From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mumthra)
Subject: Surprise Clowns
Date: 12 Apr 1999 00:00:00 GMT
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.
"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
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