November 19, 2008

The Sideshow Grinds On

(I don't mean to double post for this blog today, but the Wolves did win, which can give some of you regulars a brief smile. But this has been brewing and I have to beat Dave to it)

I can write this in the grandstands, surrounded by eager audience members. They are all enjoying the entertainment in the center ring as they usually do. None of them know why I am here or what notes I'm taking. It's just that, as they stare at the lion and other acts in the ring...I'm looking off to the side. There's a show to the side, despite the little attention it draws. I wonder if anyone else is noticing this act. I'd say a snarky comment to someone near me, but it's fairly clear that they aren't looking at the sideshow. I fear I'll catch the eye of the sideshow's performers. We'll only lock eyes for a second - not even a moment - but that will do plenty. Much like the scene in The Warriors when the disco prom kids get on the train, our shared view of each other says more than a string of words ever could.

Fried foods and an overall toxic atmosphere surrounded your writer when I was at the circus the other night. It was during a rare miscue for the center ring. I brought up the sideshow, just to see what they'd say. Of course, they had NO thoughts. They aren't interested (and larger groups of people pretending to be interested) in anything else but the center ring.

The sideshow has been right there every year the circus has been in town. This decade, it's been right next to the center ring. It's closer by location though, not by talent. I often wonder if those in the sideshow feel any guilt. Perhaps there is a weather-beaten pride that exists that someone IS watching and that someone does care. This is a lonely feeling, I can only guess. They aren't getting paid in this circus to fail or to not entertain. Instead they are getting paid while poorly doing their job. And so, before the circus came to town this year fanfare was made - the "ringmaster" (something that deserves quotes for a sideshow if anything ever has) was removed from his duties. This hardly seems like the big solution, or the one thing preventing those in the sideshow to move to the center ring. (Or take it over, when you consider the owner of the sideshow is more concerned that you purchase a high rise condo in a nowhere neighborhood because there's "only 85 left!" and they're "priced to sell!")

Just watching failure makes anyone uncomfortable. It can be avoided: channel changed, eyes away or closed. It's selfish to say "I'm going to pay attention to the circus, maybe even go a few times, once it's good." But the center ring and the sideshow owe you nothing unless you have paid your own money to see the entertainment in person. Strange, isn't it, that I can find very little news about the sideshow. There's no travelling writer for the sideshow in the largest newspaper where this circus calls home. There is also no "blog" in this paper's website for the sideshow. As a matter of fact, the news of a stupendously unimpressive feat of strength in a barnstorming town received little fanfare. This newspaper printed an anonymous story from the Associated Press.

Whenever the weather gets colder (and we're told it will, eventually and for only a brief period) it is fair for this prognostication: the sideshow will remain a curio. It will be left to its own and ignored. Not out of shame, but indifference. Like that grocery store you visit because it's so odd, knowing full well they won't have what you need. I plan on giving sideshow reports from time to time. This will occur only so I shall remember that it exists at all.

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