Tuesday, March 4, 2008
That Bootleg Family in "Circus Jerkus"
The email came late last week:
The circus is in town! Do you think we should take Jalen? Let me know.
PS: Are you EVER going to post Jalen's birthday pictures on your blog???
The circus is still alive? Wow, this blows my mind. I've only been once. My brother and I were four – maybe five – as our grandparents took us one year. The only thing I remember from that was a blue flashlight glow-in-the-dark thingie that stopped working the second the show was over.
Damn, carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.
Anyways, I wasn't really feeling the wife's suggestion for a Saturday afternoon.
Our son, Jalen, is a wonderful little boy with the most earnest eyes you'll ever look into, an infectiously scratchy faux-smoker's laugh and a deep, deep appreciation of early episodes of The Simpsons. He's also an uncontrollable force of nature in closed quarters, whose full name becomes "Goddammit, Jalen get back here!" (with apologies to Dr. Bill Cosby, DDS) out in public.
It didn't help that the circus tent was going up in a small San Diego community called Mira Mesa. Anything that's a really big deal in this town is held in one of three places:
Downtown: Petco Park, House of Blues, 4th & B (think House of Blues II)
Mission Valley: Qualcomm Stadium (swap meets, RV shows and that football team I hate, hate, hate)
San Diego Sports Arena: Concerts, exhibition NHL/NBA games and, I'm told, WWE
Mira Mesa, on the other hand, is known for three things:
(1) A large Filipino and Vietnamese population.
(2) Two enormous ethnic supermarkets – one that caters to Filipinos and one that caters to Vietnamese.
(3) The Black Angus and Red Lobster – maybe 50 yards apart on the same lot – for the rest of us.
I was further disheartened by the fact that there were maybe 100 people in attendance for the 4:30 PM show. I knew we were in for a low-budget evening, when I returned to my recycled elementary school seat only to find that all of the kids had been escorted down for some audience participation.
And, for those scoring at home, my 4'8" midget wife was NOT invited down to be mocked and gawked at. C'mon, circus people…she needs a step stool to stir big pots on our stove. She's her own act!
The show eventually began and you can read right here to see what we saw:
The Esquedas Juggling Troupe - I can induce fits of laughter in Jalen simply by attempting to juggle. Obviously, I can't juggle, but dropping the balls and bouncing them off my head sends the boy into stitches. To that end, he was decidedly unimpressed by people who know what they're doing. In fact, he…wait, we have a dropped juggling pin! Jalen was pleased. Then, he laughed some more when another pin was dropped. Then, another…and another. Umm, these guys aren't very good. And, we're only on the first act.
The Torreblanca Clown Family - Much to my dismay, the clowns didn't come out to my favorite clown music of all time. And, I can't help but notice that everyone we've seen so far has been either Black or Hispanic. No doubt the quota system got these guys through Clown College, as their schtick relies mostly on a Chihuahua dressed as a bull, lion, elephant, etc. and the ol' no-pants pratfall. HAW! His boxers have hearts on them! Ugh.
Ted McRae, Snake Whisperer - Unfortunately, Ted couldn't be there, so to appease the dozens in attendance, his snake (an albino python) was trotted out for our amusement. The Ringmaster (who actually looked and talked like me, of all people) threatened to toss the snake into the stands. Oh, no! Here it comes! Here it comes! Here it…oh, he was just fooling us. He had me for a minute there.
Pas de Deux - Literal translation: chick on a horse. So far, the highlight of the evening for me as these skimpy circus outfits were not intended for the ample backsides and voluptuous curves of ethnic women. Seriously, this is like watching one of those Brazilian children's variety shows. I know it's for kids, but(t)…
The Flying Tabares - After intermission, we're treated to the trapeze artists. Not to belabor the point, but the female performers are spending more time trying to pull their awesomely low-cut leotards back up over their boobs. Odd, since their only role appears to be "put right hand on hip, hold left arm out at 45-degree angle, bend at the knee and grin". One of the guys actually falls off the trapeze and audibly cusses on the way down. Ear muffs, Jalen, ear muffs.
The Sky Riders - The grand finale! Take two motorcyclists, put 'em inside one of those American Gladiator "battle balls" and ride! This was the single coolest thing I've ever seen. (Sorry, "toilets at O'Hare Airport that automatically replace their paper seat covers when you stand up"…you'll have to settle for the silver…forever.)
OK, OK…the show wasn't as bad as I'm letting on. In fact, the sh*tty juggling and falling acrobats kind of humanized these freaks and weirdoes. Three hours of cheap entertainment that substituted for any apparent parenting from me and the wife?
Thumbs up in my book.