As I arrived at work the other day, my principal came into my office and asked me if I wanted to do something fun with him.
“Sure thing,” I said.
“Thanks. I need to you be the Green Spy,” he said.
“The Green Spy.”
“Okay,” I said. “What’s the Green Spy?”
“You go around to the classrooms and you give prizes to the students. It’s for Green Ribbon Week.”
“Oh,” I said. That sounded like fun to me. I like going into the classrooms. And Green Ribbon Week is intended to promote safety awareness, so I felt good about being involved. “I could do that,” I said.
“Great!” my principal said. “Come down to my office and get your costume.”
“Wait, I wear a costume?” In that moment I began to experience the first flutters of apprehension over what I had just agreed to, but I followed my principal down the hallway. We went into his office, and he shut the door.
“I was the Green Spy last year,” he said as he pulled a garment bag out of a closet. “But the kids all figured out it was me. I want to throw them off this year.”
He laid the garment bag out on his conference table and unzipped it. Inside was a suit. A green suit. A leprechaun-green suit, with glittery gold dollar signs all over it. It also had really wide cuffs and a fat collar printed with $100-dollar bills, only these Ben Franklin’s wore zebra-stripes and came from “The United States of Funk.”
“Uh…” I said. “What is this?”
“It’s a pimp costume,” he said.
“A what?” That’s when I noticed the matching hat with an exceptionally wide brim.
“Yeah, last year they told me I needed to find a green costume, but when I went to the costume shop this was the only green thing they had.”
“So the Green Spy is really the Green Pimp?”
He laughed. Then he pulled out a Zorro mask. “Last year I also wore this, but it wasn’t enough. So I got something different for this year.
“What?” I asked.
“This.” And he pulled out a green Frankenstein mask.
“This?” I asked.
“Oh. And you also wear this.” He reached deeper into the garment back and pulled out a wig. A long, black, ratty looking wig. Like something shaved from the head of a member of an 80′s metal band.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I wore it last year. Except for the mask.”
By this time, I simply had to laugh and go along with it. I stepped into the restroom to change, careful not to let any children see me. Honestly, I felt like Miss Nelson putting on the Viola Swamp get-up and going missing (it was the black wig that did it). I even arranged my office so it would look like I had just stepped out for a moment. I worried about the costume fitting, but since it was made of a conveniently stretchy and forgiving material, I was able to pull it on. Then the latex mask, the wig, and finally, the pimp hat. I looked in the mirror, and I honestly scared myself.
I took a deep breath and stepped out in the hallway where I startled some PTA moms.
“I’m the Green Spy,” I said as I walked by, attempting to act casual. I hoped they knew what the Green Spy was.
They just stared, so maybe they didn’t.
In the main office, my principal saw me and laughed. “You look awesome! Let’s go get the prizes.” We stepped back into his office, and he pulled out a bag that one of the Green Ribbon Week sponsors had left for the students. We opened it up and looked inside. It was filled with ball-point pens, key chains, and little breath mint dispensers, all with the name of a local insurance agency printed on them. The kind of freebies you see in little baskets on receptionists’ desks that no one ever takes.
“These are the prizes?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Let me make a call.”
So I hung out in the costume, trying to avoid the hallways where I might be seen, until my principal found me. He had the bag of “prizes” with him. “We’ll go ahead and use these. The kids will love them.”
I shrugged. “So I just give one to every student?”
“No, just the ones wearing green.”
I stopped. “Um. I’m color-blind.”
“So what do you see?”
“I just can’t tell certain colors apart.”
“Red and green.”
“So how am I supposed to–”
“The teachers will help you. Let’s go.”
So I walked with him down the kindergarten hall, a Frankenstein Colorblind Pimp Monster, hoping to somehow spot the kids who were wearing green through a mask that was getting pretty… moist. “How should I talk?” I asked my principal. “Like, what kind of voice should I use?”
“Any voice you want,” he said. “I’m going in first to turn off the lights, then I’ll turn them back on when you walk in.”
So he did, and I stepped through the door, and he turned the lights on.
Several kids in the class screamed. All of them looked frightened. Their poor teacher even jumped a little, but realized that I was apparently the Green Spy she had heard would be coming through.
“Look kids!” she said.
“It’s a green monster!” one of the students shouted.
“No,” she said. “It’s the Green Spy!”
And here, I spoke. Don’t ask me why I chose the voice I did. I don’t really know. I was trying to sound, you know, sneaky. Like a spy telling a secret. But instead it came out sounding like a raspy old witch. “I’m the Green Spy!” I hissed. “I’m here to give you a prize! Who’s wearing green?”
No one raised their hand. I don’t think they wanted me to come any closer.
I looked around. “Who’s wearing green?” I asked again. Seriously, who’s wearing green?
“Raise your hands if you have green on,” my principal said.
Hands went up, and I made the rounds with my bag of crap. And the kids really did seem to like the prizes after all. Especially the keychains. I finished handing it all out, and said, “I’ll be back next year!” but it sounded less like a good thing and more like a threat.
“That was great!” my principal said out in the hallway. “Let’s go to the next class.”
We repeated that for every room in the building. First grade to sixth. Every class tried to guess who I was, but none of them did. Some even claimed I was the principal, even though he was standing right next to me. I tried different voices throughout the morning, even doing my best James Bond with a vaguely British accent. And soon I was back in the bathroom, staring at the mirror in a state of semi-disbelief before I removed the Frankenstein mask and pimp suit. The wig had left my hair in a matted, sweaty mess, so I waited a few minutes for it to dry so as not to give out any clues to my identity (Clark Kent would be proud). I replaced the costume in the garment bag and returned to my office.
A little while later, a couple of students came by to ask me if I knew who the Green Spy was. I just shrugged and tossed them some red herring clues about the custodian and the assistant principal. Something about a black wig I saw in one of their closets. The students left, and I smiled, and I thought about what a cool job I have. But if I get to be the Green Spy next year, I think I’ll try a Tony the Tiger voice instead. Not very spy-ish, but hopefully less frightening.
Now, if you truly want to see the costume, click here (and notice how none of the kids are standing near me).