Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Circus Freude"

“If there were an award for “Hypersensitive Overreaction”, I’d be a “Certifiable Finalist.”  I apparently over-identify with failure.  I view success, ot with exultatio but wit relief.

I ave to stop writig ow.  Tree letters o m computer have stopped workig.

I mea it!”
There is little that is more pathetic, after paying top dollar for great seats at a performance of a circus internationally celebrated as “The Greatest Show On Earth” than a person saying, peering coweringly into his lap,

“I can’t look.”

That was me.

What was I doing there?

Backstory:  Rachel found out that the world-famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus was in town and she wondered if we would care to join her and husband Tim, two and three-quarter year-old Milo and three-month-old Jack at a mid-morning performance.  We immediately said “Yes!” though with that company we’d have said “Yes!” to anything.

“We’re going to get the car washed.  You wanna come?”


We really like those guys.  Is what I’m saying.

As a couple, our distinct preference is for the folksy ambiance of little circuses.  We have attended the Togni Brothers Circus, in Como, Italy (just after the Togni Brothers had broken up, leaving us to watch what appeared to be the less proficient of the divied up entertainers), the La Porte Indiana County Fair Circus (where we had to leave at intermission due to an enjoyment-sapping infestation of mosquitoes – INDIANA-BORN USHER:  “I’m surprised you lasted that long.”) and California’s Pickle Family Circus (which was perfect.)

But, greatly appreciating the invitation, it was “Big Circus here we come.”

As we approached the circus’s Staples Center venue, we were bombarded by picketers opposing the mistreatment of animals.  There were no picketers, it should be reported, favoring the mistreatment of animals, though by the picketers’ standards, those would include everyone buying a ticket to the circus.

It is not in me to object vigorously to their passionate concern.  But to me – and not being an actual jungle animal I am necessarily anthropomorphizing – well… I once wrote an Interview With A Giraffe (which is in here somewhere) in which the giraffe-interviewee, dreading their imminent return to “the Wild”, when queried about the liberating option of “freedom”, insightfully replied,

“Freedom’s just another word for running for your life.”

In some ways, the “Circus” alternative appears pampering by contrast.

CIRCUS ANIMAL:  “They feed us, they bathe us, they brush our hair and they give us treats all the time.  So we hop on our back legs for a few seconds, and yeah, sometimes their particular training techniques are not all that appreciated.  But, compared to being ripped to shreds by our natural predators… we’ll take this.”

(Which reminds me of the book that all the animals carry with them called Who Eats Who, so when they see an animal they don’t recognize they can check the book and find out whether to run after them or run away from them.  Which reminds me of the Lion King song, “The Circle of Life”, which celebrates being eaten by the appropriate animal rather than by hyenas.  The End.)

The entire outing was intendedly Milo-centric, as Baby Jack is at this point fully occupied adjusting to his extra-utero environment and focusing his eyes.  Overall, Milo appeared not quite ready for the circus’s stimular onslaught, though he was visibly transported by the motorcycle act. 

As for me, well… I had surmised it was an impending heart procedure that made me a “Fraidy Cat” at a pre-surgery performance of Cirque Du Soleil.  It turns out, however, I am just naturally terrified.

I don’t know why other people find entertainment in the perilous activities of others – and judging by the audience’s enthusiasm, the majority of people do – but somehow, this curious enthusiasm eludes me.

Unlike the under-three year-old Milo who balked stubbornly only at the “Big Cats” presentation – demanding a temporary extraction from the premises – I was, by contrast, upset by virtually everything, though, as a adult, I was compelled to remain in my seat,  gazing distractingly at my jeans.

Everything felt life-endangering.  The seven motorcyclists speeding around in intricate patterns inside the perilously constricted “Globe of Steel”, the aerialists swinging way up by the ceiling, the equestrians racing their horses at break-neck speed, as they slid under their bellies and, grazed by galloping hoofs, worked their way up the other side. 

Where were their mother’s, I kept wondering, hollering, “Stop that!  You’ll kill yourself!”  I find it death-defying crossing a really wide thoroughfare on foot.  These crazies risked their mortality before lunch.

I also realize that it was not just challenging death that upset me; it was also humiliation.  There was this cohort of women, flinging these sort of barbell-shaped objects high in the air and then catching and balancing them on narrow strings with unbelievable dexterity.  I could barely look at them either.

What if one of them dropped one, I agonized?  Would they get yelled at?  Would they get fired?  Would they get demoted to the clown contingent, forced into red noses and floppy shoes, offering in uninspired foolishness to an uncaring crowd?

Why did their fate concern me?  I have no idea.  You would think dying would be more serious than the shame of dropping a thing off a string.  But the way my “fear sensors” reacted, they felt disturbingly the same.

“If there were an award for “Hypersensitive Overreaction”, I’d be a “Certifiable Finalist.”  I apparently over-identify with failure.  I view success, ot with exultatio but wit relief.

I ave to stop writig ow.  Tree letters o m computer have stopped workig.

I mea it!”

1 comment:

Mike T. said...

I agree with you about watching people do death-defying stunts live, Earl. I'm always afraid I'm going to be there that one time when the trapeze artist just misses the grasp of his partner and goes plummeting to the ground below. I can watch movies with perilous action because I know they're fake and prerecorded. Live, real perils are another matter entirely.