Gray Matters: Clowns are people too, stop the hate

Once there was a little boy and his parents named him Bozo. Do you know what Bozo chose for a career when he grew up? He was a heart surgeon. (I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming)  But Bozo had a friend, a little boy who lived right next door, and his name was Tommy. Tommy grew up to become a clown. It wasn’t an easy choice or life for a kid with a big red nose and floppy shoes. When Tommy’s parents dropped him off at school and he was one of 14 kids to get out of their small car, the other kids laughed. When he took an orange balloon and twisted it into the likeness of Donald Trump, some called him deplorable. But Tommy took a seven-foot long hankie out of his breast pocket, dried those tears and painted on a smile.

Now Tommy turns on the news or looks at social media and sees nothing but hatred toward his kind. Every time he books a gig at Chuck E Cheese he has to ask himself, “Should I leave the house in normal street clothes and just put on my clown outfit and makeup in the dirty, cramped restroom that smells like diapers and skittles? Or do I pull up my big boy pants and suspenders, grab my horn and wig and walk out of the house like the proud clown I am?”

Tommy got tired of hiding so the other day he put on his clown clothes and made a break for his car hoping the neighborhood children wouldn’t see him. Then, suddenly, he heard a screech, “CLOWN, CLOWN, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, IT’S A CLOWN!”  Before he could put out this fire, with his lapel flower that shoots water, the woman next door (who hates Halloween and never gives out candy) snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook and Twitter. There was Tommy dressed like a clown standing on the street in broad daylight right near “normal” people. Worse, if you look at the photo closely you’ll see a child in the background. Do you know what that kid said to him? “Hey Tommy, going to work?” And the clown responded, “Oh, hi Billy, yep.”

Since everyone knows clowns eat people (just ask Stephen King) the photo was immediately shared a thousand times in ten seconds and people started flooding police with phone calls. Are my children in danger? Who let a clown into our town? Is the little boy in the photo OK?

Turns out Billy is just fine but sadly Tommy was tased, cuffed and sent off to Guantanamo Bay where that actor from “Zero Dark Thirty” had a little chat with him, “Not so funny now, are we clown?”

In the end Tommy was released, returned home but now he lives in fear that if the phone rings and he books a 7 year old’s birthday party he once again faces a hard choice- conform to societies fears or be who I am? I can’t tell you what happens next, that depends on you, the clown haters of America. I will tell you a joke that Tommy shared with me right before he went back into hiding. Why don’t sharks eat clowns? Answer- because they taste funny.  Yep, I said it.

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