Following the One in Furry Red

By: Pema Chozom

It was around 11 p.m. on a Friday night in Times Square and the lights continued to shimmer bright from the electronic billboards as the sounds of cars from 42nd street filled the air. Policemen moved to and from patrolling the area, and crowds of tourists filled the air with excitement. The individuals dressed as fictional characters such as; Iron Man, Elmo, The Cookie Monster and Mickey Mouse, hovered around and badgered the tourists for photos in front of the H&M building.

He placed his fuzzy red helm on one of the nearby tables; his face was flushed as he reached into the front pocket of his furry red costume, counting his earnings after what was probably a long night of nagging tourists for photos.

A petite male of Latino origin dressed, neck-to-toe, with a dirty matted Elmo costume sat on an open chair at the corner of 42nd street and Broadway. After a minute, he brushed his shaggy black hair back, picked up his helm from the table and wore it.

It was time to get to work. He jumped up and down a little to energize himself and made his way into the crowds of tourists. He walked around eagerly and moved towards a group of teenage girls, “Hey babe,” said the Elmo in a shaky accent, “want a picture?” The group of girls politely ignored the wannabe Elmo and made their way.

After nagging tourists for about five minutes, Elmo had a change in tactics. He moved towards a young family of four; the parents appeared to be in their early 30s and the son and daughter were probably in their pre-teens, were taking photos of each other near the corner of 43rd street and 7th Ave. As the father of the family was preparing to take a picture of his wife and kids, Elmo subtly moved in and stood behind the wife and two children. After seeing that the father of the family had taken a picture, Elmo announced, “five dollars for picture.”

The parents were shocked with disbelief to find themselves in such situation.

“I didn’t take a photo of you, you just walked into the picture,” said the Father of the family, slowly lowering his camera. “Yeah, we’re not paying for that!” said the wife, distraught.

Elmo walks towards the father of the family pointing at the camera, “I am in picture. Yes? Then you give me five dollars,” said Elmo in his furry red costume speaking with a shaky English accent switching from his forced, squeaky, high-pitched Elmo-like voice.

After a couple of minutes of arguing, the couple gave in and gave him five dollars. As the couple and their kids turned away with disgusted looks on their faces, Elmo took off his glove from one hand and stuck out his middle finger out at their direction as he mouthed some probable curse words, and quickly recoiled his hands, put on his gloves and went back to looking for more tourists to nag.

As he made his way towards his initial position, in front of the H&M building, a passerby whom looked in his early 20s offered him a high-five for his hilarious efforts to attain that five dollars.

“Good job,” said the passerby as he giggled with amusement.

A few minutes after mindlessly wandering around the area, he noticed a man suited in an Ironman costume and a woman in a Hello Kitty costume taking pictures with some tourists near the New York Police Stand in Times Square. The tourists; two female and a male, looking like they are in their late 20s, were posing for a photo with Iron Man and Hello Kitty when Elmo quickly rushed into the scene, photo-bombing the tourists and his costumed colleagues.

“Elmo just photo-bombed you,” said the male tourist, giggling at the hilarious situation they were in.

“Aw, Hi Elmo,” said the shorter female amongst the three.

Elmo replied with a squeaky, “Hi,” as he waved his hand over his shoulder. He leaned in towards the two women, slowly shoving his arms across their shoulders and, pushing Iron Man and Hello Kitty to the side. Iron Man and Hello Kitty moved to the side without a word and posed with Elmo and the girls for a few snaps.

The male from the three shook hands with the three characters and handed them each five dollar bills. He and his friends, thanked them and made his way. They were rather polite compared to the last group of tourists Elmo photo-bombed.

Elmo moved into the corner of 42nd street and Broadway, as he slowly removed his helm, revealing his flushed face and shaggy hair. He reached in his fluffy pocket, revealing a smartphone and some bills. As he counted his earnings, the woman dressed in the Hello Kitty costume stood next to him and greeted him. She took off her Hello Kitty helm and revealed a middle-aged woman of latino origin, flushed, and tired, with her hair tied back into a ponytail. They spoke in a vaguely Spanish dialect as she sat down on one of the open chairs in Times Square.

They sat down for a few minutes and stood up slowly, picking up their helms and making their way towards the front of the H&M building. They shook hands with the man wearing the Ironman costume, gave a heart-warming hug to a man wearing the Statue of Liberty costume, speaking loudly in Spanish.

They said their goodbyes and finally walked towards the subway station,with their furry helms in hand, ending the long night of nagging and photo-bombing tourists.