Writer considers career move, assesses qualifications for the circus

Categorized as 09/14/09 Goshen News column

It’s called being proactive. This year, I’m going to be ready for ‘em when they hit. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Yes, the midwinter jickers (to use a Seuss-ism) that descend along about February.

These tend to show up and hammer a person after the warmth and glow of the holidays have passed. At that point, you’re about 18 months into winter with another 9 to go. You’re bored and restless, just ripe for some excitement, so you think, “Hey, a new job might be just the ticket.” Which is exactly why last winter found me Googling “zoo keeping,” and I found, to my chagrin, that I was one.

With that idea going bust, I’m looking elsewhere. This time, I’m getting my inspiration from the characters in our great American literature who, we are told, “ran off and joined the circus.” I have a sneaking suspicion there just may be something here for me. Hence, in order to update my resume, I’m taking a closer look at my qualifications.

First of all, a circus needs a ringmaster. This is the person who makes announcements, directs traffic, and keeps the show running on schedule, all with a certain dramatic flair.

Well, now. That sounds like our kitchen on a school morning. I’m great at making announcements like, “Bus in ten!” The flair gets really dramatic when I actually hear the bus and see that one of the performers is still sockless. Ringmaster – check.

Naturally, every circus has clowns. You either have to be one or know how to work with them. I’m completely unfamiliar with the former, but am entirely familiar with the latter. I know their kind. In fact, I assist in supervising a very credible version of the old “53 clowns spilling out of a VW” trick. It happens every Sunday in the church parking lot. So, clown handler – check.

Now, how about the lion tamer position? This requires nerves of steel and the ability to tame savage beasts. Just because I don’t use a whip, a chair, or a pistol that shoots blanks doesn’t mean I can’t get the job done. My secret weapon goes like this, “If you don’t stop right now, you will get no dessert.” Works every single time. Lion tamer – check.

Moving on, I see that any circus worth its salt includes exciting stunts and tricks. I have a working knowledge of that side of the business, believe me. In fact, earlier this summer, a big stunt went down over here when those goofy toy handcuffs reappeared, wreaking havoc for a day.

Honestly. When one performer is busy cuffing his brother to the bed post, the door knob, the stove handle, the fridge door, and the steering wheel of the parked mower, then none of my work is getting done, is it, now? This prompted some wailing to their father along the lines of, “Do you know what stunt your kids pulled today?” Which, of course, was followed by confiscation of the cuffs.

Stunts? Big check.

Every circus, if it’s a good one, has some growly bears. I know a bit about those, too. When you have a couple of them under your roof every morning, you learn how to handle them. You learn, for instance, that they need their space. It’s best to just push their breakfast over to them with a long pole.

You don’t try to engage them in conversation, either. They’re not awake yet. Further, any attempts to coax them into a little pink skirt so they can trot along on top of a ball is a disaster. Lesson learned.

Yup, bear wrangler – check.

Another job opening I see is for a cotton candy/peanut seller. These are the brave souls that roam the stands, hawking their wares. From what I can see, you need the agility of an antelope and the fierceness of a wild boar to keep from being flattened by a hungry little mob.

Funny. This is pretty much what happens when the chocolate chip cookies come out of the oven. Peanut seller? Check.

Unfortunately, I have no future as a bearded lady, but I think I’d make a pretty good roustabout. According to one website I found, a roustabout does the behind-the-scenes work like putting up tents, driving buses, and feeding the performers. I have a hunch they’re also the pooper scoopers, which is some real “behind the scenes” work, if you know what I mean. After being responsible for four little colons in my lifetime, I believe I’m qualified for this job.

In fact, I may be over qualified. I can juggle and jump through hoops, and six days out of seven, I’m a human cannonball when the alarm clock goes. Surely there’s a spot for me under the big top.

If not, I’ve got Plan C in place. After I lamented the unnerving discovery of a mustard-drenched beach towel and dishcloth in the laundry pile to my Facebook friends, one of them commented, “Why your life hasn’t been made into a sitcom is one of the great mysteries of the world.”

There you have it. Move over, Brady Bunch. Hollywood, here we come.

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