Blogs » On Another Note » Meet Me Under The Big Top


Took my stepdaughter to the circus yesterday. At first it seems as though maybe the circus isn’t as magical these days because I was older… but I decided that wasn’t the case at all. The old timey traveling circus is dying and may not be around much longer.

When I was younger, I lived in a smaller town than this one. But I remember my first run in with a circus so vividly.

The circuses back then, you could see the animals in their cages from a safe distance as they rested… The elephants would help put up the big tent. The sights and orderly chaos was magical to me. The sideshows where a bearded lady would take your ticket to see a real mummy (or so they claimed) and the little caboose that housed two headed snakes and taxidermies of other strange abominations. Well it could leave a kid with my tendencies positively inspired.

So it grew in me, this vision of a traveling circus. When my parents told me I could be anything I wanted if I put my mind to it, I’m sure being shot out of a cannon wasn’t what they were hoping. Looking at the state of most circuses today, it’s a good thing I didn’t pursue that route now that hey have all but disappeared. I always had a vision of circuses like in the movies “Big Top Pee Wee” or “Big Fish”.

But a boy can dream I suppose… life of a circus freak, maybe they could paste hair on me and I would be a wolfboy (too bad circus freaks disappeared after political correctness deemed it inhumane) … maybe I would take myself up on being the human cannonball after all… have some good times playing poker with the fat lady and the midget. Helping the giant patch his rocky relationship with the Siamese twins, maybe having a brief fling with a European aerial acrobat, and of course teaching Table Top Joe to play the trumpet for his big solo on the center ring… in my dreams… the circus was like a Tom Waits song.

It isn’t anymore (or maybe it never was)… the elephants didn’t walk holding each other’s tails with their snouts, (there was only one). The animals were put away from the public until show time. There was no freakshow, or two headed snakes. There were no carnies in strange costumes like a suit with tails and a top hat. (as a matter of fact most carnies nowadays will squash any romantic vision of a circus you ever have)… Heck, there wasn’t even a tent.

There was one cool thing though. The big cats were awesome. It was really cool to see them do their act. My step daughter watched with glee as they hopped around from perch to perch “Boy those tigers are smart!” she said. And when the hoop of fire was lit… she turned to me and asked “Can I do that when I grow up? Maybe I can be a cat person!” Maybe she can…. As long as someone gets a kick out of it maybe there is hope for the old school circus yet.