaurus rex, to which I snottily (and scientifically appropriately) responded, “If I saw one.”
So naturally, when it came time to make Halloween costumes, I wanted a dinosaur. And a dinosaur I had. My parents helped me make a giant t-rex costume out of an old washing machine box. The box was spray painted in what I was sure was “authentic” t-rex colors, and I wore it with my arms sticking out. I could see by peering out of the mouth, which was propped open with a couple of school rulers.
I would love to show you a picture of the costume (or even just check to see if it was as awesome as I remember it), but I guess one doesn’t exist. I don’t remember seeing any pictures of it, and I don’t have a copy. Mom, surely we must have taken a picture?
Anyway, the story gets weirder.
So I took my costume to the Roller Dome for their Halloween costume contest. Which means, not only was I a giant t-rex, I was a giant ROLLER SKATING t-rex.
Now, you might be surprised to hear that a t-rex is not designed for roller skating (although, think about *that* for a minute. Apex predator indeed…). Due to my view-port in the gaping mouth, I had no peripheral vision. Also, people (who I couldn’t see) kept skating over my tail, something I do *not* recommend doing to an actual tyrannosaurus (though, feel free to ride one, if you see one). All of this made it extremely difficult to skate in, but I was hell on wheels and I made do.
Finally, it was the big moment: the winners of the costume contest were announced. All the clowns, vampires, and rock stars lined up, and I rolled up next to them. The baddest roller skating dinosaur you’ve ever seen.
An the winner goes to…
::record scratch:: Dragon?
I mean, I liked dragons. LOVED dragons, even. But I was a god damned dinosaur, as anyone with half a brain could see. Do I look fictional to you? Do you see any scientifically inaccurate wings on my back? Why don’t you skate over here and say that to my face? (Which is capable of exerting one of the largest bite forces among all terrestrial animals, I’ll have you know!)
I was not pleased. A dragon, of all things.
I didn’t want to go up and get the prize, promised, as it was, to some doofus dressed as a dragon, but they were motioning me forward, and I did win the prize after all, even if there was a gross misunderstanding about what I was, precisely, and I had the best costume, after all, because if they thought a dragon costume was better than everybody, imagine how much MORE impressed they would be if they knew it was actually a dinosaur…
So a roller skating dragon went up and collected his prize.
And that is how I learned what it means to sell out.