I almost ran away with the circus when I was 15.
I was an usher during a run of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and was chatted up by a nice young German clown named Hans every time I was there. I had a big crush on Hans and an equal love of clowning.
I didn’t run away then, but when I was in Fort Worth, Texas, visiting relatives, I was bored and when I heard the circus was in town there, well it seemed like fate.
I was counting my money, wondering if I had enough for cab fare to the venue when I figured they might not welcome a young runaway.
I bided my time.
Probably the worst day of my mother’s life was when I strolled into the kitchen and told her I wanted to go to Clown College in Florida.
Horrified doesn’t even begin to describe that poor woman’s face. Her darling, highly intelligent daughter wanted to leave her snug home and run away to a life of greasepaint, shenanigans and a nomadic lifestyle so alien to her she couldn’t begin to imagine it.
She said “No,” so firmly I believed her the first time and never asked again.
I did get to clown around though.
In high school, our drama department formed a clown troupe and I was one of the first to apply. My act involved an invisible dog led around on a leash stiffened by a coat hanger and a stiff leather collar. I had a plastic bone and a hula hoop and my face makeup already set.
I got in. I spent weekends and summers entertaining children, fellow high school students and senior citizens and got to thoroughly embarrass my mom at the same time.
The day my oldest brother got married, I picked up my mother and my favorite aunt (who dared me to do it) at a beauty shop in full clown regalia. My aunt and everyone else was hysterically laughing and asking who I was and my mother, shaking her head, was repeating over and over, “It’s my daughter.” And “Sandra Lynn Davis, that makeup will never come off in time for the wedding.”
My youngest brother, and his son too, wore clown makeup for Halloween, however my brother turned his from a circus clown to a rodeo clown, and it worked for him.
I haven’t put on my clown face for years now, but between the creepiest clown ever on “American Horror Story” and it being Halloween, I can’t help but remember those days.