Clowns for Christ

As a child, I was painfully shy. I walked with my head down, barely spoke above a whisper and hated everything about myself. My mother’s idea of getting me to “open up” was to force me to walk up to perfect strangers and ask them for the time. Decades later, I look back at this and I still don’t understand her strategy. Did she think a 10-year-old would ask someone for the time and then strike up a witty conversation? Or was she just hoping that someone would decide to kidnap me so she didn’t have to worry about this mousy child anymore? Who can resist a felony when it shuffles right up to them at the mall? Sadly, I was so terrified of attracting any attention to myself, that I probably would have thought twice about screaming if I actually was snatched.

Obviously, this brilliant chronological plan wasn’t doing the trick, so my mother looked around for another avenue of humiliation. And then she struck pay dirt: Christian Clown Camp. Could there be a better place to send an 11 year old girl that is scared of her own shadow, hates nature and has never shown an interest in make-up? Apparently not. She signed me up without my knowledge, neglecting to tell me about this adventure until she started PACKING MY SUITCASE.

Early one morning, I was unceremoniously dumped at a camp site several hours from my house, told to “have fun” and then watched as my family car sped away down the dirt road. I was abandoned for a week with total strangers, in the woods, and on top of that, I was supposed to learn how to apply a million layers of face paint in order to go out and tell the world about Jesus. How many drugs were taken to come up with this idea?

Admittedly, I do not have a lot of memories of this week of abject horror. Teenage Clowns in the Woods sounds more like a B rated slasher flick than a wonderful bonding experience, so I must have blocked most of the details from my brain. I remember sitting in a the big cabin, along a long table with mirrors in front of each of us as a camp counselor named Tal (his first name and his initials were the same TAL — I have no idea why I remember this but it is burned into my long term memory) taught us how to apply our religious war paint. What the Crusades failed to do for hundreds of years, we would accomplish with 15 kids in full face spackle. Did I mention this was a co-ed camp? The only thing worse than sending your daughter into this insanity would be to send your son. This does not bode well for his survival on the playground of life.

I also remember sitting in front of the same mirror, using baby wipes to get rid of all that spiritual veneer, when Tal walked up to me and made a sad noise, then said “Oh, too bad, you’re wiping off your pretty face.” He might have been trying to compliment my pious cosmetics, but I heard “Oh, too bad, now we have to see your real face again” and another scar was added to my soul. Thanks, Tal, wherever you are.

*Side note — I know that there was a female counselor there, logically there would have to be, but I have no memory of her. This is what happens when your first name and your initials are not the same, I guess. Poor chick worked hard that summer and I don’t have the faintest flicker of her in my mind because her mother gave her a decent moniker.

Towards the end of the week, we were forced to lather up in full greasepaint, don our clown outfits there were fished out of a large bin and then herded onto a bus to be driven to the local hospital. We were going to be “entertaining” the patients in the children’s ward. We were also probably planting the seeds of night terrors that would last for years. Very few of us had clown related talents, like balloon tying or juggling, most of us wanted to be anywhere but where we were and yet we were stalking through the children’s ward torturing munchkins that were already unlucky enough to be sick and therefore a captive audience.

About 15 minutes into this debacle, the power went out in the entire hospital. Generators kicked on, and non-essential staff — of which we were the poster children — were herded into the cafeteria to sit in the dark and try to stay out of the way. When the power didn’t come on right away, cafeteria workers started to hand out ice cream rather than have it all melt in the freezers. I can’t imagine what we must have looked like…deranged home made clowns in hand-me-down clothes trying to slurp up ice cream without smearing their make up which counselors flitted around to make sure no one was missing. What I wouldn’t pay to have a video of that. Anyway, some time passed, the power stayed out and the decision was made to scrap the day and head back to camp. We piled back onto the bus and headed to our woodsy retreat.

Here’s the best thing: there wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day. There wasn’t lightening or a storm of any sort that could have caused the power to go out and then stay out for that length of time. I’m assuming it was the combined power of all those soul-weary pre-teen Clowns for Christ praying for a release from their version of hell. Add in the dismayed kids that were being “entertained” and we have a brown out. Voila! Miracles.


Harry Potter Hurt My Sole

No, that’s not a typo. Harry Potter has damaged my feet and I am limping around like an old crone, looking for children to cook in my oven.

When I was in Florida, Baby Jesus and The Saint took me to Islands of Adventure so I could completely nerd out at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We rode rides, we ate lunch at Hog’s Head Pub, we checked out Ollivander’s Wand Shop. It was a lovely day spent walking and walking and walking. And in between walking there was much standing. By the end of the day my feet were in agony and I cringed at the thought of each step I had to take. In fact, while at dinner (in Tampa, it was delicious) I had to hobble over to Hooters to buy some flip flops because my feet were so swollen my shoes were cutting off circulation!

Now, weeks later, the pain is still with me and I found out that I have plantar fasciitis in BOTH feet. That’s the inflammation of the membrane between your skin and muscle of your heels, making the first 10 or 15 steps miserable each time you start walking and then just plain old painful after that. I look like I should be yelling at children to get off my lawn or possibly living under a bridge and charging a toll to those that want to cross. I seriously consider how badly I need something before standing up and walking over to get it. And do you want to know what the treatment is? Stretches and exercises that hurt even more, that you are supposed to do until it doesn’t hurt any more. Thank you modern medicine.

To sum up, Harry Potter has been causing me to limp around for weeks, with no end in sight. I am now the proud owner of a pair of Hooter flip flops and I would totally do it again if it meant fulfilling my nerd fantasy of strolling through Hogsmeade and watching people sip on their butterbeer. As a ginger, I may not have a soul, but I definitely have two soles that will never be the same.




Have You Ever…

Have you ever gone into the bathroom at work and thought “I’m not leaving. No one will come to look for me in here, it would be too awkward, and I could just hang out until it’s time to go home. No phone, no computer, no problems.”

Yeah, me neither. That would be weird.

Vacation Antics: Part 2

Before flying down to Florida, I had planned a hair cut — a definitive whacking of about 9 or 10 inches of perfectly good ginger hair. Texts and pictures were sent back and forth between myself and The Saint, the girlfriend of Baby Jesus. It was going to be a girly bonding experience. I am not a girly kind of chick and this was a big deal. But then, The Saint took it farther.

After the successful hair cut, I was fed — which is always a good thing — and then kidnapped by Baby Jesus and The Saint. I may not have been tied up, I did willingly get into the truck, but once we arrived at our destination, I was not allowed to leave. I was held against my will and my forehead was violated. Repeatedly.

I am a red head, as I’ve mentioned before. Of all the issues that comes with, one of the positives is that I never have to worry about my eyebrows. You can’t see them. They are there, they function as they should, but you rarely see them and I never think of them. Apparently, The Saint put quite a lot of thought into those eyebrows and decided that they needed to be ripped out by the roots. And then, as a further insult, dyed.

I was put into a chair and told to slump down, then a strange man wearing entirely too much cologne and gold jewelry loomed over me and used an innocent looking thread to inflict a surprising amount of pain. Does he just run over to the local craft store for this stuff? Or is it special S&M thread that he has to order from a shady website? How does the world’s sewing community feel about their artistic medium being used as a torture device in the name of beauty? And why wasn’t I given a safe word, for God’s sake?

When Mr. Cologne leans back to inspect his work, I lay there slightly sweaty and a little swollen. I’m telling myself to relax, it wasn’t so bad now that the smelly stranger was no longer touching me. It’s over. I can leave. I will heal and this will all be a funny story.

And then I was betrayed. Again. The Saint, who up until now I considered a friend, informed him that the abused eyebrows needed “tinted”. What fresh hell is this? Ever dutiful in his sadistic pursuits, this bejeweled man slathered henna on my brows and then pranced off to oversee his Minions of Maltreatment.

I was slumped there, admitting defeat as Baby Jesus and The Saint chuckled and took pictures. What was I to do? Run screaming from my captors into the great unknown with a reddened forehead and some medieval dye on my poor brow nubs? Nope. Just sit there, wait this out and plot revenge.

When time was up, the henna was wiped off and I was sat up to admire the transformation. Admiration was not my first thought. I looked like Gargamel — the bad guy from the Smurfs. I couldn’t keep my cool any longer and just said NO as loudly as possible. If I had a rape whistle, I would have been blowing that thing until my lips went numb. A person can’t be expected to go from invisible brows to dark ones in a matter of moments and just adjust. That’s not the way the human psyche works. The Saint finally figured out a happy medium, realized she now had a very angry ginger on her hands — I am assuming my newly darkened eyebrows just enhanced the scowl on my freckled face — and ushered me out of the Temple of Torment.

No, the pain was not exceptional, I will survive. I am not a huge wimp. But the damage to my spirit may be irreparable.


Vacation Antics: Part 1

I got the airport 3 hours before my flight through no fault of my own. That’s when my ride could drop me off and I went with it. Being the good American that I am, I checked my baggage and went directly to be stripped and scanned.

I waited in an endless line, telling myself that this is the price we pay to keep the public safe (and reading a book while standing up, of course). When it was my turn, I diligently placed my belongings, including shoes, in a bin and sent it down the conveyor belt, then stepped up to the Jetson-looking X ray machine. Stand on the yellow footprints, hands up, scan… And then I get pulled aside. This is nothing new to me, I am so vanilla looking that I am “randomly” chosen quite often. My theory is that they know they won’t find anything and therefore will have less paperwork at the end of their shift. I can be a simple tally mark and they can go on about their business.

But this time, I was in for a surprise. I was informed that the scan was unable to see if I had anything hidden in my HAIR and they needed to check my HEAD. I know I have thick hair, but this was laughable. It was up in a messy bun because I’m not here to impress you, people, I’m here to get airborne. So a female TSA officer, wearing latex gloves, stood in front of me and gently fondled my head, running her hands through my hair. I had to literally bite my tongue to keep from laughing and the whole time all that ran through my head was “If she makes eye contact, this is officially sexual harassment.” No eye contact was made, although I was left with the feeling that I should tip her.



The Friendly Skies

I was recently on a plane, heading to a much needed vacation and visit with Baby Jesus. Next to me was a nice older gentleman that kindly kept to his own seat, didn’t hog the arm rest and did not try to make idle chit chat. But, when forced into a confined space for several hours and literally sharing the same air, some conversation naturally ensues. He was flying to visit his daughter and her family, his wife was already there. He said he was retired and his daughter wanted him to move there. Naturally, I asked what he did before retiring. He said he was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I was impressed. I told him that I had been a journalism major for about a minute before transferring colleges, then switched to the all encompassing English as a major since Journalism wasn’t offered. He nodded and said he wished he would have taken more English classes to learn how to actually write.

Stranger on the plane: “There is actually a big difference between reporting and writing.”

Me: “Of course there is. One has adjectives and the other doesn’t.”

The stranger’s face lit up and he actually guffawed. That’s me, providing nerdy entertainment even at a cruising altitude. You are welcome, my friend.

Evolution Failure

I am not Nature Girl. I tend to avoid sun exposure because of my red hair and fair skin, and then avoid anything that makes me sweat because I’m ultimately lazy. But recently I have gotten a little lesson on birds.

A pair of killdeer have made a nest in the driveway at the Handsome Hermit’s compound. Four speckled eggs are sitting in a small depression, surrounded by rocks and about 6 blades of grass. Have you heard about these idiotic birds? Not only do they make their nest on the ground, among rocks, but their idea of protecting their unborn is to run away from the nest and act like it has a broken wing. Has evolution completely overlooked this bird? How do they manage continue their existence on this earth?

Always one to cheer for the underdog, I’ve become fascinated by these dumb birds. I’ve named them Shirley and Vern and go out to check on them at least once a day. Vern is very vocal and likes to yell at me when I come within his range of vision. Shirley is the drama queen that does the broken wing act and it never fails to make me laugh. I have no idea how long it takes for those eggs to hatch, but I have a hobby until that happens. I’ve already picked out their baby names: Eenie, Meenie, Minee and Moe.