The “Bad” Mom.

(Inspired by a story by Aimee Blanchette)

My mother never loved me, cuz she never would supply

Me with probiotics or a knotted Windsor tie.

She often tucked me into bed and left me in the dark

Without a bedtime story—which I think was pretty stark.

 

I always felt neglected when Art Linkletter was on;

She wouldn’t bother to get up and fetch me a pecan.

And when I said a bad word I did not get therapy;

A bar of soap inside my mouth was good enough for me.

 

She liked to use Chef Boyardee when she was in a rush,

And poisoned me with sugar in my cereal and mush.

She let my laundry pile up, let my shoe laces all fray.

You never would mistake her for a stainless Doris Day!

 

She gossiped with the neighbors when I needed a nose wipe,

And didn’t care when I ate apples green and quite unripe.

My mother fell down on the job of making me behave.

I’m sorry to report that she was NOT the perfect slave.    

Famous People I Have Met.

I thought I was shaking hands with Jehovah.
I thought I was shaking hands with Jehovah.

Working as a circus clown for Ringling Brothers back in the 1970’s, I came in contact with a number of celebrities who visited the show – usually pushed, prodded and/or bribed into coming by the show’s nimble publicity agents.  Even though I think most trips down Memory Lane are train wrecks, here is a partial list of the luminaries I met while performing with The Greatest Show on Earth.

  • Tony Bennett. The great crooner and his wife came to see the show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  When clown alley heard he was in the audience, we immediately set to work cutting out a gigantic foam rubber heart, which we hurriedly painted a lurid red.  During intermission all 26 of us trooped up to Mr. Bennett’s seat to tell him we were returning the heart he had lost in San Francisco.  He took the joke well, and one of the clowns approached his wife to say “I understand you’re from my hometown in Ohio – Zanesville!”  She looked at him coolly for a minute before replying “That was his last wife.”  The publicity staff quickly shooed us all back to our steamer trunks.
  • Larry Fine. The beloved “porcupine” of the Three Stooges came to see the show in Los Angeles.  He was in a wheelchair, hooked up to a portable oxygen tank.  After the show he insisted on coming backstage to shake hands with every single clown.  For a young man like me, who was desperately trying to master the art of slapstick, it was like shaking hands with Jehovah.
  • Cary Grant. Also in Los Angeles.  I was hurrying out a side door to make my entrance for a clown gag and ran into a well-built older man in a black suit.  I don’t wear my glasses when performing, so I did not see this road block very clearly.  Irritated, I asked him to please move, and he replied politely “Certainly.  I’m sorry to be in the way.”  There was no mistaking that voice; I turned at once and gazed myopically into the face that launched a thousand heart throbs.  “You’re Cary Grant!” I sputtered in complete awe.  “Sometimes; when I feel like it” he replied with a real Hollywood twinkle in his eye.
  • Art Linkletter. The genial television host was in a bad mood when he was told the evening performance had been delayed by fifteen minutes due to some issues with the Siberian tigers not getting their horse meat on time.  He was the guest ringmaster.  In the circus, the animals are always fed and watered before any human being – but Linkletter did not grasp that concept.  I was standing next to him, so I heard him muttering, apparently NOT in jest, “This is no way to run a circus.”
  • Richard J. Daley, perennial Mayor of Chicago. Daly and his Democratic party cohorts bought out the show one evening, and then threw open the doors and let the people of Chicago in for free.  He took the microphone away from Harold Ronk, the ringmaster, and hosted the proceedings himself, often stopping the show for a brief political harangue. Being mildly liberal back then, I did not take kindly to his politics, or his raucous personality.  When he asked all the clowns to come up and sit in the box seats with him, I quickly rearranged my makeup – putting on a Hitler mustache and combing my hair down in the style of the German dictator.  I then goose stepped up to Hizzoner and gave the Nazi salute.  He simply shook hands, uttering in his guttural style, “Nice ta meetcha!” and took no more notice of me.  After the show, which lasted into the wee hours of the morning, I caught holy Hannah from the performance director, himself a German.

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This entertaining blog is brought to you by the Scera Theater in Orem, Utah.  Visit their website for information on plays, workshops, and other cultural activities.