Friday, January 13, 2006

Confronting Demons

When I was seven years old I had a dream that I was in the living room watching television with my parents. At some point, my father decided that he needed something to drink. He left the living room and headed for the kitchen. As soon as he stepped into the hallway separating the two rooms however, Bozo the clown burst out of my parents’ bedroom, located at the far end of the hall, with a butcher knife in hand and a mouth full of silver fangs and various other forms of dental armament. My father never had a chance. He was disemboweled before the commercial ended and, with his throat cut, dragged by the murderous clown back into my parent’s bedroom where he would be consumed.

After my father’s gurgling screams died down, my mother calmly explained to us that a Bozo must have gotten into the house and that she would call an exterminator in the morning. In the meantime, we could not walk on the hallway after sundown or else the savage would eat us. If we had to go to the kitchen, we needed to jump over it. She also told me to keep an eye on my infant brother and make sure he did not try to crawl over it.

A little while after that, my mother decided to go to the kitchen as well. She jumped over the hallway on the way there, but forgot to on the way back. She too met a horrible demise at the hands of the clown right in front of us. It was a very disconcerting experience. I decided to watch more TV to try to get my mind off of it. During the following commercial break, I tore my eyes away from the screen just in time to see my infant brother sitting in the hallway, waving at me. A large, gloved hand then appeared above his hand and snatched him out of my sight. He barely had time to scream before being silenced by a sound reminiscent of a large meat cleaver slamming against a wooden cutting board. I turned up the volume to try to drown out the horrifying sounds of tearing flesh, gnashing teeth and the spackle of crackling grease bubbling over in a frying pan. There was nothing I could do about the smell of bacon permeating the house though and it was making me very hungry.

I wanted to get a snack out of the kitchen, but did not want to become one in the process. Still, I wandered over to the hallway and peered down it to see what was lying in wait. The door to my parents’ bedroom cracked open ever so slightly and an evil predatory eye peered back. Bozo was waiting to pounce. I was quite hungry though, so I decided to chance it. I went to the far end of the living room to get a running start and then shot myself towards the kitchen with all the speed I could muster. I jumped just before I hit the hall and hurtled myself through the air. I looked to my left as I was still airborne and captured a glimpse of the cannibal clown barreling out of the room at me at a full sprint, giant clown feet moving at maximum velocity and butcher knife in hand. He was not quick enough though and before he had even made it to the bathroom, I was safely tumbling across the kitchen floor.

While I was there, I loaded myself up with potato chips, cookies and soda, enough provisions to get me through the night and prepared myself for another running start. This time I tripped though, bounced once across the kitchen’s linoleum deck and landed facedown in the hallway carpet. Knowing the fate that was about to befall me, I rolled over and watched terrified as Bozo loomed menacingly above me. He smiled wide enough to allow a stream of crimson saliva pass through his fangs and run down his chin. He then raised his bloody knife and…….

…..I woke up. Every time. I had this dream over and over again for at least two years and it never deviated the slightest bit. I still remember it vividly though it has been at almost thirty years since I last had it. It was terrifying and when I was little, I was petrified of going to bed because I knew that there was a very good possibility that I would be forced to relive a moment that had the potential of setting my potty training back several years. Needless to say I was not a big fan of The Bozo Show.

That’s why I could not understand why, when my second grade classmate Michael Warner’s mother called and invited me to join her son at a live taping of the show, my mother did not hesitate to send me over there with them. It was an experience so traumatic for me that I have honestly repressed the memory. I do not recall a single detail of that day save that I did actually go. I do remember watching myself on television the following day though, sitting wide-eyed and terrified in the stands with about twenty other kids, completely silent and probably wishing that the police would bust down the door to the studio and kill that maniac with a dull fire axe. At one point I was chosen to take the stage with about five others and do some retarded kid dance but I refused to leave my seat until that unholy abomination was well out of sight and hopefully, being restrained and brutalized by the uniformed representatives of the law enforcement community.

My mother got the point. She kept my exposure to clowns to a minimum after that though she regularly tried to reason with me that by and large they were harmless entertainers employed to make children laugh, not make them entrées to be devoured over a plate of fava beans and a succulent glass of Chianti. In time, the nightmares subsided and so did my paralyzing fear of anything in pasty white makeup. Eventually, I could even dine in at McDonald’s without wondering which one of my classmates had been ground up to form the hamburger my parents expected me to finish.

Just when my phobia seemed to be on the verge of becoming a distant memory however, the news broke of a serial killer in Chicago who tortured, raped and killed over thirty young men and boys and then buried them in a crawl space beneath his suburban home. In addition to being murderous psychopath, John Wayne Gacy also happened to be a clown and several frightening photographs of him in all of his creepy regalia were plastered all over the nation’s television screens. My suspicions were confirmed.

So I have this thing about clowns. A couple of months ago, my wife brought my son home from day care and announced that they had arranged a field trip to the Shrine Circus. She asked me if I would take the day off work so that I could help and make it feasible for us to take all three of the kids to go see it. For obvious reasons, I told her that this would be unlikely as the period immediately following the holiday shut down is sure to be busy and I will almost definitely be needed at work. She thought that having the kids play hookie from school, watch aerial acrobatics and stunts involving animals, eat cotton candy and gorge themselves on soft drinks would be fun. I thought that paying my hard earned money to surround myself with heavily disguised sexual deviants with cookbooks penned by Hannibal Lector would not. I briefly considered going, just in case one of the malcontents was unable to repress his primeval urges and, overcome with an irrepressible thirst for the blood of an innocent, charged the audience but in the end decided that if they wanted to disregard my misgivings about the situation and go, they were on their own. My wife ended up taking the kids by herself.

When I got home from work yesterday, I asked my kids how they liked the circus. My daughter just beamed as she described the dancing poodles, the tigers leaping through rings of fire and the bear that rode the bicycle. My son on the other hand, seemed pretty awestruck by getting to watch an elephant pee in a garbage can, an event that was confirmed by my wife. This was not a planned part of the act but as it took place center stage, turned out to be one of the most exciting parts of the show. It definitely made a lasting impression on my son, who could not stop talking about it. Strangely, this kind of had me momentarily rethinking my policy on clowns.

Now, I’ve had some experience with elephants. I even wrecked one once. I have never seen one provide a urine specimen in a garbage can though and I think that I just might possibly pay $12 and brave a small army of tarted-up savages to see something like that. That is something you just do not typically see on TV. Not even if you have cable.

Next year, I think I’m going to face my fear and go.


Blogger Solo said...

Holy crap, that's gotta be the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Those degenerates have raised my suspicions on more than one occasion. The last being, of course, the time I was fondled by one. Bastards...

9:19 PM  

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