Saturday, September 4, 2010

(Don't) Send in the Clowns

Our next door neighbors here in the village of Dorset, I mean Old Lyme, have adorable three-year-old twins named Zoe and Shane.  I happen to know Zoe and Shane are three because Martha stopped over recently to let Diana and me know that they were throwing a birthday party for them in their backyard on Sunday afternoon.  Or, more exactly, warn us they were throwing a birthday party.  "We're expecting about two dozen three year olds," she informed us forthrightly.  "And things are liable to get really, really loud."

"Wait a sec," I said warily.  "You're not having a clown, are you?"

Martha turned pale instantly.  Looked ready to faint, I swear.  Which shocked me.  Right up until that moment I would have sworn Martha was not the fainting type.  She's a scientist who does something with, well, bugs.  She's also one heck of a strapping physical specimen.  I'm talking solid muscle.  Let me put it to you this way: If Martha and I ever come to blows one of us is going to end up in the hospital and it's not going to be Martha.  Anyway, after a long pause she gulped at me and in a weak, quavery voice said, "I hate clowns..."

"God, I hate clowns, too..." moaned a wide-eyed Diana, who worked her way through college in Iowa by hacking up turkeys at a slaughterhouse.  "They give me nightmares."

I have to tell you -- this was a major revelation for me.  All of these years I've been thinking I was the only one in the world who harbored a visceral hatred of clowns.  Now it turns out that everyone hates clowns.

I don't have anything against circus clowns or rodeo clowns or Bozo the Clown.  Check that, I never liked Bozo.  I always thought he was an asshole.  I'm talking about birthday clowns.  You know the ones who I mean.  Those mean, horrible guys who supplement their day jobs as rodent exterminators or health insurance claim deniers by donning a cheesy, moth-eaten costume and big red nose and showing up at some poor, unfortunate little kid's birthday to generate loads and loads of f-u-n.

Why do parents do this to their children?

It turns out that everyone has their own private clown horror story.  Here's mine.  And it's probably not that different than yours.  I was four years old. It wasn't my own birthday party.  It was someone else's.  I don't remember who the kid was.  Anyway, there were probably two or three dozen of us there in his folks' backyard.  Lots of cake.  Lots of games.  But the "highlight" of the party was the arrival of this clown who was supposedly there to entertain us.  He urged us to gather around him really close.  We did.  He asked us if we were having a good time. We were.

And then he attacked me.

Squirted me right in the eye really hard with this big flower that was pinned to the lapel of his stupid costume.  I let out the loudest scream you've ever heard in your life.  I was convinced that this horrifying, red-nosed freak had just blinded me.   I screamed so loud the bastard actually broke character and said, "Relax, will you kid? It's just water."  Which didn't calm me down one bit.  Why would it? The monster had just attacked me.  I screamed some more.  I screamed some more.  By now my mother had come rushing across the yard to find out what the hell was going on. It was only a matter of a few seconds before she was carrying me -- my arms and legs flailing -- back to the car and home, where I think I spent the remainder of the day under my bed.

That's my birthday clown story.  What's yours?  You must have one.  Everyone does.

ps.  Zoe and Shane's party was a big, big success.  Everyone had a lot of fun.  We heard tons of laughter and no screaming.  That's because their parents didn't invite a clown.



1 comment:

  1. Oh my but that is too funny! erm, not your trauma, but the vivid vision of how it all went