Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 22 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free- Spirit Professional

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Being a clown sucked.  First off, there was no big head in which to hide.  I was out there for all to see, talking in a high-pitched, nasally voice doing my best to sound like a clown.  What the hell does a clown sound like anyway?  I should’ve done my homework and studied clown-speak, and clown-walk because in the first two minutes, it became very clear that I didn’t know what I was doing.

Nobody else noticed, of course.  Part of me wanted them to.  I wished Mom would put a stop to the madness and call me out.  “You’re a FRAUD!”  I wanted her to scream; snatching the balloons from me and sending me on my way.  But she didn’t.  All she did was clap her hands together with delight each time I let out a long, mouth-breathing laugh that sounded like a cross between the witch from The Wizard of Oz who gets crushed by a house and a buck-toothed, donkey riding down a hill on a bicycle with no brakes. 

It was exhausting – running around, trying to engage a bunch of four to seven year-olds who mostly wanted kick me and pull at my wig. 

“Ba-woons!  Ba-woons!” the birthday girl whined and I had to catch myself from giving her a dirty look.

According to the clock on the wall, I still had 25 minutes left to go.  Balloon animals were supposed to be the big finish; and at an estimated rate of fifteen minutes, I still had ten more to kill before getting to it.  Ten minutes may seem like nothing in real life, but when you’re dancing around like an idiot in a clown suit, it was an eternity.

“Why don’t we see if Olivia the clown is ready to make some balloon animals?” Mom said in that scary, sweet, persuasive voice only Mom’s knew how to conjure up.

Bitch.   It was my show.  I was in charge and the damn balloons weren’t supposed to come out just yet.  I wished Erin were still there, but handlers only stayed for the costumed character portion of the party.  I hated her too.  In fact, I hated them all; especially the little ones chanting in unison, “Ba-woons!  Ba-woons!” 

I finally knew why clowns were so creepy.  They were haters dressed up as happy, carefree people. 

I had no choice but to get to the balloon animals.  I sat down doing my best impression of jovial and within thirty seconds, the living room was filled with close to fifteen kids.  My hands were sweating and as I blew up the first skinny balloon, I began to panic.

Violet had taught me to make four different variations; a sword, a purse, a parrot and a poodle.  The trouble was, my nerves were messing with my head.  I couldn’t remember anything except how to make a sword.  I couldn’t just make swords for everyone! 

It was a disaster.  I did my best to make other things, but in the end, everything looked like a sword with a pimple.

“That doesn’t look like a poodle,” said one of the youngsters.

I just nodded and smiled muttering in my head something like, “It’s not, kid.  Who the hell cares anyway?  It’s a freakin’ balloon.  Now, go eat some cake.”

I had to get out of there and thankfully, it was finally over.  I was sure Mom would give me a talking to upon my departure.  As I changed into my street clothes, I prepared myself for the worst.  She was going freak out on me ranting about what a crappy clown I was.  Hell, I’d probably get fired too, but that didn’t matter.  For as long as I lived, I was never, EVER going to be a clown again.

“You were FANtastic!” she gushed as I stepped into the kitchen to say good-bye.  “Here’s the balance for the party and a little something for you.  Thank you!  THANK you,” she said, pumping my still-sweaty hand with gratitude.

I just stood there for a moment – dumbfounded and exhausted.  She was thanking me?  I just threw a bunch of balloons together and called them “animals” and she was giving me a tip? 

I mumbled a few niceties and got of there as quickly as I could, before she changed her mind.

Out on the street, I separated the money and saw that she’d given me a $100 tip.  ONE-hundred-DOLLARS!!!  Oh, the irony!  I tucked the money into my purse and dialed Violet.

“Liz! Hiiiiii!!! How’d it go?”

“It was great,” I lied, hoping she wouldn’t ask for any details.

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