Last Sunday our family, including Nana and Papa, went to the Shrine Circus, which is definitely the ONLY reason on God’s green earth anyone needs to spend three hours in downtown Flint, feet sticking to the gooey floor of Perani Arena.
I take that back. Flint Generals hockey games, also held at Perani (the former IMA), are entertaining as hell for the people-watching opportunities alone. The first time we took our boys to a game (Cam and Jerame were about four and five) Joe turned around to tell a foul-mouth fan to shut it only to find the offender was an 80-year-old grandmother, who proceeded to threaten him with her cow bell.
But back to the circus. I have to say (and this probably isn’t cool) but…I loooooove the circus. There’s something about people with very strange, particular talents assembled under one roof, complete with the pungent smell of animal dung and enough bedazzled clothing to make Ray Charles wince that just makes me smile.
And the circus performers are pretty amazing too!
Hahaha. Get it? That was a crack about our fellow circus-goers. I kill me.
The first thing my dad did when we walked in the door was to hunt down the Shriner selling programs and buy one for each of the boys (Papa rocks). Anyone who has ever been to the Shrine Circus knows the traditional pre-show/half-time/post-show entertainment is to get the signatures of the Shrine Clowns, who roam around the arena. At first I worried that Cameron, who turned 12 in November, might be a little old for the clown signing, or at least believe himself to be too old. And at first he gave Joe one of those weird, pre-teen eyebrow arches that seem to say, “Really, Dad? Really?” But he trailed off after his brothers mumbling something about “just going to keep an eye on them”.
Fast-forward ten minutes and the boys (led by Cameron) were in full-blown, no-holds-barred, clown search mode. I think if Osama Bin Laden had a red nose and big floppy shoes, our kids could hunt him down. I just know if one other kid left that arena with a single signature more than our boys they may have just sacrificed themselves to the lion cage. I haven’t seen people so intent in hunting down crazy looking characters since the last time I watched Dog the Bounty Hunter.
By the time we left the boys had tracked down 28 clowns and some guy who looked like a clown but turned out to be a fellow member of the audience. Awkward! Jerame apologized profusely for asking for the guy’s signature, but come on – if you wear overalls with no shirt underneath (in January) and a coon skin cap to a circus, people can easily make that mistake.
The show itself (the real one, in the rings) was fantastic, too. I’ve been to many, many circuses in my life (including an awesome one-ring show last summer in Flushing that was actually held in a tent. In a tent raised by elephants!) but this show offered a few things I’ve never seen before:
- Tigers and lions performing together. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. I didn’t even know they could be in the same cage and not kill each other. Although, I’m not sure they could have killed a Shriner Clown, being all hopped up on some sort of jungle cat roofies.
- Tightrope walkers with ADHD. I usually HATE the high wire act because I’m always sure I’ll be at the one show when someone falls and splatters guts and grey matter all over the crowd. I usually watch it with both hands over my face, peeking through a slight crack between my fingers. I don’t know why this helps, it just does. But these tightrope walkers were AMAZING! A Latin American family, they were literally dancing across the ropes like Menudo on speed, and even when they were on the platforms on each end they would bounce around and never stop moving. They made it look so easy I forgot about the guts (and the grey matter) for awhile.
- Five people on motorcycles inside a steel globe. I’ve seen one person do this, maybe even two, but five? FIVE? Our family can’t spend ten minutes together in our 1,800 square foot house without hurting each other, and these guys are in a cage the size of our half-bath on motorized vehicles. While they were racing around and around my mom (a fellow circus junkie) looked over at me, eyes glazed with glee like a second grader who just discovered Mountain Dew and said “This is the BEST. PART. YET.” And she was totally right.