Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Clowns Scare Me

The last few nights, I've skirted around the Bobo doll experiment, and it seems as if, in yet another example of collective subconsciousness of, well, the insane, G. W. was posting on similar childhood fears after discovering a website called KinderTrauma. All kinds of crazy stuff on there, but nothing beats real life, folks. I am afraid of clowns, and I have been since I was a kid. I can accept them as a productive part of society, I certainly can tell you that clowns will not really eat your brains like a zombie will, and I'd probably even let a clown touch me by accident in a crowded gimp dungeon, well, if I ever went into one of those places. Now Chicago has its clown history. Bozo started here, he was on television continuously for almost fifty years. John Wayne Gacy was Pogo the Clown. But my trauma goes back to when I was a kid, and it goes back to an event NO ONE ELSE CAN REMEMBER! I had recurring dreams of the event long into my twenties, much as I have a certain cityscape of sorts that inhabit my nights, from el stops with different names, strange intersections where real ones do exist, and even this odd pink building far north in what I perceive to be the city, its like a parallel Chicago that I dream about. And so perhaps this clown event happened on Earth-14. I KNOW this happened, I know the smells, the colors, the movements around me. And yet, according to my folks, and as I've said before, I grew up poor so I believe them, we never went to the circus, any kind of circus. Yet, I recall with crystal clarity a clown in a burnt sienna and white suit, three big floppy buttons and pirate-clown sleeves get blasted out of a cannon to land in a net not far away. Only it didn't happen that way. The clown shot into the air and exploded and then was gone. Just smoke. I always dream of the smell of that particular smoke. The crowd reacts horribly, as do the performers. There is a terrible explosion about halfway between the cannon and the net, the smoke is dirt brown and then grey and then white and the clown is gone. And EVERYBODY who works for the circus knew something went horribly wrong. I remember faces in the crowd, men and women still were dressing formally for the event, suits and dresses, kids with pink and green balloons more than the regular red and blue. I stopped having the dream in its entirety in the mid 1980s, but it might have just been bumped back by the newer, crazier dreams. So now I've put in down and judge me how you will. I was never at a circus but I saw a clown explode and a woman with a red hat next to me shrieked.

Doll's boy's asleep

Doll's boy's asleep
under a stile
he sees eight and twenty
ladies in a line

the first lady
says to nine ladies
his lips drink water
but his heart drinks wine

the tenth lady
says to the nine ladies
they must chain his foot
for his wrist's too fine

the nineteenth
says to nine ladies
you take his mouth
for his eyes are mine.

Doll's boy's asleep
under the stile
for every mile the feet go
the heart goes nine

e.e.cummings, 1923