i didn’t finish that book

I was watching a documentary the other night about where the Ringling Bros. Circus went in the winter back in the day.

Let me start again.

I was watching an episode of American Pickers the other night and they were talking about where the Ringling Bros. Circus went in the winter back in the day.

It was some little town in Florida. Some of them camped in this farmer’s field.

I had never really thought about that before. Where do circuses go when the weather turns cold?

We know the lion sleeps tonight in the jungle.

The mighty jungle.

But I just assumed when they left, they went to the next town. And the next.

You know, I wanted to join the circus when I was a kid. I guess I was around thirteen. On the road sounded good. Not in a Kerouac-ian way. Just in a… new people kind of way.

My town is pretty small. The people you start school with, are the people you finish school with. You’re probably going to the prom with a girl you heard sneezefart during silent reading time when you were eight.

I wanted to meet new girls. Every town. New girls finding me fascinating. Because at thirteen you feel that different is not always fascinating.

It didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t talk to women. Like with everything else, I figured I’d grow into it.

I’d roll into town, help set up the Tilt-a-whirl, and that’s when she’d spot me.

She’d introduce herself, wearing a summer dress. She’d explain that she’s the preacher’s daughter and just wants to have a little fun. You know, if Footloose has taught us anything.

That really made the circus lifestyle sound appealing.

I wasn’t down with the chain-smoking and tattoos, but I was onboard with the long hair and beards. I could even call women “darlin’.”

In time.

I thought about it a lot, as I stood there in my Bruce Springsteen concert T and jean jacket.

So every winter they’d head to this town.

Together.

Their own towns having run them out once, and not deserving a second chance.

They packed trailers. They piled in trucks.

And they drove.

CCR blaring.

Not sure why, but I hear CCR.

And I could have been with them.

My hand out the passenger side window of an old truck. Doing that thing, where you let the wind move your hand up and down. Like a snake.

Everything I owned stuffed into a duffel bag, filled with as many holes as memories.

Every mile we drive getting a little warmer.

Napping. Shooting the shit.

Bristling at nicknames you’re secretly proud to have earned.

That could have been me.

But it wasn’t.

I got into the back seat of my friend’s mom’s white Buick.

Instead of parts unknown, we headed for Dairy Queen.

I had a triple burger.

CCR came on the local AM station as we crossed the bridge to my little island.

I hoped that sneezefart girl would wear that red dress the next day.

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4 Responses

  1. Did you ever see the HBO show, Carnivale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carniv%C3%A0le)? Given your fascination with the circus, I highly recommend it.

  2. Marie Nicole says:

    In high school I could have been voted most likely to run away and join the circus. I believe it so much I bought the bracelet, then I needed the pin. But the thing is that my school didn’t do that kind of thing, vote people most likely to …something. So I didn’t get to earn the title of voted most likely to run away and join the circus, although it’s pretty much what I did. I ran away and joined a sprint car racing team. Ten months per year on the road chasing summer from state to state. In the winter, we wound up in Australia. Those were the days. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Jess says:

    There Is a great book out there called “The Circus in Winter.” its a collection of linked short stories and is me of my favorite books of all time. I suspect you would enjoy it too.

  4. Sid says:

    Ha! About a week ago I started reading “On the road”. Read a few pages and then discarded it in favour of “A clash of kings”. “A clash of kings” is the second novel in the George R.R Martin series, “A song of ice and fire”. The TV series “A game of thrones” is based on these novels.

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