The Clown Menace

Get me to a therapist! I have had an epiphany!  While rummaging through a box of old photos, I came across a frightening little gem, which I am certain is the reason for my irrational fear of clowns.  It’s simple, it’s cunning and it’s scary. Reader, be warned, what I’m about to show you is not for the faint of heart.  Small children should leave the room, lest they be scarred for life like me.

The year is 1961. My sixth birthday and my mother throws a party for me.  Among the invitees is Anita, my dear, childhood friend—or so I thought.  She is also my next door neighbor.  Anita brings me a gift (long since forgotten) and a birthday card that is sure to make any child’s hair stand on end. Not just any card, mind you, but a Hallmark card. You know the one that has the slogan,  “When you care enough to send the very best.”  Well, very best, indeed, if your goal is to terrify the birthday girl.

And yet I can’t help but wonder how this card, featuring clowns with maniacal grins, slipped through the Hallmark channels of approval to be green lighted as a suitable card for unsuspecting six year olds.  Ok, Reader, this is absolutely your last chance to divert the eyes!  Still there? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Here it is:

I am sure that this card was the beginning of the end for me.  No doubt leading me down a path that was anti anything clowns.  No longer would I be able to laugh at a Volkswagen Bug overstuffed with clowns.  Clowns slipping on banana peels would henceforth be lost on me.  Ditto for Red Skelton’s clown persona. And getting anywhere within a five-mile radius of a circus would be simply out of the question, thanks to Hallmark and my so-called friend, Anita.

I am not one to mince words so here it is, this clown menace must stop once and for all!  Wake up, America and cease subjecting your children to clowns. These creatures are neither entertaining nor enlightening.  And, contrary to the sentiment on this particular birthday card, I refuse to “act like a clown, laugh and have fun!”  I will not send in the clowns and I will not fall for their mind games and become one of them.

Learn from the mistake of my friend, Anita.  Unbeknownst to her, she became an innocent pawn in a world that prizes clowns as good, safe fun.  Clowns are good for one thing only, to torment and scare the living daylights out of small kids.  I am living proof and if I ever see Anita again, I will let her know.

In the meantime, know this:  I long ago put clowns on notice, but after coming across this nightmare of a birthday card, I know that just putting these red-nosed harlequins on notice is not enough!  As such, clowns are now dead to me.  The buck stops here, my friends.  So, find another victim to menace. I’m through with clowns!

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4 thoughts on “The Clown Menace

  1. I’m not afraid of clowns nor are my kids, but I don’t get it. They don’t amuse me and frankly, I find it a little weird. Usually, we find out that the person being the clown has some underlying mental issues. Red Skelton didn’t really dress up like a clown too much, his makeup was minimal. But circus clowns….there’s something else going on….the person is hiding something under all that makeup. And that makes me skeptical of his/her intentions. Maybe that’s what they really want to do: Scare the living bejesus out of kids. They get off on it.
    Yeah, if clowns disappeared off the face of the earth, I wouldn’t miss them. The Ringling Bros. circus might actually be considered “non-threatening” in the eyes of some children.

    What was your reaction when you received the card on your 6th birthday?

    • When I got that card, I think I was stunned into silence. I put it aside and then proceeded to block it from memory, until I found it again. I think my feelings about clowns grew gradually, but this was a key moment in my clown phobia. Btw, did you know that Red Skelton was also a painter and he painted many portraits of clowns? I believe it was his specialty. I have vivid memories of him in his clown mode. Very scary.

  2. I think I knew that. But I recall ever seeing any of this renditions. Red was a gentle man though, fun loving and very sweet. He enjoyed laughter. I loved his show and the way his guests would crack him up in the middle of a skit or the way he would turn to the audience and laugh. That was real comedy! You don’t find that anymore. They’re trying to hard these days.

    I’m sorry he scared you. I don’t think that was his intentions. I certainly can understand how clowns can be scary. It’s just not right with all that make up and the over zealous smiles.

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