Confessions of a Love Gorilla By Oona Woods With V-Day approaching cupid is at large, spring fever is just around the corner, and of course your friendly neighbourhood gorilla is gonna be busy. Linda Marshall, who runs Marshall Arts Party Designs, is charged with handling the love-beast year round and she reports that it could deliver as many as 37 love tokens and balloon bouquets on Valentines Day. The gorilla will be hot on the trail of loved ones from early in the morning with breakfast-in-bed trays until at least 10 p.m. Marshall says the spirit of romance is definitely alive and well in Whistler. "I've delivered engagement rings to people that just thought they were getting a box of chocolates. When the woman opened the box and saw the ring she was very excited. I've also arranged surprise picnics. The people go for a walk and I hang around in the woods guarding the food until they arrive at a pre-arranged place. Then I jump out and surprise them." Potential heart failure aside, Marshall says that people get really excited at getting a gorilla-gram. "People never think it's for them. They always assume it must be some different Dave or Mike at the office." Marshall says it feels really good to be on the scene during special moments in people's lives. "Being able to bring joy to people is great. Just being able to be a part of the whole day and the experience is definitely a good point." However, being a gorilla in Whistler isn't all love and bananas, it does have its hazards. "For some reason people bombard you with snowballs when you walk through the village. That's one of the hazards I dislike." Marshall says she has to take off her hat to show she's a real person. Apparently while people are under the impression it is a real gorilla ambling through the village their first line of self-defence is the ever handy snowball. "It's also a worry that I'll get mistaken for a bear. When my sister wore the costume I warned her to make sure she wasn't shot in the bum and delivered to some god forsaken place in B.C." When animals come into contact with each other instinct takes over. "I always check to see if people have dogs. They terrify me when I'm in the costume. They bark and bite the balloon displays. One dog ruined a whole balloon bouquet once." Jungle instinct has led to a few other tricky situations as well. "I delivered to the Boot Ballet one night and I was mistaken for a stripper. Another time I agreed that the gorilla would take off it's bikini but no more. The people wanted the strip to continue. I did not do that." Marshall says that delivering to bars is always fun because people get so frisky with the gorilla. She has also had plenty of willing hands when the gorilla needs to do a quick change. "The suit is unisex so for men I wear a bikini and for women I wear boxer shorts and a tie. Sometimes I have to change sex between deliveries. I got changed in the loop outside the Timberline Lodge one time and a guy had to help me snap up my bikini. I couldn't quite reach it." As well as pulling off gender flips in mere seconds, a gorilla about town has to be highly trained in the art of locating people within a tight 15 minute time slot. "You only get a short time to find people. Some offices are a real maze. I've delivered to the clinic before. You have to track down the doctors. I also delivered to a construction site. The guy was a roofer and I had to yell up at him to get his attention. I was really afraid he'd fall off the roof. In the end I waved and tied his bouquet to his truck. I didn't even try to climb up." Even a gorilla will draw the line at infringing on Worker's Comp rules. "You can also get deliveries on the ski hills. My sister wears the costume for those ones. I'm not a great skier and it's hard to see where you're going with the hat and glasses on." Is there anywhere this gorilla won't go? "Children's parties. The last time we did an eight year old's birthday party the gorilla was attacked and mauled and the mask was pulled off. So we said 'Never again'."