The Time I Went to the Circus
I was something of a whiny bitch as a child.
Sure, I had my cute moments, but some of my mom’s catch phrases from that era were: “Would you like some cheese with than whiiiine?” and “I’m not the cruise director on the Titanic, find your own thing to do and save yourself.” I was, and still am, a champion whiner. I’d like to think I’m a bit better these days, but damn do I love a good bitch session. Few things let off more steam.
Anyway, the story today comes from when I was quite young – maybe 6 or 7 years old. Barnum & Bailey had come to Cincinnati, and my parents decided to take me and my sister to the circus for the first time. I was SUPER excited to see lions and elephants, but already terrified in advance of any clowns. A friend of mine had stolen a VHS copy of Stephen King’s IT from her parents and made me watch it during a sleepover. I never saw clowns the same way again.
Sadly, I remember very little about the circus itself since I decided to have a massive tantrum immediately afterwards, and it pushed all memories of cotton candy and trained dogs out of my little mind. As we left the big top, I saw a street vendor selling pink plastic spinning wands that played music and flashed lights. Basically, just like the one in the photo above, but pink instead of blue.
Being the magpie that I was, I simply had to have one of these. It was obviously a cheap piece of crap, but at that moment, I wanted it more than anything in the whole world. I begged my parents for one, but they had already spent a fortune on tickets, crummy food, and balloons, and were not interested in toting home yet another junk toy that I would likely forget about after an hour or so.
For some reason, this refusal made me simply lose my shit. I distinctly remember throwing such a dramatic tantrum that probably even the clowns thought I was a little over the top. I got down on the ground, crying and flailing my arms and legs. Imagine you are my parents, and you’ve just spent a heartwarming evening with your daughters, showing them the joy of their first circus. You feel content, and like you’ve done right by your kids. And then one of them flips the fuck out for no damn reason at all. My parents, not ones to put up with such a display, dragged me off to the car. The message was that I could scream all I wanted, but the answer was no, and that was FINAL.
As soon as we got home, I ran off to my room to stew about the wand. I felt horribly unlucky and bitter, acting every bit the spoiled brat that I was.
When I went to school on Monday, I was crushed to see at least half a dozen fellow students running around gleefully with their own circus spinners. I went to a ritzy public school, and evidently these kids had managed to pull in the mother load of circus merchandise. I nearly burst into tears, and went to go sulk in the corner for a while.
But then I had a thought. Maybe I could get a circus wand after all? I had orchestrated a trading ring at my school involving me and a few other girls. We would bring random objects from our houses, then see what we could swap with each other. I had pulled out the big guns once before to secure Lisa’s rabbit fur monster. It was a little black ball made from rabbit fur that had two googly eyes poking out of the top. Oh, how I wanted it. I was so desperate to have it that I traded her FOUR other items for it. For some reason, I was obsessed with fur at this age, and just couldn’t get enough of it.
For a circus spinner, I decided to pull out all the stops. One of the girls had one, and I dangled in front of her several of my prize possessions, including a hot pink rabbit’s foot that I carried around everywhere, and claimed was magical. Assorted boondoggles and friendship bracelets (a little girl’s bread and butter) finished out the array of objects I was willing to trade, but I had no takers.
Nothing could compete with that damn circus spinner wand.
I eventually let it go, and after a few weeks, nobody was bringing theirs to school anymore. I later traded my rabbit’s foot for some pogs and a slammer (a terrible, terrible trade). These were later confiscated by school officials as being “gambling paraphernalia.” The trading ring collapsed soon after, but I still sometimes think about that stupid wand.