By Ray Knapp
The recent rash of clown sightings coupled with news reports of someone dressed as a clown trying to lure children into the woods has forever, and henceforth, changed the way we view clowns. They had a word for fear of clowns even before this came into the spotlight: Coulrophobia- an irrational fear of clowns. The prefix “coulro” comes from the ancient Greek word for “one who goes on stilts.” Symptoms of coulrophobia can include sweating, nausea, feelings of dread, fast heartbeat, crying or screaming, and anger at being placed in a situation where a clown is present.
I can’t say that I have that phobia, but overall I’m not too fond of the boogers. I’ve attended a circus or two where they arrive at the center of the arena in a tiny car and come spilling out with mammoth feet as high-pitched, squeals emanate from their frightful noses. Scarier still, these creatures tend to travel in tight clusters; you await the whole group, expecting them to head right at you like a pack of hyenas, laughing as they roll towards you, turning handsprings in their rush to be first to get there and gobble you up. – Okay, maybe I do have coulrophobia.
They remind me some of Shopping Mall Santa Clauses. How many pictures have you actually seen of children looking up at Santa in adoration – or even smiling at him for that matter? Pogonophobe, which means fear of beards, is the closest I could come to a phobia for Santa Claus, and most children below the age of 5 or 6 have it. The pictures you usually see are a child actually pushing back from this strangely dressed man. With cell phones being able to take short movies, I’m sure there will be YouTube posts of kids kicking and screaming to get away from Santa this Christmas.
In general, I’m not too fond of masks anyway. Well, it’s okay for heroes, like the Lone Ranger and Batman to wear masks, but not outlaws. In the distant past when servicemen were not paid enough to support a family, I supplemented that income with part time jobs. I worked at a 7-Eleven store in Atlanta for awhile and was robbed twice. The first time, a couple of men came in with bandanas covering up to the bridge of their nose, like outlaws in old western movies. I laughed and said, “You guys look just like robbers!”
I quit laughing when one of them jabbed a .45 into my ribs and demanded all the money. The only saving face I got out of that was from an arrogant customer that came up to the counter in the middle of the robbery and rudely stated he was in a hurry and wanted to be waited on right now! When the robber waved the gun in his face, he had a quick attitude change. “Oh, please don’t shoot me,” he wailed, “Here’s my billfold.”
Neither of us were shot, but I took some small pleasure in knowing the rude customer was even more scared than I was. I’ve not liked masks of any sort since that night. And after the second robbery, I decided mowing lawns was much safer and paid more than the minimum wage working at that store.
With Halloween approaching, I’m sure there will be more than a few nuts that think clown costumes will be just the thing – considering all the media attention they’ve been getting lately. I’m almost certain some of those clowns will be arrested, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some homeowner, or policeman shoots one of those jokers when they take their actions to an apparent unsafe level. I know if I were still working as a store clerk, there would be a sign on the entrance door. “No Clowns Allowed.” Or, maybe, “Clowns Enter at Your own Risk – Clerk is Armed and Dangerous.”
Clowns should find another line of work. With me having coulrophobia, that would be just fine. After all, I don’t like nausea, feelings of dread, fast heartbeat, crying or screaming from being placed in a situation where a clown is present.