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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Clown redux

I'm trying to work the word "potentate" into everyday conversation.

"It sounds dirty," Mrs. Otis said.

We were looking down on the Potentate and the Past Potentate (there was also a potential Potentate in the mix).

"It sounds really dirty," she said, to herself this time. I found myself wondering if she was taking a shine to the paunchy men in the third ring. The fez is a sexy chapeau, no doubt.

We were back at the circus, this time a low-rent Shriner event held in the auditorium of a local liberal arts school. It was the kind of circus where the pony-ride vendors doubled as trapeze artists and the high-wire girl sold blow-up versions of Spongebob.

Recently, I've been making a greater effort to be more of a family man and less a degenerate gambler. So, when the local TV advertised yet another circus was in town, I knew what was going to happen before Mrs. Otis even spoke.

In fact, the first person to speak was L'il Otis. Ever since the last trip to the high-rent circus, he's thumbed through the photo album and proclaimed, "Clowns!" every time he saw a picture of the big-nezed funnymen. What's more, he would come up to me with something--anything--attached to his nose and ask, "Clown?"

And, yes, when the commercial for the Shrine Circus came on TV, the little one went loopy for the clowns.

The casual reader here (one of the hundreds and hundred Wil sent in recent days) may not know it, but my 19-month-old kid has a visceral, pee-in-the-neighbor's-yard fear of clowns. The last circus experience for him was much like an experience I had in college in which I sobered up from a bender listening to the Moody Blues with a moustachioed woman swaying above me.

A before and after clown experience at the last circus

And, so, yes, we went to the Shrine Circus. I was actually a little excited. If my kid had conquered a major fear in less than two months, I'd be pretty proud. Upon finding a parking space, I jumped from Emilio the SUV, grabbed the kid, and bolted for the first clown I could find. I think the dude might've been smoking a cigarette two seconds before I jumped him, shoved L'il Otis in his face and screamed, "Clown!"

Both the kid and the clown looked at me like I was the girl from the Moody Blues coitus interuptus experience. If the kid could or the clown was allowed, I'm sure both of them would've looked at me and said, "You motherfucker."

Duly reprimanded, I slouched inside, paid for the tickets, and set off in search of a clown that didn't look like he might have come straight from a police lineup. Within seconds, I had found an old clown with a coat hanger seemingly poked through his head.

"When they're done with me," he said, "they just hang me in a closet."

As the kid clawed at my collar bone, I decided I, too, was scared and bolted for the three rings on the floor.

For the next 20 minutes, the wife and I tried in vain to find a clown that wasn't scary. At this circus, however, everything was scary. The ring master was surely a former con man. The lead female acrobat had Stephen King-character-teeth and thighs that could crush coconuts. The tiger guy looked like a combination of Rick Flair and Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett Brown.

Hell, even the audience was scary. Two rows ahead of us, two women sat wrangling kids and counting out quarters to buy cottn candy. Their hair was painfully bleached and their eyes were certainly the tired products of too many meth-nights and not enough melatonin.

"You think they're strippers?" my wife asked.

"Honey," I said, "I'm no expert, but those girls don't look like any strippers I've ever seen." Upon further thought, I decided the girls looked exactly like a bacherlor party stripper I saw one night, but that's a story that attorneys and public relations operatives made sure that none of the party-goers would ever tell.

And, so, clowns are still personas non grata around Mt. Willis.

But, it wasn't a wasted day. It gave me an idea.

I'm thinking about buying a fez and declaring myself a Potentate.

Now that I think about it, it does sound a little dirty.


Blogger Otis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Sparky said...

Steely Dan sez: "No I’m never gonna do it without the fez on"

maybe the potentate is dirty...

The clown and the kid wanting to call you motherfucker had me blowing liquids out my nose. Nice.

9:38 PM  
Blogger rj said...

Dammit, I haven't laughed that much since ... well, since the last post about the circus.

And now I have an RSS feed.

Dude, you are the Potentate.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Tooloftheman said...

"The last circus experience for him was much like an experience I had in college in which I sobered up from a bender listening to the Moody Blues with a moustachioed woman swaying above me. "

I'm somehow thankful that I have no recollection of ever hearing about this incident, or if I dit, completly forgetting about it.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Hmmmm... a fez as a prop to wear while playing live poker.

I like this idea.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Ms All In said...

We went to the Sunday afternoon showing and had front row seating. Can't believe we didn't see you. Unless you were talking about my me and my friend, as the "bleached" ahead of you.

It was kinda scary but all went to a good cause.

7:52 PM  

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