Trauma Llama submissions have slowed down. Frankly I’m shocked it took this long. Everyone has been amazing with all their tales of woe.
So this week you’re stuck with me. I present a few different traumas I’m entitling “The perils of being a girl clown.” Hopefully you’ll get at least some amusement out of how lame I was in high school.
Here it is:
As you may or may not know, I was a teenaged clown.
Background to understand today’s Trauma Llama:
My high school offered a class called “Theater Productions” in which students created “characters” (read: clowns) and then put on a production at the end. This sought after class counted as an English elective and was limited to seniors. However, sophomores could submit an essay to the teacher for an opportunity to take it as a junior. Five would win spots. Two of those five would go on to student teach their senior year.
Guess who got picked twice?
Today’s Trauma Llama tales come from my second year with the troupe. I’d rebranded myself from “Ishtar” the gypsy clown (the exceedingly scary gypsy clown) to the far more kid-friendly “Balloons”. I made my costume from scratch using Halloween patterns, pretty hot air balloon fabric, mod-podged glitter tennis shoes and purple yarn sewed onto a fabric skull cap for a wig. Yeah, I was all crafty and shit back then. I even went full out with fake eyelashes and the big red nose.
I’m the one in the middle. Wasn’t I cute?
YES. I was. Don’t hate on clowns, yo.
So a little more background. I was a sheltered child. I didn’t know much about sex, males, or how the world actually worked. I was a complete nerd and not terribly attractive. I didn’t really date in high school. Mostly because I didn’t recognize flirting as flirting (remember, I was sheltered?).
These perils are through the eyes of sheltered Anya.
Peril #1 – Vehicles Abruptly Stopping
Clowns in groups slow traffic. It’s a fact. And a bevy of clowns in the back of a pick-up truck? That turns heads.
Two of my fellow clowns and I were hauling scenery into the city talent show at dusk one night (in fact it’s the same two in the photo above AND we were hauling that crap).
Two yahoos slowed down to a crawl on the busy street, rolled their windows down and yelled, “Hey, CLOWN! Wanna have some fun?”
To which I cheerfully replied, “I’m already having fun!” (so many missed opportunities for hijinks) Some horn honking got them going finally after a bit more heckling that I don’t recall.
Now a girl clown walking on the sidewalk alone?
This literally stops traffic.
I was coming back from a flea market event I’d been asked to do meet and greet at. I cheerfully marched my sparkly shoes along the sidewalk on the way home on that beautiful Saturday afternoon.
A pick-up in the opposite lane stopped parallel. “Hey, CLOWN! Where are you going?”
I glanced over. He wasn’t bad looking. Not young but probably not much older than forty. “Home,” I replied. (Gosh, I’m hitting myself for these pathetic retorts).
“Want to go dancing?”
I don’t remember what I replied. I recall blushing. I probably stammered that I was busy. A car came up behind him and he thankfully drove off. But I recall wondering what he’d have done if I’d said yes. I also recall wondering if this was normal behavior for males. Do they often invite strange females to dance? (Keep in mind, under full clown white there is no way to tell how old a person is or what they look like.)
Peril #2 – Bodily Harm
A little more back-story. Any female who has ever worn fake eyelashes can probably identify with this next section. There’s a substance called “Spirit Gum”. It’s a theater product used for gluing things to skin like prosthetics, wigs, and fake beards. Clowns use it to affix the red foam nose over their own nose. I used it for this and also for my fake eyelashes. It’s very adhesive.
Children often screamed, “Hey, CLOWN!” Rushed over and then promptly asked, “Is that real?” Their stubby little fingers jabbed up at my face. They were always looking for the flaw in the illusion.
“My nose?” I evaded, pushing the foam in and releasing it.
Displeased with my evasion, they grabbed at the foam. And tugged.
Spirit glue had that sucker on there so tight that when they tugged, they threatened to peel the skin from my face. Needless to say it didn’t feel great.
We also did several visits to nursing homes. Two old ladies plotted to braid my eyelashes. I barely got out with my eyelids intact 😉
There was quite a bit of groping at the nursing home—resident to clown groping. More so the guy clowns than the gals. But I had my fair share of grabby hands. There’s something about people in costume that gets the old ladies going!
Peril #3 – Strange Requests
And the final peril in today’s tale. The Crimson Clowns had finished our performance on First Night. My friends and I decided to watch the midnight fireworks from the sole parking garage. Because it was going to take me too long to wipe off all my make-up, I chose to go out in full costume (I was the only one).
As was usual for a trip out in full costume, several kids pointed at me, screaming, “CLOWN!” I, of course, waved and mugged back like a good little clown girl.
And then we reached the parking garage.
“Hey, CLOWN,” a male voice called from the shadows to my right.
I looked over because I was the only clown around. There was a trio of guys, probably in their early twenties. They didn’t look particularly frightening. The speaker leaned against a brick wall with his hands in the pockets of his winter jacket.
He waited until I was a few feet closer before asking, “Can you do balloon animals?”
“Yes,” I replied, far too eagerly.
Without missing a beat, the guy retorted, “Can you tie my dick in the shape of a dog?”
My jaw dropped. My skin went beet red underneath my clown white. And I immediately ducked behind my larger guy friend. I was scarred for life (or at least until I stopped being such a prude).
Looking back now I see what a stupendous opportunity I missed. Anya of today would have brazen walked over simply to see if the guy would follow through with his taunt (at least I would have if it had been in safe, wholesome Concord, NH). And since all white-faced clowns wear gloves to continue the illusion, who knows where it would have gone from there 😉
Do you have a Trauma Llama story you’d like to share? Prod me on Twitter or e-mail me anya at anyabreton.com 🙂