Carlton’s Column for Clowns, Jesters, and Fools

FeaturesOther Features

Written by: James Woolley and Theo Erickson

I get it, it’s easy to hate being a clown. We make people happy, until we don’t. We’re too much, too scary, too garish. We disrupt business, our shoes honk when we walk, our flowers squirt at inopportune times, and getting around in our cars is a nightmare. I mean, just the other day I was getting ready for work, and as I was straightening my sleeves I pulled out a stray handkerchief — bright red nylon, standard fare. Which was upsetting, because I was sure that I had stashed my silk square up there last week. But as I searched for that one, I kept pulling out all these other handkerchiefs — they just kept coming and coming and coming, until they were shooting out from the ends of my sleeves in a never-ending stream of colorful bolts that whipped and swirled around the bathroom, knocking things off the counters, ripping the shower curtain from the rod. No matter how hard I clawed and pulled at the torrent of handkerchiefs it wouldn’t stop; they just kept pouring out, growing still into drifts and flurries and piles at my feet, until a flock of them swept my legs and I fell — I fell into a mountain of fabric that hit me like a swinging fist, yet felt like a warm embrace, and plunging further into the massive hoard of handkerchiefs, I saw the glaring eyes of my co­workers, angry at my oversized, squeaking shoes, or my garish dress, or some other clownish aspect of myself I couldn’t control; their gaze pinned me down and twisted my body into a typeface of their design, flayed out and displayed like a pinned butterfly, so I could be stared at and evaluated by those who knew every­thing I didn’t. Among the voyeuristic spectators I feel the pressure of my own eyes, filled with more judgment than any other, staring at myself and hating what I was but unable to change. For no matter how difficult it was to live each day as the clown I am, it was infinitely easier to cling to the image I already had of myself, facedown and drowning in handkerchiefs, doomed to an infinite jest without
rest or reprieve.

I hate it when that happens, but luckily there’s an easy way to avoid it. Just don’t go looking for your handkerchiefs, which is advice that would’ve been helpful to me before I was standing knee-deep in a layer of them, but my foresight has never been 20/20. Seeing everything spilled out doesn’t make putting them away any easier, but by doing a little close-up magic in the mirror, you might be able to convince yourself that the strings of handkerchiefs are truly dis­appearing as you reel them back into your sleeves, one by one. Now pick up the soap that fell off the counter, hang the curtain back up, take a deep breath, and get out of the house. There’s always more clowning to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *