When I was in preparatory school the circus came to Jamaica. I was ecstatic when one of my mother's friends offered to take my brother and me when she was taking her niece. We got dressed and my mom told me to sit inside while I waited. I apparently did not take her seriously and I was soon at the fence talking to my friend next door - more than likely boasting about going to the circus.
My mother did not take kindly to being disobeyed, no matter what my reason. Needless to say, I did not go to the circus that night - or any other night. Since then, I have been haunted by images of spellbinding acrobatics, death defying feats performed by animal trainers and the captivating voice of a pudgy ring master announcing thrilling big-top acts. When a friend offered me her extra tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus I jumped at the chance to go, and to take my two young sons. I was finally going to see the circus.
Then I went to the circus. Some fantasies are not meant to be realized; the dream is too often better than the reality. I don't think I have been so disappointed since my college graduation present turned out to be a PDA and not a car.
Not once, while I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic heading to Newark two nights ago, did it occur to me that the show I had been waiting to see for more than 20 years would not meet my expectations. I never thought I was in for hours of mindless prancing about, Cirque du Soleil rejects and the un-funniest clowns I have ever seen. Who knew elephants were so stinky and that show horses crap in the ring?
After paying $20 for parking, $40 for useless light-up toys, $26 for two orders of chicken fingers and fries and two bottles of water - and passing on the $15 sno-cones - the best sight of the evening for me was not in the ring. It came when I saw my son's eyes lit, bright and big as he watched Joanna the white tiger stand on her hind legs and dance with her trainer. If you don't get to see the circus as a child, then you should get to see the wonder of the circus in a child's eyes.