My Parents Are Clowns: Always Check The Back Seat

Always check the back seat. (image via

The second in a series of posts about growing up with clown parents. The series starts here.

So my normal adolescence was shaken to its foundation by finding out that the people who I admired (and still admire) most were going to make a change in their lives. They were going to become clowns.

Decades later, I understand as much about my parents’ conversion to clowning as I did the first night I watched them head off to clown school. When they came home that night, discussing the types of clowns and considering their clown names, I understood that they were not joking. They were not joking, and I had a problem.

Like A Band-Aid

It seemed the best approach was to just go to my friends and tell them directly. I’d just do it quickly, like pulling off a band-aid. Over the course of the next week or so, I let people know. I told the tale of the strangeness in my house in the school cafeteria, at track practice and at my job at Ziggy’s Pizza.

The reaction surprised me. People didn’t run away. They listened with empathy. They said “I’m so sorry”, but I knew from the looks on their faces that what that meant was “I’ve never been more glad to not be you than I am at this moment”.

Over the course of several weeks, my parents went off to clown school twice a week. They put a lot of work into it. They took their studies very seriously, if such a thing can happen given the topic. And when the school ended, they invited my brother and me to graduation.

Pomp And Uhhhhh…..Ummmmmm….Oh, I Don’t Know

Yes, clowns graduate. Clown graduations are kind of nice. The speeches are much shorter. And I was there for my parents big strange day, with my brother and my friends. These new clowns looked after me and attended school events for years. I wasn’t going to miss the chance to do the same for them.

At one point, the instructor clown called my folks’ names. They got up and did a little skit. I wish I remembered what the skit was about, but all I can say is that it was very clowney. They worked hard and looked happy. That fact made it a fun thing to see.

It was fun, but strange. We all have our reactions to clowns. Some like them, some don’t. I can tell you that whatever your reactions to clowns are, seeing clowns that use the same voice and speech patterns as the people who say things like “did you mail your college application?” is a little confusing.

Fun, but strange and confusing only scratches the surface of the sensations of growing up with clown parents.

Advice For Young Men Who Might Be Similarly Situated

I kept moving through the last years of high school and the first of college. At the same time, my parents continued growing as clowns.

They put a lot of effort into what they were doing. When my dad was off on the weekend, they were always at hospital or some charity function. I’d wake up late on a Saturday morning and find them dressing. Off they’d go in the car, big clown hair poofy and pressing the ceiling.

Yes, they drove where they were going as clowns. They didn’t have a tiny car, it was an Oldsmobile. For the safety conscious among us, let me assure you that clowns in my family did not drive with their big shoes on. My parents kept theirs in the back seat.

Some day, a young man will find himself in a similar position to the one my brother and I were in. He will search the net and find this series. If you are that young man, I’ve one piece of advice for you:

When you borrow your parents car for dates, always, always check the back seat of the car for clown shoes.

In the next edition, my parents fire up the research and development department


22 Comments on “My Parents Are Clowns: Always Check The Back Seat”

  1. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    I must be the odd man out, as a kid & even a teen… well, maybe by late teens… I think I would have thought that your parents being clowns was awesome. Ha ha.

    • omawarisan says:

      The thing is, once they actually did it, it was pretty cool because they were so happy doing it. At the outset, I was pretty sure it was the beginning of the end.

  2. I love the image of you seeing them off on their first day of clown school and then proudly watching them at graduation. That’s good writing right there.

    The way you employ the back seat rule to effect suspense is similarly deft, if unsettling. Even though I know there’s a happy ending. Bad things happened to the clown in Zombieland.

    I want to laugh and I’m afraid at the same time.

    • omawarisan says:

      “That’s good writing right there”. Wow, thank you!

      If I ever get a tattoo, I am going with “Deft, Yet Unsettling”.

    • Betty says:

      Hipster, you and Thoughtsy have me totally hooked on Zombieland. I’ve probably watched it a half dozen times in the last three months and that’s all I could think of as I read this: the check-the-back-seat-rule and the clown at the end.
      Oma, a former co-worker of mine was raised by professional clown parents (they earned their living as clowns from the time she was a toddler) and she grew up to be the most miserable, negative person I’ve ever met. Clearly you took the other route.

  3. When I am laid to rest, I would like for someone to say of me that I always continued growing as a clown. There is no higher praise.

  4. Todd Pack says:

    I love that your parents were clowns. Clowning is hard and noble work. I am a little disappointed to know they drove an Olds, though. Clowns shouldn’t drive big cars.

  5. Debbie says:

    Aw, sweet that you and your brother supported their endeavor! Must have been a bit odd, though, since not too many other kids’ parents would have been clowns (and we all know how teens want to fit in with their peers!)

  6. robincoyle says:

    The visual of their hair pressing the ceiling of the car is priceless.

  7. God, you’re so lucky you weren’t a teenage GIRL. They don’t like parents as a general rule. Add clown hair and a big rubber nose…

  8. Lenore Diane says:

    I’m late, I’m late – I know, I know. My apologies.
    Call me crazy (everyone else does), but I like the idea of my parents becoming clowns. Of course, my parents did not become clowns, so maybe this is why I like it – rather, I like the idea of it. Anywho … while clown dolls creep me out, real clowns make me happy. The sad clowns don’t make me happy. They make me sad. That makes sense right?
    I’m sorry. What was the question?

  9. […] My Parents Are Clowns: Always Check The Back Seat ( […]

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