NO! Never, I said. I had just received a phone call from a clown friend, ZEKE, whom I hadn’t seen for awhile. The Fellowship of Christian Clowns had stopped meeting a couple of years earlier, as most of us were getting older. Zeke informed me that our teacher and leader, Mr. Eve, had just died. Zeke was positive that Mr. Eve would want us to attend in full wardrobe. No! Never, I repeated.
I started making excuses and told him it had been awhile since I had been in full wardrobe. “Likewise,” he said. Now Zeke was the kind of guy who would not take no for an answer. It didn’t help that we had often gotten the giggles together when we were clowning. Neither one of us knew why, but then things that make you laugh cannot be analyzed. Zeke continued, saying that he was SURE that Mr. Eve would like it. I knew he was right, but what about everyone else?
Zeke was a deacon of his Baptist Church. It was a large church with two morning services and a Sunday evening service. They were used to clowns, because Mr. Eve was not only the clown leader in their church but had taught clowning for twenty years, and had gotten clowning started in many other denominations in northern Virginia. All the clown graduations were at this church. Mr. Eve’s wife and daughter were clowns, also. But Mr. Eve’s wife had died a couple of years before.
Finally I said to Zeke, “If you can get a third clown, Ill do it.” I was quite sure he couldn’t, and it seemed the only way out. Well, in less than a few hours he had found USTAR-2! USTAR-2 was a man who had started clowning after hearing me and another clown on a radio interview. “Well, Reverend Absurd,” he said, “We’re on!” And I knew it was so.
The night of the memorial service we met in the parking lot and agreed that we should sit in the back of the sanctuary. However, the moment we walked in the door, we were greeted by ushers almost as though they had been expecting us, and they insisted we must sit in the front. “Clint would love this,” they said. So, before we knew it, we were each being escorted by an usher down to the front!
It turned out the Minister spent a large part of the service speaking about Clint’s (Mr. Eve’s) clown ministry as part of his gift to the community. And he thanked us for coming as clowns. He wanted to make sure we came to the reception afterwards, which we had NOT planned to do.
We connected with other clowns at the reception, and with Mr. Eve’s daughter, who said that she was the first clown in their family, especially thanked us. She also told us much more of her parents’ clowning history that we had not known.
A clown is expected to put an upward spin to the experiences of inevitable passages of human life, and the three of us agreed that we were glad we had the courage to take the time and effort to say goodbye to our teacher and friend in an appropriate clown manner.
[Written July 20, 2009]