Posts Tagged ‘clown’

Circus Trauma

Years ago, people used to run away to join the circus.  I wonder how that worked. “Hey, where’s Ralph? I haven’t seen him in a while?”…..”Oh, haven’t you heard? He ran off and joined the circus.”  Seriously?  You could do that?   I would think that if you want to work with a bunch of clowns, many people wouldn’t have to go very far.

Since my dad was in the Clown Patrol with the Shriners, or whatever Osiris Temple is, we went to the circus a lot. I guess my dad felt a connection with the “real” clowns. They scared the hell out of me. They thought it was funny to sneak up behind you and honk that stupid giant-sized horn behind your head. What the hell is wrong with you, Bozo?  That is not funny. Probably why I have hearing loss in both my ears. Clown disorder. I also thought that they were a bit creepy, like sexually creepy. A couple of them would just stare at me. I was only around 12 at the time. They probably thought they could get away with creepy looks because they were basically hidden behind a mask. When I was little, we didnt’ know about “Stranger danger” and we didn’t have Amber Alerts,  but I am betting that  some of the clowns in the circus had some issues. So, they ran away and joined the circus so they could be with children. Yikes…

There seemed to be a lot of midget clowns. (We called them midgets back then because that’s what they were.)  Sort of made me mad that they got the really dirty jobs of walking behind the elepants with a pooper scooper, and smiling all the while like it was fun to clean up elephant poop. The elephants could have easily stepped on one. I worried about this.

I remember thinking that the circus was a dirty world. I felt so sorry for the animals and secretly wanted to see the lion bite off someone’s head. And I thought this when I was little.  They were kept in tiny cages and looked so unhappy. There were even little dogs that did tricks in one of the rings. Maybe they ran away and joined the circus too. Stray dogs put to work to earn their keep. Poor pooches. I decided very early on that if I was rich when I grew up that I would buy a huge piece of land and put all of the circus animals on it so they could just hang out and not have to do tricks every day. I was a wise child.

I noticed everything about the circus. Like how the girls wore fishnet hose with tears in them. First of all, why would they wear fishnet hose under their little costume?  They always had tears in them. Maybe swinging on the flying trapeze bars tore them up a lot. Which goes back to why they would wear them in the first place. I don’t know, I just thought everything was dirty. I knew then I had no desire to run away and join the circus.

My biggest concern with the circus was the tightrope walkers. The Flying Wallenda’s were a daredevil circus act famous for performing death-defying stunts without a safety net. They were also famous for being stupid. They had a 7 person pyramid with a chair and those long sticks to keep their balance, so they decided they didn’t need a safety net. Someone should have given them an IQ test. I knew that people came to the circus to see if they would fall. They did in 1962 at the Shrine Circus at the Detroit State Fair and two people died. They still didn’t feel the need for a safety net.  No one must have asked, “Hey, uh, Uncle Rufeo fell to his death last night. We gonna put up a net?”   More relatives fell and died. These people do not learn their lesson. I really had enough of the circus.

I remember my dad telling me about the Hartford Circus Fire. I think it happened in 1944. A fire broke out under the big top and 168 people died, along with many animals. I specifically remember him telling me about the fire while we were at the circus….sitting far away from the entrance…under a tent. Nice, Dad, scare the child even more. Most of the time we went to Wheeling Island Stadium, along the banks of the Ohio River. I bet the Flying Wallenda’s didn’t like the breeze from the river. But, back to the fire…I sat there listening to my dad tell me about the fire and I decided, once again, that we really shouldn’t go to another circus performance.

I don’t know how old I was when I went to my first circus. I do remember when I went to my last.

It was a flea circus. Yeah, a flea circus. A circus so small you have to look at it with a magnfying glass. I thought it was a joke. I was in college when I first heard about it. What is this world coming to? What are we going to have next, a cockroach rodeo?

Who the hell decided it would be a good idea to have a circus with fleas?

I’m thinking it must have been one of the Wallenda’s.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let’s Mow Vickie Over

Ever wake up and see a clown sitting on the edge of your bed?  Pretty scary, right?  Well, that’s how I felt when someone mentioned playing  Red Rover.  I hated when we played that game when I was little. I mean, who invented this horrible little game? I’m thinking some German woman weightlifter named Olga.  It was bad enough that I had to sing about the plague with “Ring a round the Rosie”,  now I had to get a knot in my stomach every time Red Rover was mentioned.

“Oh, Dear God, Bozo, they want to play Red Rover today. What would you do?”

First of all, no one wanted me on their team.  Remember, I was anorexic skinny.  The other team loved not having me on their team, because they knew I was the weakest link. They didn’t even need to whisper, “Run through Vickie”…..or… “See that girl, the one with the shaking knees and…wait, ok, she was standing sideways,..anyway, see that girl with just a little bit of skin on her bones?… Yeah, the one who is crying…. She will let go of  Lee Ann’s  hand every time. Run at her!”

Now,you have to understand, I wasn’t bad at outdoor games. I was awesome at kickball. I didn’t have much power in the kick, mind you, but I could run.  I ran like a deer. A graceful anorexic deer. We played kickball in my neighborhood all of the time. In the street beside my house. I played Duck Duck Goose. (I’m laughing out loud at that one right now)… Mother May-I?…Freeze Tag….Red Light, Green Light….Hopscotch…Colored Eggs…..Do I need to go on?  Ok, I will.  Drop the Hankerchief….Hot Potato…Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?….Chinese Jump Rope (made mine with a bunch of rubber bands)…Ok, done..Wait..I really liked singing The Farmer in the Dell, but damnit, never got to be the cheese, standing alone….I remember one time when it was getting late, we started playing  Hide and Go Seek, and had Monica be it. We told her to count to 100 so we could find a great place to hide, and then we all went home..Yeah, that was my idea.

We would play outside all day long. We had to. Our moms kicked us out of the house. If we stayed in the house, we had to fold towels and do chores. We had freedom outside. The only times we ran in the house was to pee and to get money for the ice cream man. When we were very little, the whole neighborhood was pissed off at my mom because she called the ice cream trucks company and told them that the truck came when “her children” were taking a nap. How dare that ice cream truck. So, they came after dinner until we got older and didn’t take naps. What kind of pull did that woman have to get them to adjust their arrival times..Wow, what a witch…Anyway, the ice cream man came later…sigh…not when you were playing and it was hot, but after dinner, which  was not as gratifying. Thank goodness I was fairly liked by my friends, or they would be doing much worse things to me than trying to break my arm with Red Rover.

For any of you who have been living  in a bubble and have never experienced the painful game of Red Rover, let me tell you the rules. You get two lines of kids that don’t have anything else to do but inflict pain on each other, make them hold hands  and then you take turns calling someone over. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Vickie over”  That person runs like hell and tries to break all the bones in your arm as the person you are holding hands with has a death grip on your hand and won’t let go.  And you know damn well they will try to run off-center and concentrate on Brittle Girl.  Every time.

In the end, all games foster cooperation and teamwork, teach social skills and help develop coordination for those who walk funny.

But, call me crazy, but I think Red Rover was a game for losers…..Yeah, that’s right….. Future loser bullies. Because it was those loser bullies who were the first to also want to play Dodge Ball.

Don’t even get me started on that brain-damage-inducing game.

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