It was a big day in the little village. Two sets of visitors showed up.
On one side of the street, an itinerant mattress vendor. All in all, a quiet stay.
On the other side of the street, a circus. It was a big one for our town. There’s a very small family circus that comes through in the spring, with just a couple of animals, and even the small kids of the family perform as clowns. The very young audience members love it because such little clowns aren’t scary and in their very protected lives they cannot imagine doing such outrageous things as performing.
I don’t know how these circuses survive, because they draw only a couple dozen spectators. Tickets for this one were €5 for children and €10 for adults, but the smaller circuses charge less. Can they even buy gas to get to the next town, let alone feed themselves and their animals?
We went to the circus during the magical years, even though the entire situation made me want to be an ostrich to not see how poor the performers were. Little ones see only the spectacle. Their eyes sparkle though the finery is faded and fake. Lucky them.
This circus had a bigger menagerie than some.
There was even a lion. I wasn’t going to the show, but I did pop by to see what state the lion was in. A male, with a big mane. That was all that was big about him. His ribs showed. He continued to sleep as I snapped. A family in a rickety rusty-white camionette pulled up. I guess the kids were in the back (probably without seats, and thus without seatbelts). They oohed and aahed over the lion.
“Is he big?” asked the children, around 6 and 8 years old.
“He’s enormous,” the mother said.
“One of the biggest I’ve ever seen,” the father assured them.
They happily moved on to examine the other animals.
I was glad that this family, who seemed as poor as the circus clan, were having an exciting morning. But I was sad they didn’t know that lions should look like this:
Anyway, for two days, the circus blasted music from early in the morning until their show started at 6 p.m. In another indication of their budget constraints, they had only a few, very dated songs. “Nuit de Folie” and “Gonna Fly Now” aka the theme song from the first “Rocky” movie played on repeat.
They were quiet at night, so whatever. Unfortunately, the wind was marin–which meant that the overripe odors of barnyard mixed with zoo wafted into the village.
They stayed six days. I dropped coins into the metal donation box for animal feed in front of the lion’s cage. They clanked in a way that made it clear there weren’t other coins in there. I don’t see how these folks earn a living with two shows in six days. Obviously that is just one of the many reasons I’m not in the circus business. Though some would argue…
What do you think? Little circuses are wonderful and quaint or an ambulatory PETA case?