Thursday, July 16, 2009

The circus is coming...RUN!


"There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight"
Lon Chaney



The circus was in town-and I just don't like the circus. The noise, the costumes ...the clowns. ick...I shudder thinking about it. For ten years I have avoided taking my children to the circus. I have driven different routes just to bypass any billboards advertising them...I have removed ads from the local paper....thrown out fliers..and if that failed, and one of my kids happened to notice...I did what every parent does in times of great stress-I flat out lied. "Oh, we missed it...it was last week".."I tried to get us tickets, but they were all sold out..sorry-maybe next time."



This year....this year was different. This year they handed out free passes at summer rec. Yeah, summer rec. The place that I had thought of as salvation. The place I had once counted on to keep my kids safe..but no more. They had backed me into a corner..I could avoid it no longer...my ten year grace period was up. There would be no more lies. No more half truths..I had no other choice. I had to take them to the circus.



It wasn't a regular circus either..it was a small town, family owned, one ring affair. It was the kind of circus you would see in a fever dream....or a Stephen King movie. Garish peeling paint..the sparkles not so sparkly, ill fitting costumes and geriatric animals. The people working it were just plain unhappy....sullen even. And the "refreshments"? The cotton candy (4.00) pre-packaged, the popcorn(3.00) pre-popped..the lemonade(3.00) pre-watered down. It was depressing. My kids being how kids are, noticed none of that. They though it was fabulous.



We watched a dog act...in which five different dogs ran from one platform to the other..while jumping through a hoop. An acrobat who contorted her body while hanging on to a ring fifty feet in the air...lifting her legs in such a way, that every male in the audience let out a collective "Whoa.." (including my ten year old son). And then there was the clown....He wasn't your regular sort of clown..not much makeup..he wore a plaid suit and a pointy hat.. He was not a happy guy, although he worked hard at convincing people he was. Now, I am afraid of clowns. Really afraid, and this clown was big on audience participation...so I spent a sweaty fifteen minutes silently chanting "don't make eye contact...don't make eye contact. It worked-until he started walking around selling coloring books.Which my kids really wanted..so I had to talk to him..even though I begged my husband to do it for me..it was a fast transaction-I kept my face averted..I was afraid he would steal my soul with his mad clown eyes...or talk to me.



I am pleased to say that the coloring book was the only souvenir that we bought them. Which was no mean feat, considering that they would announce things for sale between every two acts or so. They even had an intermission in order that people could go and visit the gift stands "located at the front end of the tent." They spent an awful lot of time trying to sell you crap. My kids of course wanted everything...and not all of them understood why they couldn't have it. It made for a few rather tense moments.



The last straw, was the chimpanzees. Chimpanzees in western wear. Riding ponies. Old ponies. How freakish is that? They looked like long time residents of a psych ward, let out for an afternoon shuffle-(I wouldn't have been at all surprised if they had pulled out a pack of Marlborough reds and started smoking).... The chains around there necks only added to the image. It was just plain creepy, masquerading as fun.



At the end of the show, they once again "suggested" stopping by the souvenir stands on the way out. They also said that they looked forward to coming back next year. My kids can't wait. I plan to be out of town.

4 comments:

KWombles said...

Kathleen,

It was well worth the wait for this blog! :-)

I'd be out of town, too. So far, we've avoided the circus for nearly twenty years. I'm gonna keep it that way.

Club 166 said...

I don't like most circuses, either. But there are a couple of smaller or boutique ones (Cirque du Soleil, Circus Flora) that can be quite pleasant.

Joe

3laine said...

Great post! I don't really like the circus myself. All those poor animals! And all the crap they try to make you buy. I can relate to you not wanting the clown to speak to you. So embarrassing! Next time the circus comes, go as far away as possible.

denise said...

Poor chimpanzies :(

I actually got to volunteer at an 'alternative' circus last year, when Ringling Bros was in town. We called it 'The Circus Show and Other Attrocities', and had it at a new art gallery, where 150 artists had created circus animal themed pieces. I ran the coin toss outside, which was pretty fun, because all night long, I got to call out to assorted men, "Hey, you want to come here and throw some money in my fancy box?", and other innapropriate Carny like things :)

I love your Stephen King description...so fitting really, considering where you are!