Monday, September 30, 2019

WHEN YOU DON'T THINK THINGS THROUGH


Got nothing so this is a rerun from June 2009. 


I started my last year and a half of high school in Sarasota Florida which was the winter home for the Ringling Brother's Circus though by the time I got there, they had mostly moved to Venice Florida just south of us. It was cool to sit in class with a kid whose Dad was shot out of a cannon for a living.

The school took advantage of the fact that we had many kids from second and third generation circus families. Each year, the school put on a big top show known as the Sailor Circus. It was billed as The Greatest "Little" Show on Earth. It is still put on each year and you can learn about it here .

What an exciting thing to have at your school.  We had no animals which was a plus but it featured all the events from trapeze, high wire, Spanish web, tumbling, juggling and of course the clowns. Not only the sons and daughters in the business performed but anyone who wanted to learn was given an opportunity. Many were novices like me.

Few kids have not been taken in by the glamour of the circus. There is just a certain romance about performing amazing feats to thrill the crowds and traveling around the country. Well this circus didn't travel but it was as big here as any of the sports programs. 


Besides the glamour, scholarships were available to  Florida State University which also has a circus program. I was the new girl once again and was totally captivated by a possible circus career at least as a means for a scholarship.

I thought about it a lot and decided high wire was my niche. Wearing a dainty tutu as I bravely crossed the wire seemed very appealing. So I signed up and started rigorous training.

The wire is not really a wire but a hefty cable. The training wire was only three feet off the ground. We wore ballet like slippers, kept our bodies straight, looked at the end of the rope and let our arms seek balance. Coach said that balance would come, that our bodies would learn and he was right. Every day after school I practiced till supper time. At home, I had a tape on my floor that I walked heel to toe back and forth. I definitely wasn't scholarship worthy but I was learning.

Eventually, I could drop to the wire on my butt and bounce back up to my feet. That was my only "trick." Then the "you know what" hit the fan. Coach said,"Well I guess it is time for you to move to the high wire."

Duh, what had I been thinking. I could not do it. I couldn't even climb the ladder. I was land locked with unshakable fear.   Somehow couldn't convince Coach that a performance on a wire three feet off the ground would impress anyone.


My dreams of the pink tutu and my daintily prancing across the wire with a pretty umbrella died. The only saving grace out of the whole thing is that I had told no one, not even my family what I was doing for it was to be a big surprise. My little speech was all planned. "Oh by the way--if you aren't doing anything Saturday night--I will be walking the high wire at the Sailor Circus." Never got to say that. For a while, I was pretty crushed.

Coach was almost as sorry as I was for he had put a lot of time in on me. He was kicking himself for not asking if I had any serious phobias or at least seeing if I could climb a ladder. To save something from the situation, he asked if I wanted to be a clown. Hum, wonder if he was trying to tell me something? By now I had the sawdust in my veins so I agreed. Anything to be part of the circus.

My clown character was a crowd roamer and teaser. I was to throw buckets of confetti on people and pull coins out of kids ears. I learned the painless pratfall and fake trip in my big feet. Truthfully, I felt a little silly practicing these feats on imaginary people or fellow clown want to be's. However when the big night came and I got in full costume with face paint, fake nose and hair, baggy clothes and big shoes, I discovered I was a born clown.

I loved it. My outrageous side sprang loose and I was a new person. There is something about being in disguise that lets the inner child out. No one really knows who you are so you can be totally ridiculous. I had found my niche.

Tightrope walker has a romantic image but clowns have more fun. A walker's thrill lasts minutes where a clown entertains all night. Much better choice.


If you ever get a chance to slap on the grease paint, go for it. There might be another you, in you, begging to come out.


Did you ever overreach?

35 comments :

  1. This is a great story, definitely worth a repeat. I have not made it to a Sailor Circus yet. We have Circus Smirkus here in VT, which is a summer camp/circus training camp for kids. I've taken my grandkids to a few of their shows -- great fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olga,
      Do it if you get chance. It is great. I looked up the Circus Smirkus and it is really similar in what the kids are taught.

      Delete
  2. I think it's wonderful that you learned what being a clown is really like. What fun! And no, I never wanted to walk a high wire, and I never wanted to run away to the circus! Glad you did, though, and wrote such a great post about it. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Djan,
      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed. Being a clown was really fun and I am kind of glad I didn't make the tutu set.

      Delete
  3. Oh what a fun experience to grow up in circus country! I love it. Didn't know about their scholarships.

    I was accepted into the Ringling Brother's Art School and I backed out of going at the last minute. Always regretted that.

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    Replies
    1. Jean,
      The scholarships surprised me also. Florida State has quite a program.
      You really should feel proud of being accepted at the Ringling Brothers Art School. It is highly ranked.

      Delete
  4. Definitely a fun experience! Though I was thinking as I read the high wire was I could never do that as I'm terrified of heights.
    My over reach was deciding I could try to the zipline on a cruise ship. Got all suited up, stepped up to the platform, took one look down and had a melt down. Not pretty when you're 55 years old.
    I did drama in high school and even flirted with the idea of pursuing a degree in theatre, but parents didn't approve. I recall being on stage and enjoying being someone else. I'd be a clown in a heart beat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eileen,
      I found out I was terrified of heights also. I feel your pain at being on the platform and panicking. I know I would have too.
      Isn't it great to just be someone else for a while. It is so freeing.

      Delete
  5. I would be nervous at 3 feet off the ground, I don;t like leaning against a window in a high-rise.

    When I was a kid I loved clowns, now sometimes they creep me out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. joeh,
      I don't even like to look up at a high rise. Don't know what I was thinking.
      I think the bad rap clowns get is all the villains they have played in movies. I mean really creep villains. They scare me a little now also:))

      Delete
  6. I love that story. And, boy, do I admire you for giving it your all. That's all anyone can do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Latane,
      Thank you. I got that out of my system and I don't have to add high wire to my wish list and I can scratch clown off.

      Delete
  7. I was oftentimes dubbed class clown in school...but I'm sure I could never 'fill YOUR shoes'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annie,
      Class clowns made school fun. Now clown shoes are hard to fill anyway. They are huge.

      Delete
  8. You win a prize for your guts! So much entertainment. What did your family say?

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    Replies
    1. Susan,
      Not so sure it was guts since I couldn't climb the ladder. Maybe over confidence.

      Delete
  9. Oh, what fun! I was called the class clown in grade school--without a red nose or big shoes--LOL! Sounds like fun! :)

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    Replies
    1. Rita,
      Just think how you could have scored with he red nose and big shoes. Not too late.

      Delete
  10. As you were describing being on the wire I thought, "wow, I could never do that"... and then you got to the part where you realized it was going to be up high and I understood perfectly … any thing up high scares the (blank) out of me !
    Putting a red rubber ball on my nose is the most
    clown-like I've ever been !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ginnie,
      Sure wish I'd had your first thought before I pranced about 3 feet off the ground. Like you, I am paralyzed when subjected to any type of heights. Still don't know what I was thinking.

      Delete
  11. Another great story! You have a million of them. You are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda,
      Thank you so much for the great compliment. I do have to dig in the archives to find them though. I told most of them in the beginning.

      Delete
  12. You were far more brave than I would have been. Want to let you know that I am no longer blogging...events in my life had brought many changes. I am doing okay just no longer interested in having a blog or blogs. I will continue to read yours, I will certainly need my Patti blog fix. lol Hugs sweet Patti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie,
      I thought you were just taking a break but not quitting. I will really miss your posts and hope you do stop by here now and then. So glad it is your choice and not anything serious.

      Delete
  13. I agree with Linda. You are amazing, Patti. I just wish you lived next door to me. I'd be over at your house all the time listening to your stories. Good gosh! High wire? And I BET you were the best loved clown of all time.

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    1. Kay,
      Thank you so much. I will tell stories for coffee. As for best loved that is questionable but I certainly had the most fun.

      Delete
  14. Overreach? Ha Ha. I'm a classic underachiever. I give up almost before I try things. This springs from a childhood of not being allowed to try anything that might cost money. I might want to do things, but if the was equipment or a uniform involved that had to be paid for, then forget it. My dad was of the firm opinion that if "they" wanted me then "they" should pay for whatever was needed. it was just as well I preferred to stay home reading or run around the beach all summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River,
      My family was similar only they said if I wanted something I had to earn the money myself. Hey, reading and beaching are great things to do. I did a lot of that myself.

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. Mage,
      Not always. You certainly didn't overreach in art or photography.

      Delete
  16. I hope you kept the great sense of balance that you learned even if you never went up high. I can't even imagine wanting to be a high rope entertainer! Even a clown is a stretch for me. I think I need some of your chutzpah!

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    1. Barb,
      Ha,ha Today I can barely stand on one foot without falling over and probably couldn't take a pratfall with out breaking something.

      Delete
  17. Dear Patti, as I have written before, you are a born storyteller AND you have had such an extraordinary life. You've done so much. Despite the fact that ultimately, you couldn't climb that ladder, I think you are fearless and you look for and find the good in everything. That is a true gift! Peace.

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    Replies
    1. Dee,
      Thank you so much. I really use to be game for anything. Today I am a bunch more cautious.

      Delete
  18. Grrrrreat story!!!!!!

    What a wonderful memory!

    And you learned a good lesson. Even when we seem to fail at something, it can still have a good outcome, and a great learning experience.

    🍂🍁🎃🍁🍂

    ReplyDelete

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