I don’t like clowns. No, “don’t like” isn’t strong enough. I despise, loathe and hate clowns. Clowns scare me to death. There’s a word for people like me — other than neurotic, that is — coulrophobic. (Hey, look at that, we’ve got our own phobia.)
It makes perfect sense to me (uh-oh, isn’t that what all phobics think about their fears?). First of all, the make-up. Really? We’re talking more garish than a costume party in hell. Then, the clothing. And again I say, who designed it — Satan? And finally, not to get too psychodramatic here, but what’s going on under all those creepy, painted-on smiles?
As a little girl, I saw an episode of some TV show where about 150 clowns all piled into a tiny circus car, but only 149 came out alive. Clearly, there was a clown killer in the bunch (either that, or the poor guy smothered on too much greasepaint). Just goes to show you why little kids should only watch kids’ shows. (Like Bozo the Clown. Not).
It isn’t that I haven’t tried to overcome the phobia (why, exactly, I’m not sure). As an adult, I attempted to watch Stephen King’s It, the mini-series based on his bestseller about a clown who terrorizes children and lives in the sewers. My attempt lasted about 30 seconds into the clown’s first appearance. My aversion to walking too close to sidewalk grates lasted for years. And my utter Bozo-phobia is everlasting.
Maybe that’s why the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode about the funeral of Chuckles the Clown (watch it here) is the only clown experience that makes me laugh. Number one — ding, dong, the clown is dead. Number two — Mary’s reaction is priceless. And number three — all Chuckles wanted out of life was “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”
Do me a favor. Don’t send in the clowns.
© 2014 Claudia Grossman