Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lions and Tigers and…..I hate the circus!

I should warn everyone right now that this blog post is difficult for me to write on so many levels.  Just thinking about the topic makes me nervous, jittery and generally uneasy.  I think the title should set it up quite nicely.  Let me be clear this post is told from my perspective.  I can’t quite understand why but for some unknown reason, not everyone in my household maintains the same opinion as the one I am about to express.

It all started several months ago when it was announced the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey circus would be coming to town.  My wife had never been and was sure that the 3 year old would LOVE to see the spectacle.  She knew at that time my distaste for all things circus but bought me a ticket anyway.  Gee thanks.  Fast forward to last weekend.

The day was here and we were off to the event.  We could barely get Cinderella to take a nap she was so excited.  She knew there would be Elephants, Lions and popcorn.  She was in!  Earlier in the week she had announced to her mother and I that she was going to the circus to see the FLAMINGOS!?!?  I didn’t really have the heart to tell her so we just agreed and went on.

I had been dreading the day for months.  Now it was here.  It was in the afternoon so I had all day to fester.  That’s always a good thing.  We stop at the ATM and get some cash and grab a bite to eat before we head to the venue.  Given my queasiness that was probably not a great idea.  Oh well.

We arrive in downtown Tulsa and park the car.  Walking in to the BOK Center I am already getting nervous.  As soon as we get out of the parking garage you can hear some carney on a bull horn.  Not real sure what he is saying but he seems to be very passionate about it.  Whatever it is I’m sure it was about $20.  More on that later.

We manage to avoid the first wave of empty your wallet attacks but as soon as we’re in the door the lemonade stand proves to be too much for both my wife and daughter. 

“I’ll take two lemonades please.”

“That will be $18 sir.”

It’s a damn good thing they didn’t have a tip jar out.  I might have lost it.  Shell shocked and a bit shaken, we proceed to our seats.  That was no small feat in and of itself.  There are these little booths EVERYWHERE.  They have spinny lighty things, cotton candy, stuffed animals, roasted nuts, snow cones, popcorn…the list goes on and on.  To a three year old it’s like they’ve died and gone to heaven.  They want one of everything.  We managed to shuffle her quickly past all the little traps and arrived at our seats.  Whew, we made it, all that is behind us. 


Here come the people up and down the isles with the same wears as were in the lobby.  Yelling at your child to let them know what they have to offer.  Case in point, the snow cone dude shows up.  Cinderella immediately focuses on him like a hawk stalking a mouse. 

“I want one daddy.” 

“Fine, One snow cone please.”

“That will be $9”

“Those are made of ice and some flavoring right?”

“Yes sir, but you get the elephant mug you can take home with you.”

I’m still trying to decide if that was supposed to be good news but I shell out the ridiculous money and hand the treat to my daughter.  She takes the spoon and tries to take a bite and it is frozen almost solid.  I spend the next 20 minutes trying to chip away at the block of ice in the collectors edition mug so my precious angel can enjoy a snow cone.

Would you listen to me?  I’m becoming my father.  Oh dear.  Was he like this at my age or am I on some accelerated path  to un-cool daddyhood?  Maybe that just means I’ll mellow sooner. 

It’s time for the show to start.  Oh boy.

As expected about 400 clowns pour into the arena and begin their usual slapstick comedy routines that are supposed to amaze and entertain.  Time for a side discussion.

I don’t like clowns.  Haven’t liked them ever since I can remember.  I think it probably had something to do with a big brother perpetuating the fear.  Not only did I not like them but my brother kept this velvety looking clown painting hanging above his bed for YEARS.  I think he did it to keep me out of his room but it gave me the heeby jeebs.  It just seems like they are always up to no good.  Like they’re about to rob you or something.  The release of the move IT at the ripe age of 14 didn’t help to calm my irrational fear of clowns.  Thank you Stephen King.

Back to the circus.  In addition to not liking clowns I also don’t particularly care for the type of physical comedy routines that most clowns employ.  You know, pulling chairs out from each other, etc.  There is a lot of that going on.  Cinderella looks at me and says.

“Daddy, I don’t like clowns.”

“Atta girl.  It’s never too early to have an irrational fear.”

Then the head clown comes out.  The MC of the show and begins his spiel professing this as the “Greatest Show On Earth.”  Well, that’s a bit lofty don’t you think?  Maybe in 1860.  Whatever, I’m going to try and enjoy this.

We get all the clown antics out of the way and the show begins, there are horses that prance around in unison, dog tricks, elephants parading, canons firing; you know, all the usual circus stuff.  Even the things that make me cringe.  Trapeze acts and the high wire.   Especially the high wire.  Why anyone in their right minds would choose this lunacy as their career is beyond me.  Just watching the event makes me squirm in my seat.  Heck, I’m finding it difficult to type right now just thinking about it.

That brings me to another point.  Who are these people?  Who joins the proverbial circus.  How many people have you heard say “I want to be in the circus” when asked what they want to be when they grow up.  I bet you can count them on one hand if you can count any.  I bet there were 200 people in the performance alone.   I found myself trying to figure out what drew each of them to the circus.

Intermission arrives and I’m relieved we are going to have a break from the craziness.  But here come the vendors again.  This time the three year old locks on to the popcorn guy.  I can go for that.  I eat popcorn almost every night, or so it seems.  Small box, $7.  Look on my face, probably priceless.  I swear to you I have been to strip clubs that cost me less.

The second half of the show spins up and I realize that I am missing about half of everything that is going on.   There is no telling what I missed in the first half.  It’s the proverbial 3 ring circus in there.  And there is something different going on in each ring.  That’s just too much.  I can’t multi task like that.  It’s sensory overload.  Not knowing what I missed is now bugging the hell out of me to the point I can’t even focus on what’s going on.  I just eat some popcorn and watch the 3 year old.  That’s probably more entertaining than the actual show.  She has these wide eyes and she’s eating the popcorn like a zombie without removing her gaze from the show.  Music comes on and she dances.  That’s always entertaining.  The popcorn box proves to be too much for her to deal with so she hands it to me to hold.  But I can’t just hold it, I have to hold it with the opening facing her so she has easy access to the contents.  And she makes it very clear she isn’t sharing.

The show ends and I am relieved.  That is behind me.  Then it dawns on me that we have to run the gauntlet again.  All those booths outside are still whirring and spinning.  It’s not like going to the movies or something.  Oh no.  They get you coming and going.  One of the acts in the show were the lions, so naturally Cinderella HAD to have a stuffed lion.  $20 and we are headed for the door before she looses interest and decides she needs something else.  We battle our way out the door and make it to the car without incident.  Just listen to the silence. 

Wow…That’s nice.

1 comment:

  1. 400 clowns? Really? I only saw about 10. I guess since you missed half of the show you will definately have to return next year!! I cant wait :-)