Monday, November 19, 2007

Never Underestimate the Power of a Bear Costume

My sister sends me this email on Friday:
I will be flying out early tomorrow morning to LA and returning later that night. I was asked by my supervisors at my internship to go be a part of this political conference. But get this... I have to be in a bear costume! :)
-Steph



The political conference turns out to be the first ever presidential debate to focus solely on global warming and America's energy future. Dennis Kucinich, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were all in attendance.

The reason for the bear costume is because Steph's been interning with the NPCA (National Parks Conservation Association), and they've been using their mascot, Teddy, to raise awareness about the effects of global warming on national parks (www.ElectTeddy.org). So Teddy was scheduled to go to this forum in support of a greener future for America.

The forum sounded interesting, but mostly I was excited to hang out with my sister (and see her in a bear costume). When I meet up with Steph/Teddy she tells me they won't let her in. In fact, they threatened to arrest the bear. There was some major miscommunication and they thought she was there to protest. It was a bummer, but her boss still got us tickets to the debate.

On our way from the parking lot to Wadsworth Theater, we are accosted by two officers.

"We know you're with the group with the bear costume," the lady tells us. "We're gonna need to see some ID."

I tell her our IDs are in the car because we were told not to bring purses in.

"That's fine, ma'am. Go get them."

They follow us to our cars where the main officer proceeds to call me "ma'am." I don't trust anyone who calls me ma'am six times within the same conversation.

"Who are you again?" I ask.

"Investigator Treadwell, ma'am."

So she writes down our information on a piece of paper and I want to laugh because I can only imagine the info they'll pull from my background check.

Natalie DeJohn:

Age 25, received a ticket for not making a complete stop at a stop sign.
Age 16, caused a fender bender.
Age 13, threw a hairbrush at her mother in the midst of a moody teen outburst.

The investigator finally leaves and we think we're in the clear, but a federal agent greets us at the door of the theater and takes us aside.

"We know who you are," he says. "We know you're with the group with the bear. We will not have any protesting or any other disturbances during the forum."

"Okay. We weren't planning--"

"This is a federal matter. And that means the charges will be double. We WILL arrest you and you WILL go to jail. And you probably won't get to see a judge until Tuesday."

He follows this speech with a stern, "We're watching you."

It is both scary and hilarious. It doesn't help that I'm wearing the noisiest heels ever, and each step echoes up the stairs.

"Walk on your tip toes," my sister says.

"Stop whispering so loud. They're watching us!"

We probably look like Lucy and Ethel, bumbling up the stairs and causing an unnecessary ruckus while groping for our seats in the dark and shh-ing each other.

I tried to stay focused on the presidential candidates and their plans for improving America's energy crisis, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Feds.

Are they really watching us? Did they see Steph get dressed in the car? Are we bugged? Can they hear everything we say? How long have they been watching us? Are there cameras in my apartment? Did they see me eating my breakfast yogurt with a measuring spoon this morning? (I swear I'll do the dishes soon).

When I got home, I immediately called my parents to explain to them what happened in the event that I don't show up for Thanksgiving. If I mysteriously disappear one day without a trace, I'm probably being tortured by the Feds. Never underestimate the power of a bear costume.