Clowning around

I hate clowns. I hate the way they look, I hate the way they dress, I hate the way they act. And I hate myself even more for saying it. But I guess if we’re being honest, the real reason I despise clowns is because they terrify me. No joke. And, unfortunately, it is not just clowns. Those large furry mascots at sporting events and almost anyone wearing a costume in a non-Halloween, non-theme party context I find downright frightening. In the past, it was not uncommon for me to cross the street upon spotting a clown. I’ve declined invitations to telltale events like the circus and carnivals. And visiting Disney World with my family became a week-long challenge of avoiding life-size incarnations of Mickey and Minnie. Needless to say, my autograph book came home with its pages empty, and that’s how I wanted it.

My life without clowns suited me fine.

That is, until one brief moment two weeks ago in a rowdy bar in Mexico.

I had been standing inside a crowd of people, and when the sweaty pushiness of the group became too unbearable, I weaved my way through them until I was huddled on the outskirts and able to breathe.

It was then that I noticed him—a clown—also working his way through the crowd.

My heart sank and my first inclination was to scowl. I wasn’t expecting my lifelong phobia to find me in Cancun. I hadn’t spent money to see clowns.

I sized him up. He was wearing a stupid orange jumpsuit and had hot pink face paint. I hated him almost immediately. But upon a closer inspection, I noticed that he was also scowling. In fact, he was one unhappy clown. He would only smile when someone would pull him into a picture. The thing was, without the typical clown-y smirk, he seemed so human. He wasn’t a clown; he was an unhappy man in a clown suit.

With my sympathies towards someone trying to make an honest living overriding any past fears I had about his profession, I made my way over to him. Our interaction was short. I asked for a balloon hat, and he made it. I tipped him, and he smiled. This made me happy, because the last thing I wanted was a clown with a bone of contention towards me.

And it was no big deal. The experience made me re-evaluate my fears, and I decided that all my pent-up anger towards clowns was because I was actually jealous of them.

As a child, I was painfully shy and awkward. In elementary school, I would often have to eat my lunches at home because the thought of chatting with my peers was enough to make me physically ill. My parents, concerned that I going to live a reclusive life riddled with ulcers, enrolled me in a drama program at our local community centre. It took longer then they had hoped, but eventually I came out of my shell. However, to this day, I have never been able to act as carefree and approachable as clowns do. I don’t know if it’s the face paint or frills that give clowns their confidence, but I wish I knew their secret. I’ve reason to believe that it’s because they don’t care what people think of them.

Now, I still know that I will never be able to watch Stephen King’s It, and I am not jumping into a mascot suit anytime soon, but I can respect someone who isn’t afraid to clown around once in a while.

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