Circus

Circus: (n) a traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that gives performances, typically in a large tent

I’m about to break one of my own cardinal rules when it comes to writing.

I don’t mention too many “pop culture” references from the past because they’re irrelevant to the majority of the people who read my blogs.
. But when I saw the word “circus,” my mind went to only one place.

When I was a kid I was portly. (Now, this is a “grandma word” used to describe a fat boy.)

I fell in love with a TV show called “Circus Boy.” I can’t tell you much about it but there was a little kid just my age, with blond hair just like mine, blue eyes–the same–and he was part of a circus. He walked around wearing an adorable hat which might cause the worst cynic to beam a smile.

I loved that show.

So one day when shopping with my parents, I noticed they were selling a replica of Circus Boy’s hat. Oh, my God–I begged. I pleaded with my parents to get the it for me. It must have been very reasonable because they didn’t quibble.

I never took it off. My greatest joy was that when people saw me in the hat, they often commented, “He looks kinda like Circus Boy.”

It was almost like I was a leper and Jesus had just touched me.

One day I was in the grocery store with my mom and dad and a man and woman came up and the lady said, “Is this your son?”

My mother nodded with pride. Then the lady said it. “You know, he really looks like ‘Circus Boy.'”

I was about to explode with a huge smile and share with her that “Circus Boy” was my favorite show on TV when the man piped in, “Yeah, kind of. Except he’s fat.”

The earth stood still.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t look in any direction without seeing human beings who needed to be far away from me at that moment.

I turned on my heel and ran out of the store, wedging myself against the back of a Coke machine in a corner, crying.

You see, the guy wasn’t mean. Just matter-of-fact.

It was such “matter-of-fact” that even I knew it was true.

To this day, “circus” brings up “Circus Boy,” which stirs a memory of my fondness for the show, circulating images of the hat I wore, pretending–but deep in my heart, knowing I couldn’t be him.

I was too … portly.

 

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Brontosaurus

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brontosaurus: (n) a large herbivorous dinosaur

In my silly brain, dinosaurs are like God.

What I mean is, they seem so unlikely that it’s hard to believe they actually existed.Dictionary B

I have gone to an African wildlife reserve and seen elephants and giraffes, which are quite impressive, but still plausible in size. The notion that there was a creature on Earth that covered half a city block is a little bit far-fetched.

But also like God, there is evidence that they were here and did roam about, leaving behind “bones for contention.”

But I’ve always favored the Brontosaurus.

So practical. Big long neck for reaching up in the trees to eat his fill, but never getting to the end of a maple tree luncheon and going, “Not quite full. I’d like to eat me a fat boy.”

They really stuck to that herbivore thing. Not like me–who becomes a vegetarian du jour, only to reject it at the first sniff of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The Brontosaurus stayed with plants.

So it’s my thought that they hung around longer than the T-Rex and the raptors.

Yes, they were around on Earth by themselves, so they could enjoy their salads … and not smell meat farts.

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Boat

Boat: (n) a small vessel propelled on water

Dictionary B My dad liked to hunt and fish.

He was not a “manly man,” but discovered his inner macho with rod, reel and rifle.

My older brothers quickly learned that the best way to curry his favor or spend any time with him at all was to join him on one of these expeditions to seek out game.

I wanted to. He placed a rifle in my hand and set up some targets. I shot it and knocked over a few cans, so he felt confident to take me rabbit hunting.

Do you know how fast rabbits run?

I do.

Every time he set me up with a shot to kill a bunny, I would miserably miss, failing to anticipate the hair-brained escape pattern of the hare.

Fishing was much the same. At first I was a little frightened to put the worm on the hook–and then an additional problem came into the mix. Because I was a fat boy, the little boat my dad was able to afford did not sit well in the water when I sat on the seat. Matter of fact, I came near to sinking us with my “weighty matter.”

The motor didn’t work as well, and my dad wanted to scream at me about my blubber, but restrained himself so as to maintain a few vestiges of fatherhood.

What eventually transpired was that my dad made it a secret when he was going fishing or hunting, and I would never find out until he was long gone and my mother confessed his plans.

So there is a part of me that wishes my dad had been alive when the movie “Jaws” came out.

You remember the line, right?

“We need a bigger boat.”

 

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Bitch

Bitch: (n) a female dog, wolf, fox, or otter.

Dictionary B

Her name was Mrs. Calvert.

She was my seventh grade science teacher.

The reason I remember her name so well is that she was constantly telling people how to pronounce it, even though it was not particularly difficult to speak.

She also had another annoying practice. She decided, since I was a fat boy, that I had limited ability. So when she took the class to the science museum, she explained to me–in front of everyone else–that there was an elevator available if I didn’t feel I could climb all the stairs.

I was not only humiliated, but was targeted by my classmates for further ridicule.

It was devastating. She was a fat bigot.

But if you had asked her, she would have merely shared her concern for my well-being.

It is exactly the same way I think America handles gender.

We “Calvert” it.

Yes, just like Mrs. Calvert, we have privately decided what men and women can do, and if anyone tries to step out of their compartment and suggest otherwise, we have names for them.

If a man selects to be more sensitive and open to the female perspective, we view him as “pre-gay.” In other words, maybe not a part of the club, but sympathetic to the rules.

If a woman chooses to compete and be more aggressive, she is deemed to be a bitch.

Let me explain the full range of the use of the word bitch:

It can be “any woman who disagrees with a man” all the way through “any woman who insists on having equal rights.”

You can always tell when you’re in the presence of stupidity.

It is a group of people who find a nasty word to describe a whole bunch of folks so they don’t have to deal with the real issues.

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Beach

Beach: (n) a pebbly or sandy shore by the oceanDictionary B

Yet another illusion shattered for this traveling, hopeful vagabond.

As a boy, I dreamed of going to the ocean.

As a young man, I nearly lusted for the possibility of staring at the raging tide.

So as soon as I had enough gumption to start the engine of my beat-up car and point it eastward, I headed off to discover the wonders of the sea.

I arrived.

I got out of my car, adorned in what I considered my best beach wear, which really was a cut-off something-or-other, stepped onto the sand, and immediately noticed that I sank down, just a little bit.

I had seen movies where people walked on the beach. Some of them even ran. But for some reason, my stocky frame made the beach feel a little more like quicksand. So every step was twice as hard as walking on concrete, and therefore, in no time at all became discouraging.

Trying to overcome my disappointment, I attempted to jog so as to dispel the sense that the whole experience was a failure.

  • My knees started hurting.
  • My ankles soon joined
  • My legs were burning and aching.

And within about 25 yards, I fell to the ground, vanquished.

Then, to mock me, the tide was coming in and splashed in my face.

Still lying on the ground, I turned my head to the water. As the next wave gradually made its way in my direction, I thought I heard the froth giggle and say:

“Come back again, fat boy, when you aren’t so plump.”

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Ankle

dictionary with letter A

Ankle: (n.) the narrow part of the body, including a joint, between the foot and the calf.

During a six month period at age twenty, I sprained my ankle about five times. It was brought about by a natural imbalance.

I was a healthy, energetic and semi-athletic fat boy who believed I could move with the grace and ease of my skinnier counterparts, only to discover that my obesity played out whenever my ankle would step in the wrong direction and twist.

It made me so mad. I kept re-injuring the same ankle over and over again–my left one.

The first time I banged it up was caused by stepping down from a bus into a gopher hole, turning the ankle so badly that I was convinced that the bottom of my shoe touched my shin. Unfortunately, I had plans to go on a weekend trip which I refused to cancel, so when the ankle on my already-chubby leg grew to the size of a tree trunk, I insisted on walking on it and continuing my plans with friends, even though moving a mere twenty yards took me about thirty minutes.

I didn’t care. I was young, stubborn and determined to continue my quest for invincibility.

So the ankle tried to heal, and then because I went out to play football or shoot some hoops, it got bent again.

Honestly, I don’t know when it stopped being susceptible to injury, but somewhere along the line I must have rested it long enough to stop the onslaught of repetitive painfulness.

There are two parts of the human body that were never meant to be used for walking, running or actually any kind of upright position. One is the knee and the other is the ankle.

Sometimes when I look at that small region near the foot which is supposed to handle all of our weight, I think it’s a wonder we aren’t laid up in hospital beds … all the time.

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Acrobat

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAcrobat: (n.) an entertainer who performs gymnastic feats.

I had a flash-back.

When I was in high school, so many bronze ages ago, it was mandatory to take two years of physical education. I put them off until my junior and senior years. (I don’t know if I was hoping for a lazy state legislature to repeal the law, or perhaps that the gymnasium would collapse from the onslaught of a Midwest tornado, but I delayed.)

I was a big, fat boy. I liked to play sports until it became obvious that it was exercise. Does that make sense? In other words, if you wanted to go out and throw the football around or shoot some hoops, I was there. But if you were gonna line up and purposefully use your muscles in a way that produced exertion and perspiration with no immediate pay-off of sinking a basket or tackling a friend, well … I was rather non-enthusiatic.

ESPECIALLY during the six-week period of physical education when we did gymnastics.

I was no acrobat. I was the kind of person that if I slipped and fell down a hill, it actually appeared that there was a person falling uncontrollably down the hill, as opposed to gracefully tumbling and landing on my feet. Any motion that I took towards the ground ended up in a splat instead of a forward roll.

I hated it.

I tried to get out of it by insisting that my parents were too poor to afford my gym clothes. I even tricked my mom into giving me a note to give to the instructor, telling him that I was physically unable to perform the feats.

It was unsuccessful. Amazingly, these small-town educators saw through my ploys.

The most embarrassing part of it was the fact that there was no privacy. When it was time to tumble, we formed a line which ran in a perpetual circle, so that each person could come and tumble on the mat, regain his feet, and get back into line to do it again, until everybody had done at least FOUR of them.

Some guys were just great. They looked like human Slinkeys. I, on the other hand, looked like play-dough hitting the sidewalk on a very hot day. Rather than rolling, I kind of just spread out all over the mat.

So when I regained my feet, hearing the titters of my friends, I hung back in the line, hoping the teacher did not notice how many forward rolls I had accomplished before the whistle would blow for the next horror. Unfortunately, he preferred to wait until the end, leading me to believe I had pulled off my scam, making me perform my last two somersaults back-to-back, with the whole class reviewing, as if they were East German judges at the Olympics.

Honestly, as I retell this, I am not quite sure how I survived it without resorting to some sort of self-mutilation or abuse of my fellow-students.

But when I see the word acrobat, I have a mingling of great admiration and a chill that goes down my spine, remembering that torturous hour spent, for a six-week period, when my school insisted that I try to take my enormous body and  imitate a thirteen-year-old female gymnast.

Even though I could never approve and am certainly horrified when I hear about school shootings–when someone walks into his classroom and guns everybody down–honestly, I might be a little sympathetic if I found out it was a big fat kid and it was a Phys Ed class during the six weeks … of gymnastics.