This is Joe Gillespie, the hero of our story:

This is Homer, Joe’s alter ego for one magical night (pictured with someone who isn’t involved in this story; please don’t bother him):

On Sept. 20, Joe and his buddy Mark attended Beerfest at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Class AAA Charlotte Knights. As is wont to happen at an event called Beerfest, Joe had a few too many drinks.

What happened next will shock and amaze you. It’s all detailed in a lengthy, engrossing sitdown Joe had with Ryan Pitkin of Creative Loafing. You must read it.

“I told Mark, ‘I have to run upstairs and get some food, because I’m drunk.’ I ran upstairs and ate barbecue and that was about the last thing I remember. The event ended at 9 p.m., but the next thing I remember I wake up at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday and I’m at the bottom of a stairwell with no idea where I am,” Joe told Pitkin. “I called Mark, and he said, ‘Where the [bleep] are you?’ I said, ‘Dude, I don’t know. I think I’m still in the stadium.’ ”

Mark was at Hooters, natch, so Joe told him to stay there and he’d meet up with him. But then divine intervention, in the form of a smelly green mascot costume, intervened:

He said he was at Hooters, so I told him to stay there. I start walking down the hallway to leave and I look to my right and see the mascot dressing room. I thought, there’s no way this door is unlocked. I turned the handle and it opens right up and there’s the damned costume.
So, I suited right up, walked out the door and proceeded to Hooters. I walked right up into Hooters and my buddy didn’t even know it was me. I was ragin’ dude.
I left Hooters and there was a big line at Tilt next door. I just said, “Yo man, can I go in?” The guy said, “No,” and I was like, “Dude, You’re not gonna let Homer the [bleepin’] mascot into your bar right now?” Then he said I could go in. There was nobody on the dance floor. I come sliding in and start getting it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.

After “taking parade-like laps around Uptown on a bicycle rickshaw, convincing a CMPD officer he was the real mascot working overtime at 3:30 a.m.,” Pitkin writes, Joe went home.

Sadly, the Knights considered Homer stolen and not merely used as the vehicle for perhaps the greatest night in Charlotte history. The police showed up at Joe’s door about 9 p.m. the next night. Joe, who said he planned on dropping Homer off at the stadium on Monday, was charged with breaking-and-entering and larceny, both felonies.

Free Joe Gillespie.

“Professionals steal, amateurs borrow. I’m just an amateur,” he said.

No matter the outcome of Joe’s criminal proceedings, he has come out ahead. Because if you get drunk at a beer festival and pass out in a stairwell and borrow a mascot costume and have one hell of a night, you are coming out ahead.

“I got like three numbers that night and have added like 20 chicks on Facebook. That’s been a plus,” Joe said, our hero triumphant.