It all started innocently enough a few days into the New Year of 2002.
My wife Sue and I attended a home game of the Western Hockey League team of which my oldest brother works for.
We noticed that during the evening there was no appearance of the team mascot "Jack the Giant" and although it was a minor detail I brought the question up to my brother as to where "Jack" was.
He then informed me that the fellow who was playing the part had quit doing it because he was going back to school and they hadn't found a replacement yet.
Apparently they had gone through 3 or 4 people as the mascot before they finally settled on the last individual and the organization wasn't looking forward to having to go through this process again.
"Oh," I said, "That's too bad." This is where I thought the conversation would end.
The next evening I got a call from my brother who told me that I was going to be the mascot for the next three home games until they could get a replacement.
I thanked him for volunteering me without my permission, and then tried to process how in the world I was going to do this.
"You're an actor!" my brother said, "Act like a mascot!" "How hard is that?!"
Well, I had been a mascot back in my college days, but that was almost 20 years ago.
I wasn't a youth anymore but I thought I'd "give it the old college try."
I went to work recalling all the gags, and schtick I did as well as getting some props together that I used to use.
Game day came and for the first time in a long while I was nervous about performing in front of thousands of people.
Armed with my bottled water, props, and Pepto Bismal (for my nervous stomach) I entered the Coliseum feeling somewhat like a Christian being thrown to the lions.
I was made to feel even uneasier when the mascot escort I was assigned with informed me that the last guy to do this job was half my age.
Needless to say the aspect of a balding, gray haired, old guy being the new mascot didn't sit well with the production staff.
I apprehensively donned my costume and went out to perform.
I led the team out onto the ice and turned to the opposing team's bench and indicated to their coach by pinching my character's nose that "You guys stink!" and through other non-verbal communication that they were "going down."
The crowd loved it!
During the course of the first period I scared the opposing team's trainer so hard he spilled water all over his players.
After that I could do no wrong.
When the referee made a bad call I was right there with a giant eye chart for him to read.
I flirted with all the pretty girls in the crowd.
When one of the visiting team members was in the penalty box for fighting (he lost) I hung a sign behind him that read "Wimpy."
The "wave" was going, prizes were being tossed around, and laughter, cheering and applause flowed like the beer at the concession stands.
I had found a new home.
The game ended, and although we lost by two goals that night the crowd enjoyed themselves.
I returned to the dressing room about 5 pounds lighter from sweating so much and was met at the door by the producer.
"Fantastic!" he said as he shook my hand, "We've never had the crowd respond like this before."
"Is there any chance you can stay until next weekend as well?" "Gordie Howe will be here and we need our best man." "Sure, anything for Gordie," I replied.
The point of this story is this.
Often times we feel inadequate to do our jobs, or we feel that we have little or nothing to offer people.
We feel that there is always someone younger, or better that will come along soon and take our place.
That is so far from the truth.
So what if you're not in the prime of your life anymore and able to do everything you used to.
And maybe the saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is true for you.
Sometimes those tricks that old dog knows are better than any new ones.
That's the fact Jack!