The folks in charge of ruining life have really gone too far this time. I detected the latest crack in the foundation of Western civilization when I took my nephew to the circus. Entering the arena, I immediately sensed nothing strange. Nothing grotesque. Nothing even foul-smelling.
“Cotton candy is poison!” the sprout vendor snapped when we asked about the concessions. Somewhat concerned, we filed into the sideshow, suspiciously entitled “A Celebration of Diversity.” And when the barker stepped to his podium, I knew we were in for a long afternoon.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry. Hold on to the handrails, and step right this way for The Safest Show on Earth! Each and every attraction is guaranteed nonexploitative and environmentally friendly, meeting or exceeding all guidelines and sanctions from every corner of the globe!
“Thrill to the sensitive poetry reading of the strong man—his strength not muscular, but emotional! Behold the amazing Salamander Girl, who will engross you with a roundtable discussion on the plight of the amphibian-like.
“Then, venture on to our magnificent menagerie of beasts, where you’ll come face-to-face with breeds of dogs from as far away as Australia, felines that have clawed the thrones of Persia and Siam! And last, but not least, Winston the Extremely Large Rabbit, whose ears, when stretched, span a full 14” from tip to tip. Our dander-sensitive visitors are invited to enjoy an extraordinary hypoallergenic collection of aquatic species recovered from the briny depths of the Seven Seas.”
Starved for spectacle, we continued into the arena, and took our seats. The lights dimmed, and four clowns entered the center ring in a Volvo. Unhitching their shoulder restraints, they emerged to perform a variety of nondegrading high jinks. Instead of pratfalls and seltzer showers, their antics consisted of puns and a rather meager talent for twisting balloon animals. Because of choking danger, however, the balloons were kept out of the reach of small children.
I held out a glimmer of hope when the acrobats took their places, and the ringmaster called out, “Women and men, boys and girls, and those in transition. Direct your attention, if you will, to the trapeze—suspended a full 50 decimeters above the arena floor. There, tethered by the thinnest cables allowed by our insurance company, the Flying Gravazki Siblings will hang, using only their bare hands. As you thrill to this prodigious acrobatic feat, the management reminds you that circus performing is but a small part of the rich and diverse culture of the Balkan states, known the world over for their outstanding ceramics and five dessert wines.”
When “Encounters With Big Cats” turned out to be not lion taming but a preproduced multimedia presentation, my patience ran out. I rose from my seat.
“We want real tigers!” I shouted, making my way to the aisle and down the stairs. “Real tigers in a cage with a real guy with a whip and a chair! And send in the clowns while you’re at it. And bona fide acrobats. For 55 bucks, we deserve to see death defied!”
I broke through a cordon of undersized, elderly security guards, and made for the ringmaster—but not before one of the guards had managed to grab hold of some belt loops, and yanked my pants down to my ankles. As luck would have it, it was laundry day, and I was wearing my last pair of underwear: the daisy-dotted granny-panties.
Undaunted, I chased the ringmaster around the arena to gales of laughter, while, on the big screen high above the floor, a tigress nursed her newborn cubs. Needless to say, the beautiful moment was ruined.
The police finally showed up to haul me off, but it was too late. Entertainment had occurred.
And what was my reward for providing a genuine laugh, a surprise, a memorable moment?
I ended up in jail—caged like a beast.
Well, not like a beast, but you know, like a stupid, narrow-minded, insensitive animal hater. I’m so ashamed, of course. The old, traditional circus should become extinct, but, hey—consider the source here—I do cherish my childhood memories of it.
Bye for now.