Hi God, it's me, Claire. I'm just your average, awkward 24-year-old who is obsessed with mermaids.*
For those who don't know, mermaiding is a thing.
In addition to being swimming, posing, and diving experts, professional mermaids have to:
* Have the stamina to withstand children's parties
* Dodge invasive questions that would "break" mercharacter
* Wear a constricting, silicone tail for (potentially) hours on end
* Have escape maneuvers when children try to "drown" you (to see if you're real)
* Be vastly knowledgeable about the ocean and it's creatures
* And finally, to have the charm, improv, and acting abilities to captivate and entertain small hordes of children and adults
And I, with a fiery burning passion, have made it my mission in life to become a real-life, bona fide mermaid.
So I enlisted the help of Virginia, who is basically a real-life mermaid. She owns and operates Sheroes, a fantasy character service, and wanted to make all my merdreams come true.
I didn't have six months to transform myself into the mermaid I always dreamed I could be, so Virginia created a special program for me.
My curated class schedule combined the most important aspects from both the regular and professional mermaid schools.
First, I had to take an in-tail swim and posing practice class. Second, I would take a mermaid accessories class, where I'd meet the other mermaids and create my mermaid bra. Third, I would have to create a fully fleshed mermaid character to debut. And finally, I would work a charity event as my mermaid character to put my skills to the test.
This was going to be the best day of my life, I could tell.*
So I donned the super glitzy bra Virginia handed me (mermaids LOVE sparkle) and was ready for my class.
Once Virginia was confident I wouldn't drown, she had me put on my fabric tail, which felt very much like I was rolling a full-body condom on myself.
But then we were free to live our best mermaid lives! I MEAN JUST LOOK AT ME. I'M A MERMAID FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
Once we had enough swimming practice, it was time for me to learn how to pose in a tail.
At first, I had no idea what I was doing. Keeping track of my tail, arms, flipper, face, and accessories was crazy hard, so Virginia had mermaid-In-training and posing expert Odette work her magic on me.
But after Odette taught be how to work my arms and fin, I was posing like a mermaid in no time.
After learning how to swim like a mermaid, it was time to learn how to dress like one!
One of Virginia's mermaids was getting a fancy new tail and needed to make a new bra top. She likes to use these opportunities to call her mers together for a ~mermaid accessories~ night.
Which means I got to go to Michaels Crafts, my most and least favorite place on earth.
Michaels is a wonderland and also a fiery, burning, crafting hellscape where innocent crafters go to die. Like everyone who goes to Michaels, I had a moment of despair that turned into an existential crisis. What kinds of things should I buy? Who was my mermaid and what would she wear?
After arriving and talking to the other mermaids, they calmed my anxiety and gave me some advice on making a mermaid top.
Rule #1 is support and safety. You want to give your bra a zero percent chance of falling off your body.
Rule #2 is not being overly cleavage-y. (Think of the children...and their parents!)
Rule #3 is to glue everything down with E6000 (a really strong craft glue).
And rule #4 is make your mermaid bra YOU.
I opted for a natural mermaid look, with lots of netting and foliage.
BUT MY GOD did I underestimate how long it would take to sew the netting on the bra. I spent hours with the other mermaids crafting my bra and I didn't pass the first step! Before we left, they had me model what I had so far, and oohs and aahs filled the room. They made me feel like I had everything under control, which I totally did.*
*That is a lie.
Once I got home, I did what every scumbag procrastinator does: I shoved everything into a closet and didn't look at it again.
That is, until I had only a couple days before my big day. (Yes, yes, I know I'm a garbage person.)
The next few nights ended in a similar fashion, mainly me staying up until 3 a.m., gluing my mermaid bra until I passed out from the fumes and/or exhaustion.
And by the power of Neptune, I finished it.
Even though I was on a high from completing my mermaid bra, I still had to figure out my mermaid character.
Today was the day.
This was it: the day of my big mermaid reveal. I had waited 24 years for this moment — 24 years to fulfill a dream and live my best life.
When I arrived, Virginia wasted no time in getting me into the mermaid tail.
I was officially a mermaid! I could no longer move on my own but my god, I was a mermaid.
Now, I can't really post any photos of all the children I made happy because I couldn't hand their parents release forms for a couple of reasons.
1) I literally could not reach the parents or move closer to them, and 2) handing a parent a photo contract definitely constitutes breaking mermaid character, which is the ONE RULE I could not break.
Even from the back of their heads I'm pretty sure you can see how excited they are, and if you can't, just look at my face because I was just as ecstatic as they were.
And then the photo ops started rolling in, like police officers and women from BACA, Bikers Against Child Abuse.
I was put on some barrels.
On a pirate ship.
And on a very pretty bike.
I had never been so happy, and it was all because I got to make other people happy.
Don't be fooled by my smile: My knees are dying in this picture.
When I stood up I felt like Ariel when she first got her legs, but I was surprised at how quickly the pain in my ankles disappeared.
After I changed into human clothes and took off my wig, I scampered away, praying that no one would recognize me as the mermaid.
And Virginia was right — literally no one did. It was incredibly surreal, and I would have dwelled on that thought a bit longer but I was really excited to go home and eat everything in sight before passing out from exhaustion.
* Professional mermaids are bona fide badasses. They can save drowning children, hold their breath for long periods of time, and survive hours of children's parties while being in a very constricting silicone tail.
* Baby oil will become your best friend.
* That tail is beautiful and you will look like a real mermaid but dear god your ankles and knees will feel pain.
* Your legs will never look better then after being in a mermaid tail and soaking up baby oil for hours.
* The magic of being a mermaid wasn't about me living my dream, it was about making children's dreams come to life.