Wednesday, April 05, 2006

two bears in a basket

By Faneuil Hall, my sister and I saw this scruffy-looking man wearing headphones and dressed in a dirty clown smockish thing. He was making something with balloons. "You folks having a good day," he asked. We said we were. "I'm having a bad day," he said. The obvious question here would have been "Why?", but, since we were ambivalent about being in the conversation in the first place, we didn't asked it. "I was having a good day, but then it turned bad," he said. Again, the obvious question went unasked. "I'd be having a better day if somebody would leave."

At first I thought he was talking about us and was irritated with us staring at him while he made balloon animals. But even a crazy guy would not stand in a clown suit in a crowded part of Boston if he didn't want strangers to watch. So then I figured he was talking about this oafish guy who was standing by his balloon stash, but that didn't make sense because, if anything, the guy looked like his balloon-animal-groupie-backup.

Then I looked over and saw that not too far away there was another clown, older and dressed in a sort of dignified Doctor Who getup, standing on a blue crate and also doing balloons. Aha!

"Now you see what has me upset," our clown says. Then he starts talk to us in a louder voice while looking back and forth to the guy. Statements included, "Some people can't generate their own audience, so they have to come into other people's territory," "He only makes like dogs and stuff. He can't do anything like what I can do," "He's so unprofessional. He doesn't even blow up his own balloons. You think a real professional would use a pump like that."

Eventually, the other clown picked up his crate and walked away. We continued to talk to our clown until he finished making his two bears in a basket. He said he would probably be able to sell it for $20, although he would sell it for $5 since he could make them so easy. I have no idea what clowns actually make on balloon animals. My sister is even less the bears-in-a-basket type than I am, so we didn't buy it. I would have given him money just for being an entertaining street performer, but he didn't have a thing out. This may also be part of being a "professional" in the balloon animal trade, I don't know.


Anonymous said...

This is really a story about panels at the ASA, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Yep, the writing course shines through on this one. Good.

Anonymous said...

I love this story, Jeremy. One thing's for sure: clownin ain't easy.

Kim said...

Pretty soon, some clown is going to organize into the National Association of Clowns, while some other clown is going to found the Society for the Advancement of Clown Professionals.

Pretty soon, SACP and NAP are going to be offering competing certifications to clowns.

Pretty soon, SACP is going to convince some congressperson (probably in Illinois, which loves licensing things) that NAC and all the other unorganized clowns are taking advantage of an unsuspecting public that can't differentiate clown products.

Pretty soon, a spinoff organization of SACP, the Board of Clown Professionals will be given state authority to grant licenses to clowns who pass the Clown Bar.

Pretty soon, the cost of bears-in-a-basket will skyrocket to $550 in downtown Chicago, and your only recourse will be to cross state lines or buy contraband animal balloons.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, man, just the photograph had me laughing for a long time. It took me a while to think of who that guy looks like, but I finally realized it's Jimmy from the original 1950s Mickey Mouse Club TV show. Not that he dressed like that or had that attitude, which is quite hilarious.

carly said...

You know, despite his bad attitude and all... I'm quite impressed by those bears-in-a-basket.