At 5:11pm the speedometer shakes just under 45. No cop would ever pull over an ambulance driving 9 miles over the speed limit on Christmas day. The children will be ready for us in less than an hour. I still have to pick up Special Head before we meet the rest of the circus at the park. I suppress the urge to just flip the switch and turn the emergency light bar on. We’ll make it. Excitement stirs in my stomach overpowering the sleepy too much Christmas turkey feeling.
Special Head isn’t quite ready but it only takes a few moments to get him into gear. Danny is his real name. He recently became slightly famous for levitating on America’s Got Talent. To the television watching world he’s a magical guru but to me he’s just Danny, my old buddy who argued about toothpaste everyday as we traveled across Eastern Europe. My old slum lord and roommate. I can’t be too frustrated at him for moving slowly for this show. This buddy of mine can now make four figures for performing for camels in Qatar. Today he will only earn the wide eyes and smiles of a few children separated from family for Christmas.
Earlier on this morning Becky, the Wonderfool, texted, “Clay! Happy Xmas day. I am SICK!! I’m trying really hard to feel better cuz I really want to make Xmas show for kiddos… But right now the outcome is uncertain. 🙁 I’m trying but I don’t wanna puke on the kids. That’s not nice.” That would make for a poor show it’s true. But by 5:30 she has decided that she is no longer in the puking mood and will meet us at the park.
Everyone is slightly late except the New Tang Clan. Andre, Serena and their beautiful child Savon, a fiery 7 year old whose been playing the art of circus style acro-balance since birth. There are 8 of us scheduled for the show including the New Tang Clan, Special Head, Clay Mazing (me), Kelsey on stilts, and Zack and Becky: the Wonderfools.
Here’s the paragraph I shouldn’t add to this chronicle but will anyway. Zack and Becky started their clown troupe the Wonderfools while they were in love and working well together. They had a relationship that worked quite efficiently for quite some time but, as relationships tend to do sometimes, theirs began to deteriorate slowly until it became a better idea to drive it out to the dessert and let it go. Against all odds, they won the breakup game for a while and were able to maintain a working relationship as well as friendship. Although in the weeks leading up to Christmas there some sort of backlash occurred in their interaction and they began not speaking with one another. With the advent of this Emergency Circus show, however, they decided that they could, “for the children,” work together once again. I’ve taken the unification of the Wonderfools as a victory of the Emergency Circus.
We cram the stilts and folks into the Jambulance and arrive just barley late for the show at Casa De Los Ninos. It’s a locked down situation. They’ve seen our emergency vehicle pull up on the security cameras. I push the black square button on the intercom and state, “The Emergency Circus is here.” We’ve made it dressed as Christmas circus superheros. To entertain the ninos.
Casa de Los Ninos is Spanish for “house of the ninos.” For 40 years, Casa de los Niños has helped in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect in Tucson, Arizona. The residents here are children, separated from their families for whatever reason and cared for by loving workers and volunteers. We are not allowed to take pictures of the children for their own safety, which is a shame because their cuteness exceeds all explanation as they enter the playroom in pajamas depicting colorful superheros and princesses. Some timid; others visibly excited. One little blond girl of about five is crying uncontrollably. She doesn’t understand why Kelsey is so tall or what these odd strangers are doing at this foster care facility. Becky tries to reach out to her with her red telephone, simply two receivers connected by a spiraling cord. But she can’t take it and is carried out of the room by one of the older girls.
The rest of the children are eager for the show so we begin. “Hi Everybody, my name is Clay Mazing and we are the Emergency Circus. We came today because we heard there was no circus at Casa de Los Ninos for Christmas day!”
“What!” exclaims Becky with a gasp.
“So we came as soon as we could to show you guys some amazing and magical things. Are you ready for a circus?” Of course they are and scream accordingly. One kid jumps up randomly an goes straight to the center of the stage. I tell him to wait just a second for his big part and he sits down again. “Guess what kids?” I say. “We are superheros. Do you believe that?” Surprisingly, they do. “But not the kind of superheros you see in the movies. We weren’t given powers when we were born. We used our brains and our bodies to give ourselves amazing superpowers. Like Kelsey there. She is super tall because she learned how to stand on to long sticks. Now she’s the tallest woman in the world. Because she decided to be. All our superpowers and more can also be yours if you also focus on something. You have super powers inside of you waiting to be practiced and perfected. And we are going to show you some now.”
Some of the kids are kind of getting the message but it doesn’t really matter. We aim to inspire but also to entertain. The show starts with Bee Bones, the band that everyone in the entire world is in. I ask for the most beautiful creature in the entire universe inside and out. That same boy who jumped up earlier shoots his hand up immediately. I choose him to play Love. Then dress up other children as the sun, the ocean, and me. Then sing the song for them to act out. The kid playing me is very good at pretending to swim through the ocean of waving child hands. The coattails I put on him touch the ground by his feet and his hands disappear beneath the sleeves as he continuously uses them to keep my top hat from swallowing his whole head.
The kids return to their places on the carpet before Zack Tastic takes the carpet to show his super hat juggling powers. The kid who played Love begins to gush laughter like a broken water main and doesn’t quit for the duration of the show. Squeeling glee overtakes the room forcing smiles on all of our faces as Zack sits on his own hats acting surprised and frustrated.
Next up, The New Tang Clan, two fit tigers and their tiny trainer. Andre flips and spins Serena by his feet while Savon pretends to whip them in her makeshift top hat. Andre’s dad, visiting for the holidays, has somehow snuck in with the circus. He and I make up the New Tang Clan theme song together as the act unfolds. The song consists mostly of the words New, Tang, and Clan. Andre’s dad belts it in a beautiful powerful voice. In the middle of the act, Savon, the seven year old, tosses her hat aside and joins her parents. She stands a top them in various positions to the applause of the children. They are amazed at the super powers of this kid their own age or younger. For their finale the New Tangs swing Savon onto their shoulders and she reaches the ceiling. The kids go wild to see such a powerful child. Afterword, Andre explains that Savon has been doing this since she was a baby and by the time she gets as old as her parents she’ll be really amazing. He explains how lucky they are to have their whole lives ahead of them and encourages them to start practicing something they want to do now so they can really succeed in the future.
A few kids recognize Special Head from America’s Got Talent but don’t realize the rarity of that. To them, seeing a person on T.V. is kind of like seeing them at the grocery store. They don’t know how many people exist in the world and how special it is to see this strange man in person. Special Head gets the children to focus on a feather in his hand. They all believe and slowly the feather begins to rise and float in mid air. He the walks over to center stage with a small wooden cane and gets all the children to throat sing like the Tuvan people of Siberia. After a moment of this his feet suddenly rise from the carpet and he floats cross legged in air balancing on the cane to the side. The children and volunteers go wild with amazement.
Finally, it’s time for the Wonderfools. Becky begins juggling by herself. Zack interrupts and they begin stealing the clubs from each other. Of course, as the kids suggest in shouts from the very beginning, they eventually learn how to share and begin passing. As these reunited clowns begin to juggle the little blond girl is carried back into the audience. This time she is smiling as broadly as her tiny teeth will allow. She turns to the older girl who holds her to say, “I love this.” Becky climbs Zack’s shoulders and juggles with her head above the ceiling panels. Then rescues a dusty plush football that has been trapped there for a while.
We bow and remind the kids that they to have super powers inside of them. The kids hug and high five us until someone calls for the tiggers and rabbits to line up. They march off to bed a little too excited but ready to dream about the day the Emergency Circus came to Casa for Christmas. Mission accomplished.