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Going to the circus

04/12/2011 @ 2:20pm

Last weekend I went to the circus.  It wasn’t a huge circus – only two rings – but if you included the entertainment value of the half of the audience that was under three feet tall it amounted to more like thirty or forty rings.  There were gazillions of them – eating cotton candy and slurping away on ice slushies.  I would guess that the average weight of spectator going through the door was about thirty pounds, but I’m pretty sure they’d added another pound just in sugar - not to mention the hot dogs and popcorn - by the time they left.  It made for an interesting buzz in the air. 

To say there was much excitement would be a huge understatement.  Most of the kids knew what a circus was, even if they’d never seen one, and there were a lot of wide eyes that got a good deal wider when they went through the door and saw elephants, ponies and sparkly ladies.  Elephants seem massive to me, so I can only faintly imagine how big they appear to a three year old.

Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of circuses.  Our seats were right next to the cage full of tigers, and it just seems to me that they must be something they’d like to do more than jumping over a hurdle or laying down in a row and rolling over on command.  I’m guessing if the tigers could design the show to their own liking, there’d be a lottery of people attending, with the winner becoming part of the show - if you get my drift.

At first, I felt sorry for the elephant too, but that quickly turned to envy.  Elephants are funny looking – legs like tree trunks and eyes like a mob accountant, but they are surprisingly agile.  The one at this circus climbed up on top of a giant cylinder and rolled it across the arena.  I applauded a little, but what I was thinking was, “I don’t think I could do that and I only have two legs to keep track of.”

I have to admit, it was a blow to my self-esteem to watch a ginormous elephant lumber across an arena and my first thought is, “Hey, he’s in better shape than I am.”

I didn’t really see that coming. It didn’t bother me that the guy on the trapeze looked a lot better with his shirt off than I do – many people do.  I wasn’t even jealous of his one-handed chin-ups, because, frankly, I couldn’t do a one-handed chin up even when I was twenty-three.  In fact, I think the reason nothing about the trapeze guy bothered me was because it has never been my job to hang upside down by my feet, thirty feet in the air (except for a couple of times when I was working on the stirator in the drying bin).

But, when I find myself looking at an elephant, whose waist measurement is roughly nine feet in diameter larger than his shoulders, and I start thinking, “Man, is that guy cut, or what?” that’s not such a good feeling.

A little while later in the show the elephant did a handstand.  Yeah, I can’t do that either.

Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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