Monday, September 21, 2009

Rednecks, elephants and circus mobsters

Remember going to the circus as a kid? Remember the sparkling lights and the brightly painted clowns and the beautiful, sequined lady who jumped from the back of one horse to another as they pranced in circles? Remember the trapezists floating so high in the air you thought they could really fly? Remember the brave lion tamer coaxing the big cats to stand up and leap through hoops of fire and how even the enormous elephants seemed to move with grace? Remember the scent of popcorn and cotton candy and all of the colors and laughter and how everything just seemed magical? Well, I went to the circus yesterday and it was nothing like that. Not. Even. Close.

I’ve noticed advertisements for the circus coming to town the last few years. They’ve never been very big advertisements though, and I’ve learned that, aside from Disneyland, very few things are as special and magical as I remember as a child. Then J and I saw a coupon for the circus this weekend and for some reason it sounded like a really excellent idea, something different from our usual Central Oregon weekends of walking the river trail and trying to soak up what remains of the fading summer warmth.

What a joke. It’s called Circus Gatti and their website calls them a “traditional 3 ring circus.” Granted, there were three “rings” and a “ringmaster” but that’s about where the similarities end. Remember the big top? There were no tents of any kind. Everything was set up out in the dirt where they do the rodeo during the county fair. No fancy spot lights, just the afternoon sun. It was hard to know what I was supposed to be looking at. Something actually going on in one of the rings or the trucks and trailers sitting back in the field? Or maybe all the activity going on under the one curtain set up in the middle. Really, none of it was that interesting anyway.

And the show itself? There was a single clown and he wasn’t even wearing makeup. So basically, he was just some bozo in a really bad outfit acting like he was mute. There was no trapeze. There were a couple of rings hanging from some rope that two women sort of spun around on and hung upside down from. It was no Cirque du Soleil, that’s for sure. A couple of guys wobbled up some rope to what I assume was the tight rope. One of them wasn’t too bad, he did some little hops and fancy steps, but nothing that took my breath away. The other guy was a little chubby and fell a couple of times. Not to the ground, which would have pretty much made my day, instead he ended up catching himself and trying to save face while he wiped his sweaty face with the sleeve of his shirt. Greasy. Gross.

The animals were most disappointing. There were some miniature horses that were cute but underwhelming and looked more bored with themselves than I was. The dogs were pretty cute, but I always think dogs are cute. Seriously, all my dogs have to do is open their eyes in the morning and I think they’re the greatest things in the entire world. I’m secretly amused by their farts and burps (except for the really smelly ones, but those are the silent ones anyway. Silent but deadly. I think it’s their motto.). These circus dogs were more talented than my shedding angels. They jumped over little hurdles and each other! They danced a conga line! They rode a pony! The itsy bitsy, teeny weeny Chihuahua climbed a ladder and leaped a good three feet into the trainer’s arms! Oh, yes. There is nothing left for Cesar Millan to teach these canines.

I thought all of these embarrassing little acts were leading to something. Something Big. Like a Lion. Or a Tiger. Or a Bear. Oh, my! Nope. Not even a monkey. The only big animals were the poor elephants that shuffled in sadly only to be ridden by dozens of bratty little kids who behaved worse than monkeys. Really, it was quite the scene of animal cruelty. I had to keep the tears at bay by imagining the elephant losing her freaking mind and running around stomping obnoxious children and trampling their stupid inbred parents before running off into the sunset. Seriously, nothing would have given me more joy at that moment.

Let’s not forget the music! It was like being at a really bad nightclub. Except for the slow songs that sounded like really bad porn. You know, the kind that tries to be romantic as the camera zooms in on untamed 70’s bush? Yes. It was that bad. The juggler at least tried. Sort of. If by trying you think it makes sense to throw flashy silver pins and balls to techno music, then he completely outdid himself.

This circus was totally ghetto. I didn’t want to run away with it, I wanted to run away FROM it.

Now we come to the crowd that this craptastic spectacle drew. This is where we find the real entertainment. It was an extravaganza of redneck marvels, an endless parade of white trash surprise, literally a feast for the eyes! I don’t know if I can do these people justice, but I’ll try.

We’ll start with Toothless Grandma. Her face looked like one of those shrunken apple heads they sell at craft fairs. Her outfit was simply stunning – black shirt, black pants, black high-top Reeboks all tied together with a gold lamè belt. She further accessorized this haute couture with – please stop to picture and appreciate this fully – not ONLY her key ring hanging from a belt loop, but a HOT PINK Bic lighter hanging RIGHT NEXT to it!! I really didn’t think it could get more fantastic than this, but she did it. The toothless wonder bought AND ate a plate of nachos. Nachos, people! Yes sir, she gummed those babies right before my very eyes.

Next, we come to Chester the Molester. In the living flesh. Baggy Wranglers covering his scrawny ass, long sleeved, oversized brown shirt most likely hiding all the candy he uses to lure his innocent little victims, and sporting stringy, greasy hair with the crème de la crème – a side part pattern of baldness. Yes, the part in his hair was balding and it was nicely sunburned. I watched him follow the screaming little brats as they formed the line for the elephant ride, obviously trying to pick the weakest one apart from the rest of the pack. Just creepy. Super creepy. Luckily, as far as I could tell, Chester’s attempts were thwarted that day. He probably needs a better disguise because, really, the hair was a dead giveaway.

As always, we had the big girls squeezing into too-tight jeans, proudly putting their ginormous mushroom tops on display. There was the female-looking person in a short skirt trying to walk in heels she obviously had never worn before. I wanted to ask her if she’d pooped her pants or really didn’t know how to walk in her shoes, because I couldn’t decide which it was. My favorite outfit may have been the half jeans/half skirt that was obviously hand made. The makeup didn’t disappoint either - teal eye shadow by the pound, brown lip liner with pink lip gloss, fake eyelashes with glitter. Glitter, people! In the middle of the afternoon!! In broad daylight!!

I saw more beer bellies than I could count. One gentleman, I kid you not, sat with his big gut hanging down so far it was resting on the bleacher below him. One of these redneck idiots volunteered to be a victim of the clown. The mute asshole had this loser hopping around trying to do the moon walk or running man or something. I don’t know, I couldn’t really see past his jiggling middle. It’s truly a wonder how some of these people hold themselves upright.

I’m sure I missed a ton of the other glorious exhibitions, but I was starting to lose my sight and had to leave. There’s only so much redneck splendor a normal person can take in one day and I had reached my limit.

I’m sure the circus will be back in town again next year for those of you just dying to see it. After all, the skeezy performers/mob rejects have to make money to buy their drugs and not feed their animals with somehow. Hey, it’s your choice. But you’ve been warned.
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