I’m clownin’ around with fear

Since Halloween is right around the corner, and ghosts, goblins and other frightful beings are bound to be about, I’m going to write about a very apt topic for this week: fear. Muhahaha!

Specifically, I’m going to draw attention to a fear of mine that really has no logical base.

I’m talking about coulrophobia, folks.

Yes, I am afflicted with the fear of clowns.

I know it doesn’t make sense – clowns are allegedly jovial beings that are supposed to make us laugh – but they give me the creeps.

If I see one on the television, I’ll change the channel.

If, heaven forbid, I come across a clown in my daily life, I make every effort to avoid the painted-face jokester.

I can trace my fear back to two specific instances.

The first involves a childhood birthday party where my mom took a group of other youngsters and I to Circus Circus.

For those of you unfamiliar with Circus Circus, it was one of those establishments that catered to the tastes of kids with pizza, arcade games and oodles of multicolored lights that pulsated at a rate fast enough to induce seizures.

That’s what I can remember of it, anyway.

Toward the end of our day there, we lined up for a photo with the official gatekeeper of the place, which just happened to be someone in a mascot suit made to look like a clown.

The clown mascot was gigantic and had a smile slapped on its face that bordered on deranged.

Subsequently, I lost it and started bawling, which made for a great photograph.

My next brush with a scary clown came at the Minnesota State Fair haunted house.

Let me preface this story by noting that I don’t condone violence, but sometimes it just happens.

I was a teenager and my dad goaded me into going into house with him.

I didn’t think it would be frightening, and for the most part it wasn’t.

But about halfway through the less-than-terrifying attraction, something happened that significantly raised my level of alarm.

Someone dressed as a demented clown jumped right out in front of me when I had my head turned, and I bumped into the creature.

Upon seeing what I had stumbled into, my “fight or flight” instinct took over, and I guess the instinct decided to go the violent route instead of making me turn tail and run through throngs of people to the nearest exit.

I socked the clown in the gut with my fist and stepped back – like I said, it was really just a reaction.

I heard a “woosh” as the air was forced out of the clown’s lungs from my hit, and a grunt when he slid back into whatever trap door he had been hiding in before he jumped out in front of me.

To this day, that’s the only person I’ve ever punched.

I felt bad about what I did, and my dad asked me what happened in the haunted house when we got back outside.

I can’t remember verbatim what I said, but it was probably something like, “I socked that clown, we should probably get out of here.”

Here’s the moral of these two stories: there is no moral. Clowns are creepy. If you see them, run.

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