Be a clown. Be a clown. All the world loves a clown.
I wonder if even Judy Garland and Gene Kelly bought into that, because I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone who actually likes clowns.
Til Sophie. She digs them. Well, not the way Sophie digs stuff and gets all OCD about it. (This morning I slipped and used the term in front of Annabelle, who asked what it stood for. I got vague. She moved onto another topic. Phew. Bad mom.) Sophie just doesn’t mind clowns. Which to me is a big thing.
I wouldn’t call my dislike of clowns a phobia. There are way too many other things I’m more afraid of: fish or anything else “from the sea,” heights, small spaces, seeing a train arrive on the tracks. (Really! The whistle bums me out, too.) Balloons popping. The dark. Snakes, lizards, bugs or really reptiles of any kind. Mice, rats, or anything furry that’s smaller than a cat.
OK, I’m not too crazy about cats, either.
The fish thing is probably the only bona fide phobia, and even that I’ve learned to keep somewhat under control. I do live in a house with a large tank of fish. But I would never, ever, under any circumstances, touch one — dead or alive. And a tuna fish sandwich is out of the question.
One thing about having kids: You can never let ’em see you sweat. The other day my mother told the girls she’s allergic to milk. I snorted. She’s not allergic. She’s just terrified of anything creamy. (Except for ice cream and cheese if it’s on pizza.)
But she’s onto something. I’m going to start feigning allergies.
Like to clowns. Or maybe people.
On Saturday, I brought Sophie to a birthday party with one clown and a whole lot of people I didn’t know. We knew just one family aside from the hosts. That worried me a lot more than the clown, frankly. I think I’m pretty good at hiding it, but in general, I’m almost as afraid of people as I am of fish. No one ever believes that. The other day my boss said, “You’re one of those people who can talk to anyone!”
Maybe, but only under great internal duress. Particularly at parties.
“Did Sophie interact much with the other kids?” Ray asked afterward. I mumbled something and thought, “NO, and I didn’t interact much with the other adults!”
That pretty much left the clown. Sophie and I both focused on the clown for the large part of a Saturday afternoon.
Luckily, this was a multi-tasking clown. Sweet Petunia was a pretty good clown, as these things go. She face painted, made balloon animals, performed magic tricks (I’m also a little afraid of magic, but this wasn’t of that calibre), played ring toss games and came with her own music, including the Chicken Dance.
As we were leaving, the hostess let on that another party guest — another adult, in fact, he runs the criminal division of a very large government operation in town — had admitted earlier in the afternoon that he was afraid of clowns.
I wonder if he’s afraid of people, too. Probably. I think most of us are.
Not Sophie. But that’s a problem for another day.