Dec. 4, 2015
The world divides broadly into two groups of people: those who like clowns and those who don’t. Also those who like parades and those who really can't be bothered.
First off: clowns. Why? What exactly are they good for? And why are they always beeping? They aren’t funny. Something calamitous is always happening to them, which one is supposed to find hilarious and I never do. They’re suspiciously like mimes, with whom they surely share a common, benighted ancestor. John Gacy was a clown. Ronald McDonald is a clown. In recent news, Doo Doo the Clown rescued a woman attacked by a crazed meth head in Toronto. However, I have it on good authority that Doo Doo was not actually a clown, but a human being impersonating a clown. I believe that it’s safe to say – generally speaking – that Steven King was not wrong when it comes to clowns. Clowns are creepy at best, and, at worst, the stuff of nightmare. My advice to Cirque de Soleil: keep the acrobats, the trapeze artists and the contortionists; lose the clowns. You're freaking out a significant part of your audience.
My husband and I do not see eye to eye on the subject of clowns. Of course, he wanted to run away with the circus as a child, while I wanted to be President of the United States. Admittedly my ambition had less to do with ultimate power or world peace than it had to do with oranges. I was pretty sure that, as President, I would be able eat as many oranges as I wanted; in fact, I planned to have a bar fridge full of oranges placed next to my desk in the Oval Office. In any case, my husband says I don’t like clowns for the same reason I don't like Christmas -- because I am bitter and jaded. Clowns are for children, he says. Clowns make children laugh.
Not my children.
When Sabrina was about four and the twins were still in diapers, my ex and I took them for a Spring Break weekend at the Four Points Sheraton in Toronto. The Sheraton’s siren promise? A care-free, kid-free weekend in the heart of the Big City for beleaguered parents while hotel employees royally entertained their lucky offspring with water sports, games and crafts.
The first clue that this weekend was not going to go as planned came when a shell-shocked event coordinator announced in a wavering voice that, by 10 am on the Saturday, so many kids had barfed and pooped in the pool it would have to be closed until further notice.
The second was when we went to drop them off at the hotel’s playroom only to be greeted by . . . you guessed it . . . clowns. Not to put too fine a point on it, my children refused categorically to go anywhere in the company of a clown and we spent the rest of the weekend traipsing around Toronto, all three kids in tow, looking for trashcans into which we could discreetly deposit poop-y diapers, the twins having chosen to celebrate Spring Break with an exuberant case of diarrhea.
I also don't like parades. I do not like watching them on television, but I particularly do not like watching them in person. That’s because it’s always cold when parades happen and someone always has to go to the bathroom. Frequently that someone is me. And, inevitably, unless you show up hours in advance, you and your clutch of restless, winging children are two or three deep from the curb, which means they are all clamoring to be lifted up so that they can see. It has been my experience that children tend to become very heavy very quickly, once aloft. And all this pain and suffering for what? For a glimpse of Santa Claus, who, coincidentally, also inspired in my children, if not downright fear and loathing, then sufficient anxiety that none of them could ever be persuaded to perch on the lap of a Santa they did not know to actually be someone else. "It's OK," I would whisper to them, urging them forward. "It's not really Santa! It's just Oliver! I swear!"
That being said, I might enjoy watching a parade from a window or a heated balcony, comfortably seated, wine glass in hand, in much the same way as I enjoy golf -- the riding-in-the-cart part, that is, and the Caesar; not the actual golf.
So don't send in the clowns and, please, rain on my parade. I am bitter and jaded. And just the least bit trepidatious.