Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Big, Purple Dinosaur

When my kids were little, Barney the Dinosaur was all the rage. It featured a person in a purple dinosaur suit (voiced by a different person) and a group of elementary-aged children. It was a safe show, with messages of kindness and acceptance, a slow-moving show hosted by a giggling dinosaur. As far as I can tell, not having having little children in my life right now, Barney has faded away. Maybe he has retired and is lying on the beach in Florida. Who knows.

At the height of Barney's fame, the community center down the street from us hosted "Bagels with the Big, Purple Dinosaur" for families with young children. It was a low-key, fun way to spend time together on a weekend morning, and our kids enjoyed the show, so we signed up.

The organizers couldn't name Barney because they didn't have official permission to use the trademarked name - it was probably pretty expensive to hire the "real" Barney. The room was packed with families. After getting our bagels and cream cheese and finding four chairs at a table, a guy in a purple dinosaur suit came in and bounced around to recordings of the real Barney singing songs from the show. My husband Dean and I raised our eyebrows at each other, but the kids were eating it up.

At the end of the program, Barney waved good-bye and left the room. We got ready to leave, too, but Ben needed to go to the restroom, so Dean took him. In the hallway on the way to the bathroom, they caught sight of Barney -- taking his head off. Ben was 6 or 7 at the time and it didn't phase him. But, later from the backseat of the car...

"That wasn't the real Barney," Ben stated.

"Yes, it was," piped Jamie, who was 3 or 4 years old. She was a bigger fan of Barney by this time and also a believer in the magic of talking animals, even if they seemed to live only on TV.

"No, I know it wasn't," said Ben firmly. Parents in the front are hoping he keeps the head incident to himself.

"It was the real Barney. I know. He had a tail," Jamie said firmly, ending the discussion.

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