All fun and games
I went to the circus a little while ago. Before you go and get yourself excited, this was not a big internationally touring circus with a French-ass name. This was a rag tag team of Australian gypsy travellers. A family of somewhat reluctant performers, whose hearts were bigger than the gaps in their smiles and empty grandstand.
After a Luke warm welcome, the ring became grounds for the most creatively random acts of live entertainment I’ve come across. I don’t need to know what kind of inner self journey it took these performers to discover these hidden talents. I was simply there to appreciate the folly and gasp at their indiscriminate menagerie, which included the largest cows and the smallest miniature pony I’ve seen.
In between Llamas, trained geese and a confusingly well taught Jack Russell dressed in a tiger suit was an interesting bicycle act. It was no more than a large lady on a bike, balancing on a custom built elevated ring. I don’t know which part of this act impressed me most, but I left feeling strangely inspired and a little bit lazy.
If that mildly obese middle aged woman could balance herself on a bike 2 metres off the ground on a circular metal railing, while dressed completely in Lycra…I’ve got a lot of lost time to account for. I bet she even welded the rig herself.
Then, there was a clown. He would roll up throughout the night, to keep the show lively and to encourage audience participation. I recognised him as the guy who ripped our ticket stubs earlier. I won’t tell you what he was wearing. I will say it made a very poor play on racial stereotypes.
As expected, he stood at the front of the ring and searched for volunteers from the crowd. He dragged some poor lady, wearing less than appropriate shoes and some other guy into the ring to help him skip by swinging a lengthy rope.
He looked to the crowd for one more volunteer and a very enthusiastic young boy was hoisted over the barrier and into the main arena. He was directed to stand behind the skipping rope and point at the sky. The clown then took off his jacket and threw it over the boys arm like a coat stand. I giggled with the crowd at the unexpected gesture. The little boys face turned red. I guess it sucks to have a crowd of, let’s say, nearly eighteen people laugh at you.
The boy’s arm slowly drooped, as he brought his other hand to cover his eyes. I looked at my friends. We awkwardly looked back at the boy. I was hoping that maybe I hadn’t noticed horse dung fly from the rope and into the boy’s eye.
My smile quickly faded. It was obvious; the boy was crying. The act continued like nothing was happening. We stared at him with our hands over our mouths. It seemed like we were the only people to notice.
I wondered if that was the making of a mid life breakdown moment. Where everything that goes wrong in the boy’s life could now be pinned to the night a clown made him pretend to be a coat rack and everyone laughed…
When it comes down to it, we had just accidently paid to watch a small (albeit overly sensitive) boy cry. The clown act was over. The kid was returned, potentially damaged. The show ended and the circus has since moved on. Perhaps, possibly for different reasons, there might be tears at each one of their shows. Or maybe we just came on the right night.
words Tennille Paterson