From: (Mumthra)

Subject: Surprise Clowns

Date: 12 Apr 1999 00:00:00 GMT


Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free



We are employing a lot of improvisational poverty maneuvers: I'll

march the girls through any free exhibit within an hour's drive, and

now that the weather is Springing all over the place, we're marching

through the parks at least once on every non-monsoon day.


I love the park marching. It transports me to all the park lands that

my grandma pulled me through. She paddled me all over the tidal basin

in D.C.--that is, she did most of the peddling in the paddle boat--she

helped me climb on all the now-roped-off portions of the Capitol

Building and let me gawk endlessly at the heroic stone penises in the

huge Neptunian mythological fountains along the way. We had a great

many adventures together, but my favorite stop was always the

Botanical Gardens. I've been a sucker for gardens ever since.


The greenhouses are still safe from the wildlife, but our outdoor

gardens are overrun by pests. I don't remember their ever being as

many geese as there are right now. Granted, most of the places we

visit will never, hopefully, be as coated with goose poop as the wild

bird refuges, but they're getting close.


If I had any sort of entrepreneurial motivation, I'd find a novel use

for all that goose poop and make a big announcement on the 'net so

that other people could pay me to LEARN MORE ABOUT GOOSE POOP.

Unfortunately, I'm just not feeling that ingenious about shit. For

now, we just step around it or roll right over it.


I use a second-hand, unfashionable stroller for Bo, and much of the

time Spunky can be found huddling in the cargo hold below her. It's a

reasonably safe perch, as long as she remembers not to make any sudden

moves or to drag her fingers on the pavement.


Most people are surprised to spot her down there. It's as if I have an

extra BONUS child, although it could just be the reaction that others

generally have to Spunky's startling little self--I can't be sure.


She has startled a few geese in just this way. Most of them are at

least as surprised as our average nature-liking hiker, but instead of

saying something like, "Oh! You have ANOTHER one in there!" they say

something like "HERONK!" and goose step a little faster away.


She couldn't have known that the last goose was going to be different,

but I should have. It was big and loud, and staunchly claiming the

middle of our path ahead. Bo urged me to get closer with her panting

noises. "DEEZ!" she commanded. Spunky simply had to know at which DEEZ

her sister was crowing and bounced out from under the stroller without

warning. She darted at the grumpy goose.


"SSSSSSSSSSsssssssssss," the goose said, suddenly all-over hissing



I don't know about the way other people view birds, but I can go for a

long, long time without remembering that birds have tongues. This was

a disturbing reminder event, and we were all pretty alarmed. We backed

up and respectfully waited for it and its tongue to finish owning the



I reminded Spunky again to warn me when she was planning to pop out of

the stroller. "I could step on you," I pointed out.


"I doan mind," she replied, but that's what she always says. She'd

certainly do it again, and soon.


Later, we set off for another march, with Sparky leading this time. It

wasn't long before Spunky insisted that she was RILLY TIE-ORD and

simply had to scrunch herself under the stroller.


"Okay," I said. We resumed up the hill that Sparky was already

cresting. "Don't do that," I reminded her.


"Do what?"


"Don't drag your fingers like that."


"Why not?" She asked, still dragging.


"Because you'll erase your fingerprints."


"Oh." She stopped.


Sparky was out of sight, but another walker was coming up behind us.

I've learned that most of our neighbors prefer to be invisible when

they are out for exercise, they don't want us to slow their pulse or

break that fat-burning rhythm. I noticed only that this woman was

pumping her legs at nearly a race-walk speed, so I was prepared to

ignore her.


Spunky received some other sort of signal, some sort of burst of need

that flung her out of the bottom of the stroller and directly in front

of the walking woman.


"SSSSSSSSSSSsssssssss," the woman said, as she danced awkwardly to the

side with her arms flapping. She not only avoided falling, but avoided

touching Spunky in any way.


My muttered apology dried on my lips as I looked at the walking

woman's rumpled white face. She had painted-on surprise brows,

overly-red lips pulled back in a snarl and overly red hair blown back

from her face by a wind to which only it responded.


"Thermoplasticsssss!" she said. At least I think that was what she

said before she resumed her semi-rushed gait.


As her arms began to pump again, I noticed that her hands were either

made of white cotton or were covered in white cotton gloves. Her

movements seemed erroneously buoyant, as if she were bandaged all



Most of my neighbors don't have all of these attributes at the same



Spunky stared after her thoughtfully. "Charlie hates clowns. I doan

like clowns, eaver," said Spunky.


"Nobody likes SURPRISE clowns," I said, "not even other clowns."



This was probably from Mumthra.

"So you'd have to take it on faith that it was in fact

a tentacle and not, say, a potato." --Jahweh Dave Lynch