(Many thanks to Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine for the inspiration for this post)
And no, this is not a sad post, but the only song I could come up with that has “clown” in the title is “Cathy’s Clown”, and that’s not one of my favorites.
So, let’s go back in time, shall we? The year was 1981, Wifey® and I were not yet married (although we were dating). Wifey-to-be® and I took my oldest niece and nephew to a function at their school. But that was many, many beers ago and neither of can remember what the event was. At this event was Hi-Pockets The Clown. Hi-Pockets had his run in various circuses until he tired of the constant moving. So he left the circus and became a firefighter of all things, still continuing his clowning at parties and such.
Then he had a stroke, and his firefighting days were over, but he could continue clowning, just at a slower pace. He would go to the local schools perform a little and try to recruit folks for his clown alley. I was hooked the minute I saw his pitch.
I immediately signed up. As both Wifey-to-be® and myself were working at Metro Zoo (now the Miami Zoo), I had an in to get us into a face painting setup. We charged $2 to paint a face. We kept $1.50, the zoo got the rest. Not a bad scheme. We would also warm up the audience for some of the animal shows. When we would walk from our spot by the gift shop to the amphitheater, the Bengal Tigers would go nuts. They would pace up and down their open enclosure following us.
So one of the first things a clown needs to do is design a face. I sat down with paper and pencil trying to come with something rather unique. Unfortunately, only one picture of me in makeup survives.
I had just finished putting on the face and still had the scarf on keeping my rather long hair out-of-the-way when my dad took this picture. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “Skeeter the clown”. Hi-Pockets told me this face is registered with Ringling Brothers, but I have no proof. But I hope it is.
One of my most beloved props was an Orangutan puppet named Merlyn. I bought him from a festival that was being held at the zoo. At the time, it cost me every penny I had, but the laughter and love Merlyn has generated has come back many times over.
Merlyn has seen quite a bit. Not only at the zoo, but he’s entertained friend’s kids, even went to a strip club with me once. I would guess he’s about 36 years old now. The first time I brought him out to Granddaughter-the-elder®, she was about 2 years old. She had no idea what it was. She wasn’t exactly scared, just very unsure. But it didn’t take long for her to warm up to Merlyn and ask me to go get him.Merlyn is enjoying his retirement awaiting the next generation to play with.And just to prove that I am not all clown, here is a photo, totally unrelated to this post, here is a picture of Wifey® and me in our kilts. Let’s face it, the Central Florida Highland Games are in about two weeks. We already have our tickets! If you’re in the area (dear ol’ brother mine) come join us. We’ll be over by the beer tent listening to Albannach.
Here’s the video to go with the title.. not the best I know. If you have a better song leave a comment telling me so.
And just to go with the kilts, here’s Albannach. The band name roughly translated means “Men Of Scotland”.
P.S. I’ve never understood the clown phobia. I know people that are very afraid of clowns, and I feel for them. ‘Cause clowns are cool!