Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fear of Clowns

One of the guys at work is, at first glance, maybe a little scary. What front teeth he has are mere splinters, though he is a happy sort and smiles all the time. When you're feeling down, this man will offer you his faith-based, simple, yet very humble and sincere advice. Usually, he's spot-on. A serious never-judge-a-book-by-its-cover lesson all of us could benefit from. But, his appearance, if you didn't know him or speak to him, is a little frightening.

I am sitting at a round cafe-size table in the company office. We are waiting to clock in. A lot of us are in chairs for a moment, recovering from a morning when most of us wake up at 4:00 a.m. in the dark, pile into cars, pick up other co-workers and hit the highway for an hour-long drive. Punch in is at 6 a.m. Nobody is truly awake.

One of the women I work with is sitting across from me. She is pretty laid-back, so I am surprised when our kind and gentle, snaggly toothed co-worker walks into the office, and she visibly bristles - every nerve vibrating. Her entire body stiffens and braces itself against the back of the chair she's in. She eyes him cautiously. He punches in. He leaves the office with a "good morning, ladies!" I respond with "hey! Have a good day!" She watches him walk through the office door to go outside for his customary morning cigarette with our other smokers. When she is sure he is gone, she relaxes a little.

I ask her what the Hell is going on. You look freaked out, I say. Is everything okay? You all right this morning? Shit, girl, you look like you've seen a ghost.

She says everything is good. She has a hard time when he's around, even though she knows he's a really good guy. But she's okay now, he's gone.

Seriously? Really? I ask her. I kind of chuckle a little. He freaks you out? HIM? I am surprised. We all know him to be a sweetie.

No, she says. It ain't that. I'm afraid of clowns. Terrified to death of them. No joke!

CLOWNS? You're afraid of clowns? No shit, I say. I think a moment. I don't get it, I tell her.

We was talking one day, and he told me he was a Carnie for a lot of years.

Yeah, I heard that, I say.

Yup. So every time I see him, I think of clowns. I see him in clown make-up, working the rides. Putting them little kids on the ponies or some shit. So he scares the crap outta me. Every day. I am absolutely scared to death of him. I know it don't make sense. But every day, I see him and he's in clown make up.

I start to laugh. Not at her! I touch her hand and apologize. I don't want to seem insensitive, but it is...right now...the funniest damned thing in the world.

A picture, a scene, is playing out in my wild imagination...and I am laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes. I can't stop!

Right now, in my head, some mother has hired a clown for her daughter's birthday party - and this guy shows up. The girls are screaming, clutching their mother's legs, scared shitless and wanting to go home. NOW. The happy snaggly-toothed clown leans down to give one of them a sucker, or ask them a silly question...the child is shaking....I am laughing so hard. A whole neighborhood of children ruined forever! Expecting Ronald McDonald or Bozo, or a mime squeaking out animals from inflated sausage-like balloons - all those images SHATTERED FOREVER because Janie's mom hired the WORLD'S SCARIEST CLOWN...

She starts laughing, too. I am laughing because this man is so sweet, but so damned scary - clown make-up would just make him something out of a horror flick. Seriously, every bad fun-house worth the admission would put this man in make-up and have him pop out to scare the hell out of everyone. He'd be famous!

All of this is running through my head...and I can't stop laughing. I am totally seeing what SHE sees, and it's funny as hell.

If he was evil, I guess it wouldn't be so funny.

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