September 27, 2002
Sometimes I’m sorry I missed the 1930’s. Oh, I know, there was the Depression, soup kitchens, rickets and pellagara were as common as hiccups, and, to hear some describe it, every town had three or four syphilitics ambling around in a barely conscious state. But I grew up reading a lot of dark, morbid stories about the weird goings-on in travelling circuses, carnivals, and sideshows, which seemed to have had their heyday in the 1930’s. Having such entertainment might not be compensation enough for tertiary syphilis, but it’d take your mind off your xerophtalmia or scurvy.
I remember the first time I was taken to the circus. I thought, Wow, I’ll get to see some heavily tattooed guy (this was before you could see heavily tattooed people on the street, in shopping malls, or in business meetings) and who knows what kind of freaks. The only freaks I saw were some people dressed up as mascots from a fast food restaurant jumping around like they had St. Vitus dance. Promoting any of the circuses I went to as a kid as "the greatest show on Earth" had a seriously negative effect on international tourism. In this day of political correctness, though, and in a time when we see enough freaks by turning on talk shows, what sort of sideshow attractions could circuses offer?
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I think I might try to gather together a group of 21st Century Freaks, creatures so bizarre they’ll still have the power to shock, disturb, and draw in plenty of nickel ticket-holders. Here’s my lineup so far:
The Overweight Supermodel. Step right up, folks, here she is, walking her own private runway. Standing five foot six inches and weighing a whopping 125 pounds, it’s The Overweight Supermodel. Come by for the Noon Feeding when she’ll eat an entire cup of cantaloupe and half a piece of dry toast. You’ll have to see it to believe it.
The Honest CEO. Right this way for a freak like you’ve never seen before. This man’s company failed to meet its third quarter estimates, so he declined to take his annual bonus. Don’t be afraid – that’s just his paycheck he’s pressing to the glass, proving that he barely has a six-figure salary and assets totalling less than two million dollars, all of which he declared on his tax forms last year.
The Conscientious Fast Food Restaurant Employee. Get as close as you want, folks, the counter is guaranteed protection. She’ll say please, thank you, and wish you a nice day. Place your special order here, and she’ll see to it personally. Don’t panic–she’s just offering you a free order of french fries because your burger took so long to cook.
The Televangelist Who Doesn’t Want Your Money. Yes folks, here he is, our very own Televangelist. Put your money away – he’ll only give it to people less fortunate than himself, which he thinks means everybody. Come by for our shows at 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and a special 7 o’clock revival meeting during which our Televangelist will speak on the topic Many Paths, affirming his belief that no religion is superior to any other. He will also condemn hate crimes and call for the cooperation of people of different faiths to make the world a different place. Parents are warned that the message of openness and tolerance may warp the minds of their children, causing them to question the validity of condemning their neighbors to Hell and fill them with a spirit of optimism and the belief that by being nice to other people they can make the world a better place. You’ll probably want to give your children a healthy dose of cynicism and hopelesness afterward, so take them to the circus next door after you leave.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
[The following list has been declared safe for triskaidekaphobics]
1. There are two sides to every divorce: Yours and Moron’s.
2. The closest I ever got to a 4.0 in college was my blood alcohol content.
3. I live in my own little world, but it’s OK, everyone knows me here.
4. I saw a rather large woman wearing a sweatshirt with ‘Guess’ on it. I said, "Thyroid problem?"
5. I don’t do drugs ’cause I find I get the same effect just by standing up really fast.
6. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
7. I got a sweater for Christmas… I really wanted a screamer or a moaner.
8. If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the "terminal"?
9. I don’t approve of political jokes…I’ve seen too many of them get elected.
10. The most precious thing we have is life, yet it has absolutely no trade-in value.
11. If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary’s.
12. I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
14. Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at bowling alleys.
15. I am a nobody, nobody is perfect, and therefore I am perfect.
16. Everyday I beat my own previous record for number of consecutive days I’ve stayed alive.
17. No one ever says "It’s only a game!" when their team is winning.
18. Ever notice that people who spend money on beer, cigarettes,and lottery tickets are always complaining about being broke and not feeling well?
19. How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.
20. Isn’t having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?
21. Marriage changes passion…suddenly you’re in bed with a relative.
22. Why is it that most nudists are people you don’t want to see naked?
23. Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled.
24. Every time I walk into a singles bar I can hear Mom’s wise words: Don’t pick that up, you don’t know where it’s been.