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My Parents Are Clowns – The Beginning.

I’ve written of my parents before. If I’ve done them justice, I’ve given you the impression that they are a lively and inspiring pair who are revered by many. I’m fortunate to have landed with them.

There is something that I haven’t written of until now. I was raised by clowns. I mean that in its most literal sense – my parents became clowns. Yes, red nose, big shoe wearing parents.

Things were apparently normal before the conversion. We lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.. My dad was a Federal Agent. My mom kept the house running and ran a little cake decorating business. I was in high school, my brother was a few years back in middle school. Things were so normal.

Yeah, So Normal

Look, you wouldn't guess it, would you? They still own big shoes.

The thing is, when she told me what was about to happen, my mom said it like things were still normal.

I’d come home after cross-country practice. She was cooking and we were having the “how was your day, what’s new” talk. “Dad and I aren’t going to be home for dinner. You guys eat without us. We’ll get something while we’re out.”

Normal. So normal.

I asked where they were going. “Clown school.” Normal. Mom was and still is a joker. But when I asked again, she confirmed it. I laughed and asked again. If I asked enough, she’d tell me what they were really doing. That’s what I thought.

But the answer never changed. She was serious, they were going to clown school.

The natural question in a situation like this is “why?” So that’s what I asked. My mother just kind of shrugged and smiled. She wasn’t mean about it, that was just the answer.

How Could I Have Missed It?

There was no warning. No signs of them researching the matter. No books strewn about. We hadn’t been to the circus since I was quite young. No strange phone messages from anyone named Sparkles. The evening before, we had dinner and talked about normal stuff. And yet they were serious about going to learn to be clowns.

I was sure I’d missed a sign. I’d worked so hard bringing them up. How could this happen?

Later, in the quiet of my room, I contemplated what my mother and father going to clown school meant to me. I reached a horrible conclusion, quickly. I was destined to live my entire life as a virgin.

As I write this, I am fifty years old. I have talks with my parents and ask about the things I didn’t understand when they happened:

  • I never knew how they knew everything I did, even when they moved out of state. I now know the name of their spies.
  • I know word for word what was said in one particularly volatile parent/teacher conference.
  • I’ve heard the story of why I was given my name.

But even now, I still have no idea how or why my parents made this choice that to me, still seemed to have come out of nowhere. Not long ago, I told my mom that I still didn’t understand why they’d started clowning.

All she said was “ha ha ha, yeah.”

To be continued…

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47 Comments on “My Parents Are Clowns – The Beginning.”

  1. Wendi says:

    Somehow the fact that your parents are clowns is the most absurdly perfect thing.

  2. Christy says:

    I’ll have to bet that the decision came about over a lot of wine. Thats why you haven’t heard why they decided to do this yet, because they forgot why as well, they just woke up the next morning, found out they had signed up for classes and went.
    As far as finding out your parents are clowns, I have to say, this revelation is actually not surprising to me. It explains a lot.

  3. Parents. You just have to do the best you can and then let ’em go, hoping you did the right thing. The jury is still out on this one, though.

  4. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    Awesome! I was (am?) a clown, active for quite some time. When I was in high school, my church youth group started a clown ministry. We were taught by a local, and took many classes/workshops with real Ringling Bros. clowns. It was all kinds of fun. Sadly, I’m still a poor juggler (unless it’s with scarves), and I probably don’t fit into my old costume.

    • omawarisan says:

      I was surprised how many classes and workshops there were. They went all over the place learning to do this stuff.

      I learned to juggle (completely not related to my parents clowning) but I found doing scarves made moving up to bean bags/balls harder.

  5. Lenore Diane says:

    I look forward to the next chapter. Meanwhile, your parents are so young, Oma! Holy smokes. No clowning around – the picture is great!

  6. We Found Him Captain! says:

    Maybe they just like to get “dressed up”……… It’s no secret the older generation enjoy formal gatherings, meeting and greeting type stuff.

    • omawarisan says:

      Yeah, yeah, never mind your excuses. I want to know where you found yellow shoe polish.

      • Anonymous says:

        I go to this store that has everything you could ever want in yellow. You must be a clown or retired clown to enter and make purchases. Let me know if you want anything in yellow.

  7. Oh you poor thing. It’s a wonder you turned out so normal…well…I mean it’s all relative. How normal can we be if we write blogs and tell the world about our idiosyncracies (or is that just me?) (did I even spell that right?)

  8. Well now I’m feeling a little bit awful about a mean comment I made a while back. Really, I had a specific clown in mind. If you could just do me a favor and say something snarky about Elvis costumes, I’d be much ‘bliged.

    P.S. Cake decorators and federal agents are among my favorite people. Honest.

  9. Is this where the juggling came from?

  10. Laura says:

    Your mom is a professional cake decorator? You must have had the best birthdays.

  11. Sonja L. Smith says:

    Sooooooo, was that really your Dad who fell off the unicycle in the parade.

  12. My Odd Family says:

    Maybe if they told you they would have to kill you…and over the years they have become attached to you…I can see how that might happen. Kind of…..

  13. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story!

  14. Debbie says:

    Oh, wow, I’d have never guessed. Perhaps if I’d met such attractive, normal-looking people in clown suits when I was a kid, I wouldn’t still be terrified of clowns! Can’t wait to hear how this one turns out!

  15. Horsedonkeymulezebra says:

    I can confirm all of this to be true, being the younger brother mentioned above. I also have a few of the answers, but I won’t reveal them at this time, since you obviously have more to say on the subject and I don’t want to step on your story.

    Of course, for me, this occurred precisely during the standard “Everything my parents do is horribly embarassing” mid-teen years. And I was just getting over the unexplained Transendental Meditation incident from several years prior. (Out of absolutely no-f-ing-where, Mom decided the entire family was taking up Transendental Meditation – and even stranger, Dad said “Okay, good idea”… I’ll start a blog soon to explore this more)

    But please, continue with the story…

    • You’re making this up, aren’t you? That’s a photo of a really sweet couple from Stockphotos.com and any minute now Ashton Kutcher is going to Tweet “punk’d”. I just know it.

      • omawarisan says:

        Ha ha ha, the TM thing!

        No no, those aren’t stock parents. They’re the deluxe ones.

        • So, before they were clowns, they were hippies? Fascinating. 🙂

          • mikegee64 says:

            Oh, no…. No one could ever mistake them for hippies by any stretch of the imagination. It’s difficult to come up with a suitable analogy to illustrate how odd the TM decision was. I think Gary Larson illustrated it best in The Far Side cartoon where a bunch of lions are chowing down on the carcass of an antelope they just killed. One of the lions has his head poked up and says “You know what? I feel like a salad”

            So imagine, the late 70’s, a pair of good, upstanding, Catholic school raised and scarred individuals suddenly deciding “Hey, let’s dive head first into Indian Sprituality. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi… now HE looks like someone I should listen to and could learn from!”

            This came completely out of left field. It’s not like Mom and Dad were big Beatles fans, India never came up in conversation in our house until that very moment. If you were to ask me, (I was about 12 at the time), I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where India was or even if it was a real place.

            Anyway, we didn’t actually go to India to study TM. We went to a restored brownstone in Old Towne Alexandria, Virginia. The instructor’s name was “Clay Potts” which I found hilarious, and that was the beginning of the end.

            Just a word of advice to all: If you have a 12 year old son who is pre-disposed to getting severe cases of the “church giggles”, do not take him to learn TM. Do not introduce him to someone named Clay Potts, and do not let him drop a Tic Tac on the floor under the chair of the person in front of him, do not let that person move their feet in a way that they hit the Tic Tac and send it spinning wildly across the hardwood floors. All of these things will send the 12 year old son into fits of laughter that he is barely able to contain. No amount of “Mom Death Stares” can cure the church giggles, let alone the TM giggles.

            At one point, Clay Potts’ voice cracked. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom where I laughed like a madman for the rest of the half hour.

            • where I laughed like a madman for the rest of the half hour. Kind of like I’m doing now. I have tears in my eyes — literally.

              It’s ok. I’m not really a hippie, either. 😉

  16. marblesock says:

    This story is so good, it is even worth having to log in to WordPress in order to be allowed to comment. You have the world’s coolest parents!

  17. spencercourt says:

    Everybody loves a clown!

  18. […] My Parents Are Clowns – The Beginning. […]

  19. […] last part of a series that started here. A bowl of pork and beans. You'll understand why later. (Photo credit: […]

  20. Takes me back. When I was 16 my grandmother dragged us to her moose lodge all the time. My brother and I at one point got to go to clown school. My sisters wanted nothing to do with it. Lol

  21. […] up as the son of clowns had its share of challenges. I did quite a bit of writing about what it was like to go through the high school years with parents… But I’m not here to tell you about those old days. This is about something more […]


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