Saturday, July 11, 2009


Today was a day that can only be described as perfect.  I generally do not set my expectation meter to "perfection" and tend, instead, to just roll with the punches hoping for the best.  But today I was excited beyond my usual hopes for a cool outing with my godson.  I'd been talking about this day for weeks and he'd been shrugging his shoulders with doubts about the "cool factor" I was explaining.

We were going to the circus-- Ringling's Bros. and Barnum & Bailey-- "the greatest show on earth",  and I was beyond jazzed about the idea.  The last time I attended a circus I was 14 years old.  And I didn't actually attend it, I was in it.  It was for a big annual, high school fundraiser.  At the time, a student's family actually owned a real traveling circus and they put on a "big show" each year to raise to money for the PTA.  

Back then, the family circus recruited students from the local dance studio to participate in the show and I was one of those student dancers.  It was supposed to be a big honor to be involved as either a "showgirl" or a "featured extra" that worked alongside the professionals.  Me?  I didn't feel so "honored".  The whole thing made me very nervous.  I didn't like the idea of being in front of the entire town in a leotard or anywhere near the elephants.

For my big circus debut, I was one of the featured girls on the "web" which is basically a rope that hung from the ceiling-- way, way, way, up at nose bleed height.  Oh, and did I mention I'm mortified of heights?  The rope had a small loop on it.  I'd hang from the loop by my wrist or (gulp) my ankle and a guy on the ground would spins me around at an ungodly speed while I did "tricks" until I nearly vomited.  We did a routine to the old song "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" followed by me practically kissing the sawdust-covered ground every time I was finished performing.

In a nutshell, let's just say my folks didn't have to worry about me running off to join the circus.  How I overcame my fear of heights and did a pretty good job, at age 14 and scared out of my wits, remains a mystery to this day. Anyway, that was my last circus experience. 

Oh what I would give to have a picture of me spinning on that rope!  My husband still thinks I'm making it all up, but Scouts honor, it's true.

So today we were on our way to the "real" circus. Driving to the show, I tried to talk it up with my godson in the back seat but I could see from the rear view mirror that his anticipation was more for the cotton candy and popcorn than the clowns, tigers and tightrope walkers. 

His eyes got a little wider once we walked into Staples Center, clowns were bouncing around and people were selling some pretty cool souvenirs.  We made our way into the auditorium and then... then... then...  He saw the circus stage set where the Lakers usually play basketball, and I heard him gasp!  It was not at all what he expected! Things were starting to get very "cool".

Somehow the angels were on my side and we scored fabulous front row seats without any wires or equipment blocking our view.  Godson noted that we were pretty much in the same spot Jack Nicholson sits for the Lakers games.  Chalk up a few more "cool" points! 

Once we settled into our seats, I thanked gawd we didn't have to climb the stairs back up to the concession stands because they had people selling popcorn, cotton candy and fresh lemonade that came right to us so we could go on the floor/stage and mingle with the circus acts signing autographs and teaching kids how to juggle. Godson was loving it, until he looked around and remembered he's a "grown up" twelve year old and maybe this was for babies.   The "cool" factor diminished, but not for long. The clowns were working the crowd of all ages and soon all was right at the circus again.

When the show started, the noise was cranked up so stinking loud I thought for sure I was going to lose godson.  Loud noise is not his friend, as they say, but eventually things settled and that feeling of pounding in your chest from the noise subsided.  

The parade of animals and the entire cast made their way around the ring.  People were flying through the air on silk ribbons, costumes dazzled, elephants lead zebras that pranced while acrobats flipped and clowns played with the audience.   There were even a bunch of girls spinning on "the web" which godson pointed out to me with "No way you ever did that!" laughter.  Just before intermission, the Ringmaster made an elephant disappear right in front of us!  

When the lights came up during the break, godson couldn't wait to call his mom and tell her what a great time he was having, (All together now, Awww!) then we shopped for souvenirs and posed for pictures with clowns.

During the show, I had a few momentary OMG lapses of "those poor animals" and flashbacks to the wonderful book Water For Elephants trying to remember what the "in case of emergency song" the band would play if things went to hell in hand basket.  (Phew, they did not.)  But mostly I enjoyed watching godson mesmerized by the show and pointing out things that "I" shouldn't try at home.  You know, in case I ever considered shooting myself out of a cannon.

The next thing we knew, the show was over in a flash-- well, two hours, but over too soon nonetheless.  We gathered our belongings and started the hike up the stairs to the exits.  Half way up, godson stopped and turned back around towards the stage for one last long, slow, look, from top to bottom....

Then he squeezed my hand and said "I love this day!"

It was a perfect day that I will hold in my heart forever.

What's your idea of a perfect day?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. Those are wonderful moments to have. I also read "Water for Elephants" and, definately have mixed feelings about the circus.

    Glad you're in the "cool zone" with your Godson.

  2. I don't think I've ever been to the circus. It is definitely on my To Do list this year.

    The Staples center already had a circus this week! :)

  3. wow! That truly would make anybody's day!!
    My grandfather used to be the one to take us to the circus. I still remember those days!! They were something else!!
    I really do wish you had a photo of you spinning from the ceiling! :D

  4. It sounds like you both had a blast and your right it was a perfect day. My idea of a perfect day is whenever I am surrounded my special loved ones and we all are just caught up in whatever it is we are doing...just being together and happy.

  5. I would love for you to have a photo of you spinning. I think it is safe to say we all would.

  6. Sounds like a fabulous day, one that your godson will remember for a long time. I hope you took pictures this time so that when he is 18 and 'super cool' you will have evidence that he loved the circus!

  7. You are so cool Joanna, you had not just, been to Rome to see the Pope, you had joined the circus!

    I want to bring you chocolate.

  8. I just love the circus too Joanna - what a wonderful day you shared together...xv

  9. That was a wonderful read! Thanks! My idea of a perfect day is any day that's a memory maker - be the memory big or small.

  10. I've only been to the circus once and it wasn't the Ringling circus - not near the event you have described. It sounds incredible, and I love that he loved it!

  11. "raindrops keep falling.." as high wire music is tragically funny. love what the circus does to kids...the look in their eyes as they are transported into forgotten dreams...any day with my fam is perfect.

  12. You have SOOOO many cool stories, it's unbelievable.
    You were IN the circus!!!!

    If I didn't live on the other side of the large pond, I would just love to sit and listen to you speak about your experiences. I don't think I'd ever get bored!

  13. Oh, my little ones would LOVE an experience like this! Alas, my oldest is violently opposed to the circus on philosophical grounds, so we never go... :(

    So glad you both had a blast!

  14. That sounds like a fantastic day, I can't imagine one better :o)

  15. What a wonderful memory gift you gave to him and shared with us. WOW, I can't imagine EVER doing what you did in the circus. OMG. I wish you had pictures of it too. Will you share any pictures of this last trip to the circus? I've never been to one and you're making me wish that one would come in town!

  16. What a priceless moment. Children just have a way of summing up the moments in life that should be remembered. I love the circus too. I particularly love the trapeze artists. Glad you had such a good time!

  17. DAMMIT! It's my birthday, did you not get the memo??? It's my birthday and you are NOT supposed to make me cry on my birthday! Snarky Sister Handbook page 10 says so very clearly. Go get it and read it now; I will wait here.

    Damn, Sister that is the most awesome thing that you

    I hate the circus...well mostly it's the clowns I hate. And the elephants are smelly even though they are wise. Like a lot of things is life.

    But, I'd go with you. And we'd have a great time. Most likely, I'd hold your hand, and say, "I love this day!"

    This is fab.

  18. You're making think I need to take the crew to the circus and I am trying to ignore that feeling BIG TIME!

  19. What a wonderful day! It made me smile just reading about it.

    I loved the circus as a kid, but the clowns always creeped me out. They still do, actually!

    I understand feeling torn about the performing animals. I felt that way when we went to the rodeo in Kansas.

  20. AWWW! This really touched my heart. My perfect day is spent with my grandson that is just two and my only grandchild. I can't wait to share something like this with him. I loved your story and know how you feel. Thanks for your comments on my blog. I would love to have your comments on my most recent post about healthcare. Thanks again.

  21. Oh how sweet him saying he loved this day :-) That is awesome has been a while for me at the circus!
    Kudos for you hanging up there, no way I could do that...scared of heights too. I once was brave and took 6 kids (not any mine) to the circus..don't think I could do that now..LOL I was younger then

  22. Oh you definitely brought back memories for me. My dad worked at the Forum where the Lakers used to be before the Staples Center so as kids, we got to see all of the Ice Capades, Circuses (is that a word?) Disney on Parade, Globetrotters and Lakers games. Being backstage was the coolest.

    You just scored big with your godson. He will never ever forget that day. I'm sure you've taken plenty of pictures but knowing that he went to sleep with the circus dancing around in his head is so sweet!

  23. Nothing I've ever done could top your day. Most excellent!

  24. GOOD LORD!!! You never stop amazing me!!! I circus star to boot!!

    Water for Elephants was such a good book. My daughter got it for me a couple of years ago. I'd never heard about it before and you are the only other person who has mentioned it since.

    I felt like I was right there with you in reading your story.

  25. wow...for your circus debut.

    It's lovely, your day with your 12 yr old godson, because kids grow up so fast.

    My idea of a perfect day is when everyone has a great time like you just did, often something you can't totally plan.

  26. That's the kind of day we all live for. Thanks for sharing. Wonderful post.



  27. You brought back so many memories. Good and bad....
    But your day sounded perfect, I agree!!

  28. You are right, sounds like a perfect day! My idea of a perfect day is time spent with my grandchildren.

  29. How precious! I got all teary-eyed thinking that you are the coolest Godmom, ever and he'll probably remember that day for the rest of his life. He's very lucky to have you!!

    I can't believe you were in the Circus. What HAVEN'T you done? You amaze me more with each post!!


  30. You got an "I loved this day" from a 12-year-old boy? That's beyond perfection!

    Dedene over at Soyez Bienvennue Chez Moi did a post on circuses today -- her nephew has been in circus school (in France) for the past week and performed yesterday.

    How the blog world draws things together....

  31. It sounds like perfection to me. So glad it was!


  32. Sounds like a great day, a day that both of you will remember for a long time. My best part was at the end. When he stopped turn back to look one more time and squeezed your hand. Wasn't it the frosting on an already good cake?! xoxo

  33. Wow! What a great memory! I don't think I have ever been to a circus quite like that. Sounds like a wonderful day!

  34. There were even a bunch of girls spinning on "the web" which godson pointed out to me with "No way you ever did that!" laughter. I'm impressed that he paid attention to your story.


    "My husband still thinks I'm making it all up, but Scouts honor, it's true" because very rare to meet someone like you been there and done that.

    Perfect you :)


Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.