I hate the circus. There’s no magic, no wonder, no inner music. Clowns are idiots, not funny, not charming. Circus daredevils and dancing girls keep me at arm’s length. (Okay, I use the words “hate” and “idiots” carelessly.) I’m disinterested, bored, not charmed or mystified. My kids are more accomplished clowns and daredevils (because they’re natural) and when they consciously perform, you sense that they do it in pursuit of (or immersed in) their sense of wonder. At least, if you’re mom and dad, you do.

Then Cirque du Soleil comes to town in their giant rubbery bigtop on the waterfront. And my employer offers discount tickets. And the company CEO gets a little giddy describing his impressions from his first row seats. So, against my better judgment, I sold two of the family pets (pure-bred Martian Dustcats), took out a fourth mortgage, and bought tickets for the family. Fifth row tickets (I’m not a CEO).

We sat, we watched, we didn’t get up to pee. Then the cast took their calls, the curtain dropped, and we still didn’t want leave. My 17 year old (who is, by nature, unimpressed) and I both exclaimed, let’s run away and join the circus! His mother, who saw sense through her own starry eyes, pinched our ears and pulled us back to the van. By the time we cleared the parking lot, we’d left the waking dreams behind, replaced with “we had a nice time, didn’t we?”

REM world has no patience with practicality. You want to join the circus, you got it.  That night, dressed shoeless in the rumpled suit of the off duty clown, I bicycled after molting angels between chromatic clouds. I crawled on fingertips and knees through glittering underground tunnels, swung apelike through a forest of dandelion seed, spurred a clown horse over tundra in search of a feather’s owner. I stood on a street corner with my typewrite case open, selling trinket impressions: mystical, wonderful, superb! Angelic. Feathers! Erotic. Mystical. Transient. Oceanic. Truffle! Warm bath. Humbling.

Until an acrobatic cortege of hooligans in feathered caps stampeded my feet, stole my words, and raced into the footlights. And then, I woke up, dizzy and then days later, grasping at the rags of the dream here.

(Cast extras: I wanted to use “Fellini-esque” and “subconcious slurry” in my description, but couldn’t find a place, so here they are.)

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