Summer Series {44} The circus


August 4, Thursday

Who can resist when the circus comes to town, especially a one-ring circus set up on the grass behind the Knights of Columbus? Lulu entered the library’s coloring contest and won four tickets.

We paid an extra two dollars each and sat in the front row. The only moment that gave me pause was when the elephants were performing. At times, they were close enough to touch. There was a two-foot wall that separated us and in three steps that giant foot could crush my family and me. I said a silent prayer that they were well-fed and doted on, that all the performers gave them a friendly pat as they went by and slipped them sugar cubes or carrots or whatever would make an elephant smile to himself; that this wouldn’t be the night that their resentment boiled over and they decided not to go along with the charade that the ladies on their back with feathers in their hair could compel them to stop.

I was hoping for a real side show with a bearded lady, but we had to settle for paying a dollar each to walk behind a curtain and view an eight-legged spider and a two-headed turtle. The spider was behind glass, so I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like someone glued two legs onto a black plastic spider. And what I guess was supposed to be a chupacabra looked like a muskrat in a jar of murky yellow water.

As we watched a family of acrobats flip each other into the air, I felt a twinge of regret that I had never joined a circus, even for just a year, and now never would. The acts weren’t spell-binding, the performers didn’t ooze charisma; they looked like hard-working people who had assembled into a kind of family and were having fun.

I told my girls I would give them the go-ahead if they ever came to me and said they wanted to join the circus and travel the country for a year. I want to let them know that their twenties are for exploring and taking chances and trying things out; for backpacking across Europe or joining the Peace Corps or singing in a piano bar to make a little extra money or working on a ranch in Montana or jumping out of an airplane. I hope my girls do it all.


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