Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chapter 21 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free- Spirit Professional

photo courtesy of www.clownpictures.org

Erin was an expert handler, walking me through the party, yelling commands like, “Birthday girl on your left,” and “Family dog near your feet,” as I danced around and waved for 45 minutes. Most of the children loved it, reaching out, touching my leg, grabbing my hand and poking at my stomach.

I couldn’t see a thing because Elmos’ eyes came up to my neck and all I kept thinking of was the kid who got stepped on as I peered down my nose, trying to get a look through Elmo’s eyes. It was strange being in that costume – the center of attention and so removed from it all. And Violet was right; It was CRAZY hot! By the time we were finished, I was soaked with sweat and could feel the heat permeating through Elmo’s head.

Erin kept checking to see if I was okay, but the problem was, she couldn’t really hear me. So, when I told her I needed to sit down, she responded with, “Let’s do a little Ring Around the Rosy.”

After the third time, I squeezed her hand really hard and practically screamed, “It’s too hot in here!”

“Everybody wave bye-bye to Elmo,” she sang, leading me quickly back to the kitchen. Erin was no bouncer, but she sure knew how to get me out of there quickly.

Once in the kitchen, I clawed at the clasps holding Elmo’s head on the jumpsuit like a claustrophobic astronaut. I was so hot, I couldn’t see straight and all I wanted was out of that damn head.

“I got it,” Erin soothed as she unhooked the clasps and lifted the head up and over mine.

“Ahhhhhhh,” I sighed.

“Drink this,” she said, handing me a fresh bottle of water.

As my body temperature began to recalibrate itself, I leaned against the kitchen counter and simply said, “Whoa.”

Erin laughed with a tinge of bitterness. “Why do you think I’m a handler? I couldn’t deal with all that shit.”

I nodded my head and wondered if I too, would end up being a handler after this party was over.

“That was GREAT!” the Mom squealed, bursting into the kitchen. “Afton looooooved it!”

“Awesome!” Erin said and though I barely knew her, I was beginning to see just how much she hated her job.

“We’re going to do cake and then we’ll be ready for Olivia the Clown!”

Ugh. I thought and almost said aloud. Why did I agree to be a clown?

Once Mom was gone, Erin leaned in close. “And whatever you do, don’t agree to be a clown again. It’s awful.”

Back in the bathroom, already exhausted from my sweaty Elmo experience, I smeared clown make-up on my face and felt suddenly depressed. What the hell was I doing? I wasn’t an actor! I was a singer and clowns don’t sing. In fact, I hated clowns; they were so……creepy.

But there was no going back. At least, not that day; I had balloon animals to make and little kids to entertain.

Another knock at the door from Erin, as I slid the red, clown wig onto my head.

“Okay,” I yelled, weakly.

Standing in front of the mirror, I was taken aback by how much I looked like a clown. I was creeping myself out! I looked at the clock on my cell phone, sitting on the vanity and whispered to myself, “45 minutes. That’s all. After that girl, you’ll never have to do this again.”

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