Ah, those good old Cape May days… by Jackson D’Catur
I have never understood the fear of clowns. I remember fondly my time with Charlie Crolla’s Travelling Circus of Freaks and Sports, where my best friends were the world-famous “Homicidal Clowns” (motto: “You Will Die Laughing And Covered in Confetti!”), a pair of aged chimps who previously had been TV stars, and The Fat Bearded Tattooed Snake Lady (Ethel). Pa D’Catur had determined that my behaviour was not in keeping with that of Cape May’s First Family, and after Ma D’Catur wore out three leather belts endeavoring to beat the wildness out of me with no discernible effect, I was packed off for three years.
Admittedly, the clown visage is not a pretty one – that huge painted smile is most often poorly concealing the least cheery of faces. The high rates of alcoholism, drug abuse and convictions for capital crimes (I base this only on the Homicidal Clowns, who were recruited largely from Death Row, rather like The Dirty Dozen, only with little tricycles and red noses) make clowns rather tense company.
But still, many’s the evening we sat around the fire, eating the delicious beef stew the troupe always cooked up on the final night of our stay in a new town, in which they often mixed lucky trinkets; once I chipped a tooth on a gold wedding band, and Ethel had a little velvet bag of what she called her “Fancies,” cufflinks and other baubles salvaged from this dish over the years, and added to it, she said, with gifts from the gentlemen callers she entertained in her painted caravan as we toured. For some reason the gentlemen always had to leave in a rush, Ethel said, so though we never saw them again, they left her precious keepsakes. She would pass these on to me, sometimes: my favorite was what I took to be a tiny gold statuette of Buddha. Almost a year passed before I realized it was a gold molar.
And, to be fair, those clowns treated me like one of their own. A rough love, to be sure, and things happened that I will not ever speak of out loud, but still, it was a love and acceptance I never found again.
Beyond gaining the camaraderie of that surly, bewigged band of merry-makers, I also learned the life skills of cooking, big-top rigging, knife throwing and how to drive a tiny pedal car at high speed whilst wearing three-foot-long shoes. Also, I can apply a face full of makeup in 20 seconds flat, complete with a perfect tiny teardrop and little tufts of red hair.
To this day, when I see a clown I tear up, hug him, and keep my stiletto dagger close at hand.