In front of people

By: goodislove

Jan 17 2013

Category: Ethiopia

1 Comment

Aperture:f/5.6
Focal Length:19mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/200 sec
Camera:NIKON D200

When I was young I was in 4-H – occasionally described as Boy Scouts for farm kids. One of the activities available was a county-wide clown troupe. We would meet occasionally and work on clowning skits, pratfalls and the like. This was the first place I met a kid named Johann – a name somewhat foreign in an area filled with Davids, Brians, Jennifers and Heathers. His parents were leaders in the clown troupe and they lived on a small ‘farmette’ behind the County Fairgrounds.

It was a cold evening in February and I was in a car with my friend, Broc, and his mom on our way to a clown performance at the Beaver Dam Middle School. Night was still falling early then.

I asked Broc’s mom if we could stop in at the Marshland Drug in Horicon. I wanted to pick up a Valentine’s gift for mother. Thinking this a quite charming request, she obliged.

Marshland Drug was also the closest store to our home that sold comic books. The latest issues of Marvel’s New Universe had come out and I wanted to pick up the latest D.P.7. The whole Mother’s Day thing, pfftt, whatever. I grabbed the comic book, paid, and skittered across the icy parking lot to the waiting car.

Broc’s mom gamely asked, “What did you pick up for your mom?”

“Hmmm… umm… well there was this brass ring I wanted to buy, but I didn’t know if it would fit,” I lied.

I don’t even know if Marshland Drug would have carried anything of the sort. It was fairly obvious that Broc’s mom saw straight through it, but I don’t think she said much more.

Arriving at the performance, we were confronted with one of the largest crowds any of us had ever seen. It was one of those gymnasiums with retractable basketball hoops and a stage at one end. There were students in chairs from all grades covering the gym floor. The wooden bleachers were pulled and filled. There was no shortage of hooting and hollering from the peanut gallery.

We launched into our little show with clown outfits culled from Halloween boxes in our basements (and an old mophead for a wig in my case). My skit was one of the few solo acts. It was a pantomime involving a little chap trying to reach an apple. He jumps, he falls, he gets flustered, he keeps trying. At the end of his rope, he jumps once more and makes the grab. That fresh, juicy apple, so ripe, so sweet. He shines it up and takes a huge bite, only to find a giant worm. Exit stage left with laughs.

I was nervous going on. Not only because of the audience. I felt the error of my ways. My lie. I was shaken. And though some performers may be able to perform through a heavy conscience, I was clearly not one of them. Not at 10 years old anyway. The applause was sparse at the end of my skit. I think I went through it too quickly.

At the end of the performance, we always had this part where we spread the joy of friendship and go out and shake hands with the audience. An eighth-grader, big kid, called me over among his laughing friends. As I extended my clown hand, he yanked it and I almost fell off the bleachers. His friends laughed and I skulked away.

I remember thinking this all would have gone much better if I hadn’t lied.


In the photo: Putting on an impromptu juggling show in Ethiopia to distract attention from friends conducting interviews at a coffee delivery station. Shout out to the folks at Bean There Coffee and Barista Magazine

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One comment on “In front of people”

  1. Oh, Marshland Drugs, I remember you well.
    We all have moments like this, of “if only I’d done things differently…” Regret, and getting beyond it, is life.


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