Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wearing My Homemade Blackjack Dealer Costumer (Part 2 of 2)

I built a wearable blackjack table for Halloween. [See Part 1, the build.] Then I got to wear it:

Me, behind the finished product.

I already owned the tuxedo shirt and bow tie. Same with the red vest. (I'd originally sized the harness for a black vest I had, but the red one was wider and hid the harness better, and besides, when you're wearing a 3.5" wide green table, restraint should not be the objective.)

The Wearing
I met a bunch of friends to pre-party before we headed over to Carpool in Herndon, for the Fairfax Athletics Midseason/Halloween Party.

This was actually the first time I'd actually worn the entire, completed costume. It seemed to work okay, once I made it in the door: At about three-and-a-half feet wide, you have to go through sideways (and carefully).

This also makes navigating crowded rooms interesting. The padded rail and a firm voice helps. And when you order a drink, it's best if someone can pass your drink from the bartender.

* My costume was very well received. People wanted to know where I'd gotten it. (It was only later -- like, today -- that I found you can buy a cardboard version for $40, but mine was much cooler.)

* Since the harness is almost completely hidden, folks asked how it was held up -- since the platform is at waist level, there's a built-in "I'm just happy to see you" joke.

* Wearing a blackjack table is a good icebreaker -- everyone wants to play:

Hey, sailor, new in town?

I dealt a lot of hands to random people over the course of the night, though as time went on, my counting skills (with both chips and cards) deteriorated.

Oh, and to keep things simple, I didn't do insurance, and I was paying blackjack 2-to-1. We weren't playing for real money (didn't want to have to deal with that headache), so who cares?

* It's not really heavy, especially at first, but I definitely started feeling it in my back (I'm still recovering from a mild strain from a few weeks ago). I was a little sore the next day.

* It's pretty easy to take off and put on again, which is an important consideration since I wouldn't want to try taking a leak while wearing it. It would be... messy.

* Initially, I was concerned about sturdiness, but it's pretty solid. The pipe clamps were tight, and the triangle frame supported the platform pretty well. And no one tried leaning on it, thankfully.

* People (myself included) will want to set their drinks down on it:

Dealing to Harem Girl Michelle

Since the platform is attached and moves with my body, being a drink tray is a potentially dicey situation. I'd thought about adding cupholders, but besides being extra work and having to work around the frame -- hey, people can hold their own drinks.

There were a couple of minor spills, nothing too bad.

* Minor design flaw: If you have short arms, it can be hard to pick up cards at the edge of the platform.

* Happily, even though I'd pre-emptively written off the chips (I only brought half from the set), I didn't lose a single card or chip.

* Lastly, remember: The house always wins:

Jeremy "Cobra Kai Johnny" preparing to sweep my leg.

Enhancements and Conclusions
I had a lot of fun with this costume, primarily because it's interactive and fully functional. Oh, and with it, I also won $100 in the costume contest. (Which basically covers my material and tool costs.)

Unfortunately, outside of a party this Halloween night (and maybe Saturday), there doesn't seem like I'll have any excuse to wear it, which is a shame.

I guess I could rent myself out to be a roaming blackjack dealer at parties.

Last week was something of a dry run. In preparation for this weekend's Halloween activities, and after seeing some of the photos, I decided to spray paint black the exposed bits of the frame, because the bare wood looked pretty cheesy. (Incidentally, I found my black spray paint -- it was next to the laundry detergent. No idea why).

I also painted the lower part of the PVC harness -- against black pants, it should be even harder to see. (You can see the PVC poking out in a few of the photos. Well, it's PVC, as far as you know.)

Other enhancements I'm considering -- cutting in a casino-style money drop slot, and painting more decorations on the felt ("Joe's Casino" and such). Though I'll probably just leave it be. I might still extend the bumper around to the back of the frame -- it'd be a quick fix.

You can see the full photo sets here: Halloween Costume Build 2008 and Fairfax Athletics Halloween Party, 10/25/08.

Lastly, thanks to Cockeyed.com's Rob Cockerham for the inspiration and instructions on how to build the harness and platform.

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