Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Whatever You Do, Don’t Walk Too Close To The Chimp Cage…

I remember this was one of the first pieces of advice I got when I joined the circus. The chimps were part of a Mexican animal act, and they weren’t kidding. If I remember correctly I actually had to repeat the instructions to make sure the message got through. “They can rip your arms right out of the sockets.” Trust me – I didn’t have to be told twice.

It was a weird gig – a small circus for acts on their way down that traveled by truck through the deep south. Unless you were one of the ”featured” acts that is, in which case you traveled by Airstream. The ringleader was an alcoholic German gimp who walked with a cane. We’re talking authentic fringes of society here folks – I felt right at home. Drinking and smoking pot late at night in parking lots with the Vietnam vet and his juvenile elephant named “Baby Stony.” Hanging out and discussing philosophy and atheism with the ex-Franciscan Monk who lost his faith and joined the circus. Driving around with the band leader who had worked in Burlesque before that dried that up and he pivoted to the circus. A very surreal week in New Orleans spent with local “circus folk.” It was a very specific subculture with it’s own rules, codes of behavior, and language. I could write a short book about this episode in my life – adults only and not for the faint of heart…