“we interrupt this program to annoy you and make things generally irritating.”

I remember going to the circus as a kid but not being totally into it. I was more of Sesame Street Live kinda girl.

When I was eight my mom got my brother Brian and I passes at a Ringling Bros. Circus to be plucked out of the audience by a clown and taken down to the floor and get shoved in a chariot and driven around the Civic Center a few times. That didn’t go over for my coulrophobic brother nor for me who had serious separation anxiety issues. Or maybe that’s what started the whole thing for us. Either way, if you ever want to scare him just show him a clown and if you want to terrify me leave me at the YWCA. Or school. Or the mall. Or with the circus.

Because I have a general hatred for people and a true love for animals I was always kind of put off by Ringling Brothers, but I had a thing for the Shriner’s Circus, with the trapezey tightroper acrobateurs and motocross death wheels and the lady who was suspended above Veteran’s Stadium by her ponytail and other whackjobs who were more than thrilled with putting themselves inches from death for my amusement. Sword swallowers, YES! Fire breathers, PLEASE! Freaks and dare devils have always intrigued me. They had the horses and elephants too, but I would go get a snowcone when they were doing their acts. You couldn’t escape watching the animals with the Ringlings. I remember one year they had a shark tank.

A Shark Tank.
A traveling Shark Tank.
I cried because I didn’t think it was fair or natural to cart sharks around the country, and of course I assumed that the shark was probably detoothed for the safety of the shark diver. It was so sad. I remember the day perfectly, I was with all my Jones cousins, escorted by our grandpa, and we were in the upper level, and I had cotton candy, and even that I was wearing a turquoise shirt over a magenta one, sleeves rolled for the layered look (because it was 1986), a Swatch watch (with guard), madras shorts, and pink Converse high tops that I was staring at so none of the boys could see me cry. Seriously, what is my problem? I should have been focusing on the bigger problems that I had in sixth grade, like the fact I had Sally Jesse Raphael glasses, braces, badly feathered hair styled with VO5, and I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs or wear make up. Have I ever mentioned what a hideous child I was? I actually could have been part of the circus.

Anyway, the point of this whole rambly post is that the circus is in town and even though Jake is too young to (a) sit still for that long and (b) care, I’m realizing that I’m getting to the point of parenting when I have to start to start thinking about values and morals and other hard stuff. Do I tell him how I feel about animal exploitation, or do I let him go ahead and do kid stuff just for the sake of letting him be a kid? Do I let him go if someone else pays for the ticket so I can sleep at night knowing that not dollar one of my money is aiding and abetting the lion whippers and shark toters? Or do I put my foot down and apologize to my poor soon-to-be deprived baby because he can’t see a real live-action tiger because he is lucky enough not to be born in India where little boys like him get eaten by real live-action tigers? He knows what a tiger is, and what noise they make and that they are big cats and that they are awinch wif bwack stwipes. Does he really need to know what one looks like with a grown man’s head in it’s mouth or jumping through a ring of fire?

And for your visual enjoyment, here is a picture of an elephant in its natural habitat. In South Philly.

Go Flyers.


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