My Big Red Nose
© buggo 2003
Please do not take my work!
Back then my day began as I heard the inevitable buzz of my alarm clock. Every day of my life seemed the same. I would get out of bed, go over to the closet and grab my day’s wardrobe. Then I would waddle over to the dresser holding my pants up over my waist until I could maneuver the suspenders in place. Next I proceeded back over to the closet. I reached in and grabbed the red shoes that always made my feet look five times larger than they really were. The last thing I took from my closet was always my wig. My hair was excessively fluffy then and many times it did not want to fit underneath the wig. But I never let that stop me; somehow I always managed to get it all tucked underneath the wig. Now I headed off to the bathroom to put on a face that many would recognize. After putting on my entire bag of make up, except my lipstick, I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I saw how unhappy I was with my life and realized that this was just a way to mask myself and hide from it. I reached into the make up bag one last time and grabbed my fire engine red lipstick. I now realized that I had to hide all the sadness I felt with a large red grin that would take up the entire lower half of my face.
As I watched myself suddenly appear happier I began to remember how the monotony all started. It was the day my Aunt Jack took me to the circus. I watched in amazement as twelve clowns flooded out of a 1972 Volkswagon Beetle. It was blue with large neon colored hippy daisies painted on it. As I watched the clowns perform their routine, consisting of balloon animals, jokes, acrobatics, magic, and a few mishaps, I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
It was the first day of the Boise Fair. As usual, I gathered all my balloons, and water squirting toys and headed off to the fair. It was about five miles away from my apartment, not terribly far, but then again this was Boise and everything in town was only at the furthest ten miles away. On the way there I must have seen three-dozen cows, but one cow in particular stuck in my head. He was a solid black cow on a farm of all brown cows. He stood there aloof from all of them, in his small corner of the farm. It seemed as if he knew he was not one of them. I could see that he wanted to leave that farm, just as I wanted to leave the clown business. I tried not to dwell on what seemed so frugal at the time and continued on my way to the fair.
I pulled up to the fair and parked around back. There were not many people there yet, only the workers who where setting up the rides and the games. The fair did not start for about another 3 hours. I had arrived very early to get myself ready and prepared for the day. I worked on a few balloon animals, and then went to practice my stilt walking. Kids always seemed to love the stilt walking, even though it was the part of my act that frightened me the most. It was so easy for a child to hurt me if for some reason I was not as funny as they wanted me to be. The thought of children knocking me off my stilts, I could break an arm or leg or both. Therefore, I was always very cautious. While trying to find an open and safe area for me to stilt walk, I ran into another clown. He was older, wiser, been through so much more than I had. You could see it in his face, something only a fellow clown could see. He was tired, had been hurt, and disappointed that his dream did not turn out as he had hoped. I knew what he was feeling. Being a clown was not what I had expected either.
I walked over to the old wise clown and asked him if he was okay. He had this look about him that told me he was not. Maybe it was more the look in his eyes and the way he was holding his cigarette that told me, I am still not completely sure. He looked at me and said, “Yeah kid, I’m okay. I have just been doing this a few to many years.” I began to walk away when I decided to talk to him about my problem. I told him all about my epiphany I had while looking in the mirror this morning, and wanting to raise a family. I also told him about how I was thinking of leaving the business for that reason. He was interested in what I was saying, but instead of telling me what to do he just said, “I’m going to tell you a story kid, listen up it has great relevance to your situation.” I grabbed a large bale of hay and sat down next to him as he started his story.
“I was on my way home from a terrible day at a seven year olds birthday party. The kids had turned on me and I was leaving the house. All I had to show for my day of work was a face full of left over birthday cake. Since the children were not happy with my performance, neither were the parents. They had refused to pay me for my service and I left empty handed. My head hanging the whole way I walked the block and a half home. I was greatly disappointed and ready to tell my wife all about my day. I wanted to tell her that I was deciding to quit the clown business. As I rounded the corner to our house I noticed that her car was no longer in the driveway. I thought maybe she went to the store. Once inside I notice a lot was missing and I saw a letter taped to the wall just inside the house. It read,
I am sorry. Juggling school just did not pay off and the expense of balloons is just too much for me to handle. I met a man by the name of Phillip Bates. He’s a real computer geek, but I think I can learn to love him. He has a plan that will make him millions of dollars and that kind of money will provide a lot for the kids. Provide more than a clown ever could. Please don’t contact us; I don’t want to hurt the kids.
That was the last day I ever saw them. Now you might wonder why I didn’t go after them. I thought about it, but about the time I started to, Phillip Bates began making his millions and I knew my kids would live a much better life with money. Turns out his idea he called Incrosopht really was necessary for computers.
So you see, if you ever think you truly want a family, being a full time clown is just not the way to go. Maybe some have had positive experiences but I haven’t and I do not know many who have.”
I looked over to see his mascara running. I knew he had been through more than he was telling me. I sat there in the silence and thought about my experience and about the aloof cow I had seen on the way over. I thought about my personal experiences with kids and me as the entertainer. I thought about the time when the kids at the circus turned on me for not being able to create balloon animals. Also, I thought about the time when the kids found it funnier to bully and trip the clown rather than to watch the clown try to be funny and amuse them. In the beginning my experiences were fun and exciting, probably only because they were new experiences. But majority of my clown life had been filled with disappointment. I was not what I wanted to be to those kids.
Through his experiences and my own I realized I needed to be in a position where kids respected me. That they would not always demand so much entertainment, so much humor, and so many balloon animals. I needed to help them learn how to treat people, to know right from wrong, teach them skills they will need in life, and maybe make them laugh along the way.
I stood up and shook Jacks hand. I thanked him for helping me see where my life needed to be. I left my stilts there with him as I walked back to my car. I drove back to my apartment and packed. I packed only as much as I could fit in my car as quickly as I could.
I locked my apartment door one last time, walked down the steps and got into my 2002 blue Volkswagon Beetle. As I drove away I opened the sunroof and began throwing out my clown paraphernalia one by one. While on the expressway I reached down and took off my big red shoes. The car engine slowed as I took my foot off the accelerator to remove the shoe. I reached up and let the wind catch my shoes. They were the first to go. My bag of make up was next, it was placed in the seat next to me. I reached over and with one quick toss of my hand it too was gone. Next was the balloons and water squirting toys. I kept going until everything was gone. I watched my life fall out the roof of my car, and it felt right. I knew I was doing the right thing. I looked at the dashboard and saw one last thing, my big red nose. As I started to throw it out, I suddenly stopped; something else had caught my eye. I saw the exit to the road where I had seen the cows. I maneuvered the car to make it to the exit just in time, a few feet further and I would have passed the exit. I pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the cow. I reached up onto the dashboard and grabbed my clown nose. I then placed it on my face one last time. I pulled the mirror down from above the sun visor. Glanced at my reflection and smiled. As I took the nose off I felt a comforting feeling come over me. I rolled down the window and threw the nose as hard as I could. It glided through the air with great grace and landed directly at the cow’s feet. I made a u-turn in the middle of the road and smiled as I headed back to the expressway.
I knew that I would always remember the life I led, and remember who I was; I was Silly Sally. Sally would always be a part of my life. I am now known as Elizabeth. It is the first time in a long time I have been called by my true name. I followed the signs to Louisville, and after many hours on the road I realized where I wanted to be. After getting a new apartment, and preparing to start my new life, I enrolled for the Fall 2001 semester at Bellarmine University as an Elementary Education major. I was going to teach the kids and help them grow.
Ironically my clown career began with my Aunt Jack who took me to the circus and ended old wise Jack who told me his life story. Today I have told you mine. Where ever you go in life make sure that you are happy, healthy, and know exactly who you are and where you really want to be. © buggo 2003