Forget church, this was a communion of clowns! The penny arcade where their meetings resided was cloaked in a blanket of dusty age. In the corner sat a derelict Zoltar: rust highlighting the wrinkles around his mouth. Although the floorboards creaked under the weight of unseen ghosts and the walls sagged with childhood gone-by, the clowns had made this their headquarters and on this particular day it was packed to the brim with passive-aggressive smiles and frizzy wigs. All of the members of the Clown Cult of Colorado (the CCC) were gathered for the annual elections for a new cult leader and this year there was a new candidate. . . In the childlike chatter none of the jesters noticed the highheeled clown shoes stepping onto the podium. And then a hush fell over the clowns and for the first time in the history of the CCC, a woman had run for the position of cult leader.
Shortly after the entrance of the female clown, the longstanding cult leader, Reese stumbled onto the podium. The impatient decipholes twiddled their thumbs and picked their yellow teeth while Sally spoke of progressive clowns for a better future and Reese rambled about the same ol’ shabang of “Make clowns great again!”.
“I don’t know ’bout you,” began Reese in his dry voice, “but I don’t want to see some lady take over the manly position of cult leader. I promise that I, as cult leader, will make clowns great again by enforcing the oldie but goodie ways of tradition. I promise you I will build a wall that keeps girls in their place, away from the politics of men.”
As Reese finished his crescendo, he staggered over to Sally where he proceeded to grab her bold, red nose. The crowd hissed with surprise.
“Is it because I’m a woman that you feel entitled to grab my nose?!” Sally shouted.
“Slow down there, little lady. There will be no shouting in this debate,” scolded the debate facilitator. Meanwhile, Reese’s press secretary quickly made his way onto the stage and began to stutter excuses.
“In Reese’s defense, Ms. Gaylord was wearing extremely suggestive clothing. That low-cut, ruffled clown shirt and the prominent cherry nose are enough to get her attention from males who have the best intentions.”
As the balding press secretary continued creating justifications for Reese’s behavior, Sally’s face gradually turned the color of her nose. After taking on the appearance of a flustered tomato, Sally burst into a speech, breathless with rage, “Progressive clowns for a better future are not complacent when it comes to the topic of women clowns rights. I, as clown cult leader will stand firmly against the degrading onslaught of gender inequality and I will expect you, as cult members, to speak out against prime examples of the patriarchy, as can be seen in Reese’s horrific display of a condescending nature.”
After her statement had drawn to a close, the somewhat illiterate cult members were forced to count on their fingers the pros and cons of each candidate. As each clown left the stale air of fleeting childhood, they deposited their ballot (written primarily in Crayon), into an oversized piggy bank.
Over the next several days, the energy around the peeling paint of the arcade was alive with the reverberation of nervous laughter. Then, several clown weeks later (which, considering the inefficiency of clowns, was quite fast), the votes were counted.
Again all of the clowns were assembled in the cult headquarters. There was a rampage of honks, squeaks, and clown-calls as the announcer of the new cult leader cleared his throat.
“The winner, by a meager three votes, is. . . Sally Gaylord! Welcome her to the esteemed position with a clap, a commotion, and a big heap of clownly chivalry!”
At this announcement, Reese’s gape of expectancy turned immediately into a frown of such childlike disappointment, that made the resident sad clowns get a tear in their eye. While Reese fell into a pit of crippling depression, Sally took part in the honorary custom of saying the Clown Code of Chivalry, holding her left hand up, she recited:
“I, as a birthday clown and funeral clown, pledge to live by gayness and for hilarity. I, as a fair clown, will despise poor reward and obey those giving me money. It is my mission to fight for the laughter of all. And it is my duty to guard the honor of my red nose and respect the honor of birthday girls. I, as a prophet of jokes, aim to eschew tears, sadness, and frowny faces. I, as a fun maker and joy seeker, pledge these virtues of the freelance clown and will live by this code, this Clown Code of Chivalry, each and everyday of my thriving clown life.”
The final ‘cherry on the Shirley Temple’ was the tradition of bestowing the clown car into the sticky hands of the new cult leader. In a procession, the stampede of clowns followed Sally in her moment of victory, to the awaiting Ferrari: shining fluorescent orange in the bleaching Colorado sun.
Contorting herself into the driver's seat, Sally drove off with a final, “Cheerio clowns!”
The cult members went back into their woebegone dwelling to give Reese his treatment of failure. Gathering in a large circle around his dejected form, they all began to shout and point, exclaiming, “Sad clown!” By the end of the scolding, Reese’s makeup was smeared and his tried and true smile had become runny with tears.
Even further embarrassment ensued when he was forced to ride the bus and wear the humiliating sign of, “Sad clown, do not touch”. Yet one day, months after his ex-clown-unication, as Reese was riding the dingy RTD, Sally pulled up next to him in her shiny Ferrari clown car. At the sight of the unshaven, unsmiling Reese she proceeded to pull a rainbow colored handkerchief from her sleeve, which only got caught in the steering wheel. Exaggeratedly, Sally attempted to untangle herself, but only got more caught in the bedazzled spider web of chatschik clown joke.
As she became more and more entangled in the array of colors the faintest hint of a smile spread across Reese’s face. And then he realized he wasn’t a sad clown.