Clowns Gone Postal

Friends, the saga continues. It pains me to tell you, but I can hide it no longer. There is a clown in my psyche screaming to get out.

I know this because I have uncovered something, which is more ghastly than the birthday greeting card I received for my sixth birthday.  There’s no easy way to say this, so I will let you see for yourself. After all, one picture is worth a thousand words. Or in this case, three pictures.

Exhibit B

Exhibit A









Yes, I am secretly obsessed with clowns.  So hush-hush is my obsession that even I did not know about it.  I have been deluding myself and now I am coming clean.  Apparently, as a child, I’d draw these pictures of clowns over and over. Incessantly. Ad nauseam. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.  What does it mean? I wish I knew.

I rest my case.

Which brings me to the latest clown terror in my life. I’m talking about the creepy, maniacal toy clown, that has firmly planted its over-sized clown feet, smack in the middle of our pop culture. It’s a toy clown gone postal! And we can thank the United States Postal Service and its ad agency for this addition to our collective consciousness.

The U.S. Postal Service clown. Could anything be scarier?

In the words of Johnny Depp, “Something about the painted face, the fake smile. There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil.”

Well said, Johnny. Well said.  But Mr. Depp wasn’t referring to the toy clown in the Postal Service commercial. According to a blog post, Top 10: Scary Clowns of All Time, he once shared this insight in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. But, if you ask me, he might as well have been talking about this particular clown gone postal.

For the few who haven’t seen this commercial, in it, an unassuming family of four has just returned home to find an ominous toy clown on their living room floor—apparently the result of an online purchase gone awry. Too afraid to go inside the house, they talk to a mailman about how to get rid of it.  Each time the camera pans back to the clown, it has mysteriously moved closer to the family, ultimately terrorizing all, even the hapless mailman.

The Postal Service commercial is frightening, and yet I find myself obsessively drawn to it each time it airs. Perhaps I’m hoping for a different ending, one where the toy is vanquished.  Whatever the reason, this shocking commercial rattles even the hardiest of psyches. It should only be played late at night when little children are asleep. Because the next thing you know, they’ll be drawing pictures of clowns. Again and again.  Ad nauseam. It’s a vicious cycle.

So maybe I’m obsessed with clowns. Maybe there’s a clown inside me, screaming till its curly orange hair stands on end. If so, I take solace in knowing that I am not alone in my phobia. There’s a website, and a Facebook page called “i hate clowns”—with 6,670 people who “like” it, including myself. Our fear has a name: coulrophobia, which means, a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of clowns. Unwarranted? I don’t think so. We coulrophobia-sufferers know better.

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!