Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Under the Big Top

I’m not that into the circus.

I think it’s mostly the clowns. I don’t have a recurring-nightmare level of clown fear, but it’s just hard to really trust someone who makes it that difficult to read his facial cues. No one is actually always smiling or frowning, so make-up that suggests a perpetual expression is just creepy.

Fizbo is, of course, an exception. The character of Cameron is hysterical (and Phil’s reaction to him is even better). Plus the make-up around his mouth is in a circle, not a smile or frown. Infinitely less creepy.

I’ve been the circus a total of two times. Once when I was a kid and I remember the blue snow cone I ate, out of a clown head mug (again, creepy), more than I remember any of the show. The second time was a couple years ago. I was the person taking sudden, audible breaths when the acrobats did their thing. I mean, bravo, for being able to catch each other as you’re flying through the air, but as impressing as that is, it’s not worth the freaking heart attack I’m going to have watching it.

If you’re looking for someone with whom to get excited about the Big Top, I’m probably not your girl.

All this being said, I was once co-proprietor of one of the greatest clown-free circuses that ever performed, that of the Great Golden Circle.

One spring, during a big storm, a tree fell in our backyard, crushing one of the sides of the swimming pool. There was no fixing it, so the pool had to go. In its place was a giant circle in the backyard, that was covered in some kind of gold dust.

At first, the sister and I were disappointed that the summer was coming and the pool was no more, but then we realized the new world of possibilities that had just been opened. The great golden circle was the perfect performance venue.

Taking inspiration from our beloved Golly Sisters, we began to plan our acts. Playing to my bossy strengths, I became ring master. My sister and one of our friends performed as acrobats/trapeze artists (certainly some of the finest I’ve ever seen). The three of us made up the GGCC’s stock company, but we had many visiting performers who would pop in for select shows, including a Mighty Man who could lift two lawn chairs at the same time (impressive!).

Showing my nerdy historian nature early, I also organized spectacles depicting scenes from the Constitutional Congress that I’d gotten from another book, of which, sadly, I can no longer remember the name. All in all, it was quite a comprehensive show.

But the act in our main ring was the most impressive. One of daring and danger, involving a barely tamed beast…. Outrageous Odysseus, the Dangerous Dalmatian.

In the ring, this once domestic pet became a creature of great cunning. In spite of the inherent danger of the act, we soldiered on. Risking life and limb, we stood strong as the beast ran towards us. Veering off, at the last second, rather than maiming us, he would jump majestically through a hula hoop (provided there was a slice of cheese waiting on the other side) that was at least a foot off the ground.

And the crowd went wild.

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