“I Was a Teenage Beer Keg”

by Sam Buntz

Well, only twice, actually—I was a teenage beer keg first, I think, during Homecoming, and then once during a hockey game in the winter.  If this statement sounds confusing, it’s because I’m needlessly making it sound that way, to generate suspense:  the college I went to (*cough* *cough* Dartmouth College *cough* *cough* Ivy League *cough*) had and, as far as I know, still has an unofficial mascot, an anthropomorphic beer keg named “Keggy,” who would show up at sporting events and on other festive occasions.  Being a member of the humor magazine, which was responsible for creating and maintaining Keggy, I played him on two separate occasions during my freshman year.  (Complete clarity now dawns on the reader as the title begins to make sense.)

Being inside the beer costume felt pretty uncomfortable—an experience probably not at all equivalent to being one of those Viet Cong couriers who would crawl through networks of tiny tunnels, but why not daringly make the comparison?   Since the costume was literally a trash can that had been repainted, it lacked any padding for the skull—in fact, without some sort of intervening layer of matter, you wouldn’t be able to see out of the costume’s mouth-hole, which would be at shoulder level while your head hit the top of the can.

However, a very clever mechanism had been devised to prevent this from happening, probably best described as “a block of wood wrapped in a sweatshirt.”  (And since the sweatshirt would inevitably fall off at some point during the night, it would really just be a block of wood resting against your cranium.)  You wore the old metal framework of a hiking backpack, with the wood block and sweatshirt attached to it, sticking out above your head, while a helpful pair of people—as equally deluded as yourself—slipped the actual “keg” over your head and torso.  You also wore white plastic “Mickey Mouse” gloves, shorts, and green nylons.

(I’m not sure if that paints a very vivid picture—if it reads like Hemingway describing shooting a hippo, or whatever other animals he was into killing.  That’s what I was aiming for, anyway.  But given that no sane person would ever demand a very vivid picture of this beer-keg-costume’s internal apparatus, I guess it’s best not to worry.)

But, wait—we’re plunging heedlessly into technical matters, before we’ve even touched on the bigger, more profound questions.  I’m thinking principally of “Why?”—a one word query which could be extended into this non-truncated form: “Why would you ever dress up like an anthropomorphic beer keg? Particularly given the high level of discomfort involved, as you yourself just described?”

The anthropomorphic beer keg, as I understand it, is supposed to be knowing and ironic.  It’s a self-conscious parody of Dartmouth College’s reputation for being a school full of debauched frat-boy alcoholics—a post-modern gesture, if you will, which deconstructs the very fundaments of… (Sorry—I lost interest in that explanation as I was making it.)

A friend of mine claims that the real reason for dressing up in the Keggy costume is that it’s a way of escaping the knowledge of our impending mortality by diving into a wholly absurd, pretend universe where death is impossible, and where engaging in carefree nonsense is the only possible existential response.   But, to be fair, he says that about everything.

So, why did I dress up like a beer keg at the tender age of 19, and parade around the College Green and the Hockey Arena—shepherded by other humor magazine people, since I could only see about four feet in front of me?

Dude, I have no idea.  I was, like, 19.  Maybe I did it so I could write some sort of blog post about it or whatever, six years later…  Who knows?


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