Clutch the Rockets Bear with his dejected friend.

A world without mascots… is like a world without sun…

KISS bassist Gene Simmons once sang that line. Actually he mispronounced “mascots” and it came out as “heroes” – his New York accent at work, I guess – and because of that the record company misprinted the song title and so now no one realizes just how screwed we’d all be without mascots.

Seriously, without mascots how would we know when to chant “DE-FENSE”? Or start the wave? Who would little kids high-five and/or run in terror from at games and public events? And mascots are just as useful outside the sports world as they are in it. Fourteen US Senators, ten Nobel laureates and three popes were actually mascots. (Who could forget the short but influential papacy of Mr. Met II?)

I propose November be named Mascot History Month, and that we celebrate some of the important contributions mascots have made to society. I’m kicking things off today with a shout out to Clutch, mascot, friend and all-around hero to the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Seems one Valentine’s Day a lovestruck Rockets fan decided to proclaim his love for all time, in front of a capacity crowd at Houston Toyota Center. He brought his lady friend to center court, got down on one knee… and, well, just watch:

Yeah, that didn’t exactly go well. But look who was there for the dude after his painful rejection: that’s right, Clutch. He doesn’t mind hanging with a loser – after all, he remembers the Rockets’ 2005-06 season. I have it from people inside the Rockets organization that say Clutch not only walked the guy off the court, but took him out on the town with some of his mascot buddies – TORO the bull and Junction Jack the rabbit – got some drinks at Clutch’s table at the Drake Bar and then went dancing at HUSH til 2 in the morning. Clutch introduced the despondent would-be groom to a young lady who had unfortunately set a record the year before for most foul balls caught with a forehead (three) and they hit it off. Today they live in a ranch-style house in South Houston with their three kids and fourteen dogs. Technically the dogs are the landlords but hey, the price was right.

Now you may hear that this whole marriage proposal was a stunt and that the woman didn’t really turn him down. But I doubt it. Clutch may help losers, but he doesn’t help phonies.

And so, Clutch the Rockets Bear, we salute your many achievements as we celebrate Mascot History Month 2012!