Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Circus

I love the circus. And carnivals and fairs and sideshows and ramshackle little small-town amusement parks.

*Photo by Andrew Dunn. I found it on it here on Wikipedia.

This morning on the way to work, my husband and I passed a brightly painted converted bus. As we came upon it, I saw the words painted across the front in fancy, scrolled lettering: C.M. Circus. Along the side it said, in the same stylish font, Culpepper & Merriweather Circus. Behind it, we saw several other Culpepper & Merriweather trucks and vans and I am absurdly happy about it. They were headed toward the town where I live but, sadly, I doubt that is their destination. C&M is among the higher order of Circuses, what with Miss Simone (the trapeze artist) and the Perez High-Wire Trio and Miss Carolyn and her Dog & Pony Revue and Miss Karina with her high-energy hula hoop act. And camels. They have performing camels. I checked their website to see if they are going to be nearby but there was no tour schedule posted.

In early October nearly three years ago, right before I got married, there was a carnival where I live and I wrote something about it that has just been sitting around unread and when we saw the circus convoy this morning, I was reminded of this. I found it and reread it and that day is vivid in my mind. Funny the things that stay with us.

Except for the addition of a couple of links, I am posting it here in its original form.


I love the fair. And the circus. And the carnival. My fiancé thinks it is just a matter of my roots showing, but I am like a little kid when it comes to the carnival.

There is a traveling carnival in town, in the parking lot of a shopping center here in town this weekend and as I drove by today, they were setting up. I was practically giddy! I stopped and watched them, leaning against a tree then sitting in the grass, for about 15 minutes. It was the highlight of my day.

When I was little, I wanted to be one of two things when I grew up: an astronaut or a trapeze artist. I didn't become either but I am still in love with the circus. I don't know where this fascination comes from but it is apparently ingrained in the fiber of my being. When I first stopped, I was watching the guys set up the Gravitron. This is my favorite carnival ride! Two of the guys working on it were nearly toothless. The third one didn't have a shirt on, but I am certain that the multi-week-old grime build-up protected him from the sun.

As I watched, two people, a man and a woman, came out of the candied apple/cotton candy hut. She was probably six feet tall and had massive, long, tall blonde hair and a Dolly Parton build. She was wearing an outfit that would make Daisy Duke blush and spitting tobacco into a small mason jar…which, amazingly didn’t smudge her hot pink lipstick. He had a bald head and the biggest smile I've ever seen, framed by shiny red cheeks. I can't remember the last time I saw a carnival midget. My heart leapt.

I saw a huge, huge fat woman with thinning purplish-white hair, wearing a tangerine-lemon-lime polyester muumuu feeding some goats and two borderline-malnourished children carrying little glass bowls over to where I can only assume was the soon-to-be-site of the goldfish toss game.

And I saw a man with a lazy eye carrying a spool of cable, walking around as if he was looking for something to do but hoped in his heart that he wouldn't find anything. He had two lit cigarettes hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Both of them were mostly ash at that point, just dangling precariously in front of his weathered face. He looked to be about 40 years old but I could tell by the way he carried himself and by the glint in his good eye that he was probably closer to 25 or 30. He saw me watching then and smiled at me. I nodded, smiled sheepishly and turned away. I don't know why I blushed. I guess, somehow, I felt as if I was seeing something I wasn't supposed to see. I felt like I was eavesdropping.

When I was certain he'd gone on about his business, I sat down on the pavement near my car and watched a little while longer. Two old men were working on the aging Ferris wheel. Securing cables, hammering crossbars, testing connections. They worked steadily, efficiently, silently. The moved around and together like ballerinas performing a solemn ballet.

As I watched, I just started laughing. Gleefully. The giggles just built up inside of me like champagne bubbles. It started in my toes. I had a sense that I was witnessing some sort of backwoods, white-trash Brigadoon.

I probably won't go to that carnival this weekend. I've never been able to convince my fiancé to go to one in the nearly 9 years I've known him and I see no reason that this time will be any different. But I am a happier person tonight because they are there.

To this day, I would join the circus and be a gypsy if I could find a way to do it without sacrificing plumbing, financial security, a law abiding lifestyle and basic hygiene.


Today's Quote:

'Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now." - P.T. Barnum


RC said...

I'm cracking up here! I'm eating Kettle Corn as I'm reading this (that I got from MDSW) and its just verging on stale but its KETTLE CORN!
My grade school had a carnival each year the week of july 4th. It was the highlite of the summer. the music, games and Funnel Cake! Yum!
There are usually a few around here starting about now. I'm sure we will take The Mayor (he loves the rides) I'll send you some pics!

Dorothy said...

We never had carnivals so interesting here. Just a few rides and some cheap games. No sideshow acts or anything like that. The Shriner's Circus would come to a town near us, but we never had the money to go. Someday I will see performing animals and crazy sideshow acts.

EnnaVic said...

Great post :)

I had a high school friend, Reuben, who ran away to join the circus. Well, alright, I do exagerate. After School he trained to be a clown.

Some years later I was walking down Queen Street, the main street in NZ's biggest city Auckland, and went into a department shop that was having some sort of celebration (opening or birthday) when I great lump of a clown plants one on my cheek. It was Reuben. Unfortunately (?) he was working with another clown (female) who didn't know there was any history and played along by smacking a kiss on my other cheek. fine... except clowns do have a lot of red lipstick on. It was some time before I realised as well. *chuckle* In retrospect I suppose the second clown did me a favour by balancing up the look rouged look :)

meg said...

I enjoy the circus & love the fair, but I've never been fond of the carnivals after going on the Zipper with my little brother & getting barfed on :P
I didn't know about the Games in Tuolumne- I'll have to see about the date; we'll be performing at the Livermore Games next weekend, 19 & 20th.

Nora said...

Oh, that was lovely. Thank you. I've secretly wanted to be a gypsy for a while now (there, I've just told the entire internet)!

RC said...

Hi! I tagged you.. go to my blog!