By RHONDA SCHROCK
It comes on a crisp, fall day. There we are, perched on a sidewalk just before that famous pie.
Peering through the plate glass window, it stretches as far as my eye can see. Or in this case, 7 feet in either direction.
The Mister and Little, they settle back into their chairs set square on sidewalk’s edge. Two Men and a Mission, that’s what they are, and their mission involves bars from the coffee shop. They’re determined, I see, that their strength should not fail, and their fuel is chocolate and mint.
Waiting there for the parade to commence, we’re having a jolly good time. When the chuckling dies down, I say to him, “Who else could you have this much fun with before the parade even starts?” And that quick, he says, straight off the top of his head, “You’re a parade all by yourself.”
WELL, THEN. A parade, huh? I share The Mister’s quote with my friends who can always be trusted to bring depth and color to the conversation. And sure enough. They do not disappoint. First, they hoot and holler, giving what I feel is a little more affirmation than what he really needs.
“You are!” someone, a teacher friend, says.
“I’d have to agree with him,” someone else (oh, wait, that’s my mother-in-law) chimes in, laughing.
“He hit the nail on the head! Where do you think the boys got it from, anyway?” This unnecessary observation from my sister.
Then the pithy questions begin. Things like, “What kind of candy do you throw?” and, “Do you turn on your sirens when you blow past?” and then this from a hard-charging businessman, “Did he forget to mention a three-ring circus?”
A THREE-RING CIRCUS? No, he hadn’t mentioned that. In fact, I rather liked his parade depiction ‘cause parades were fun, having clowns and candy and Shriners on scooters. They had horses and Boy Scouts. Marshals and police cars. Fire trucks, sirens and bands marching by.
Parades had tractors and cycles, twirlers and floats. Some even had llama clubs and some, politicians, though here, one found oneself eyeing them warily, watching to see if they’d spit. (The llamas, of course. Not the pols.)
Then there was this; every parade of any substance at all had a queen. Whether it was the Apple Festival locally, the Polka in Poughkeepsie Festival, or the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival, there had to be a queen. And I? Well, I’d love to be a queen.
Being the queen meant a tiara and a ride in a Mustang. This, of course, after you’d written an essay extolling the virtues of whatever was being celebrated. Which, in Louisiana, meant fur and wildlife. Hopeful contestants expressed eternal affinity for, say, the wildlife and their suits while explaining how it had forever altered their lives. I could do that.
NEXT, the eager court was expected to dazzle the judges in a hardball interview where questions could range from current tax rates to world peace to Justin Bieber’s latest acne flare. All of this, of course, with blinding smiles that never slipped and five-inch heels that had better not. I could possibly do that.
It was good, really, that Mr. Schrock hadn’t gone with “circus.” Circuses, I knew, had bearded ladies of, well, a certain physique. Implying that one’s wife was circus like was a bad tactical move for any fellow. The only possible outcome of such a suggestion involved a rolling pin, and Mr. Schrock was far too canny to put his foot in that particular trap.
The other thing was that most of the time, I lived in one. Here, we had the whole shootin’ match, including the three rings, a barker and the growly brown bears. We even had lions, and we had a tamer, though I found poking at a roughhousing pride with a kitchen chair to be exhausting.
AT THE Schrock and Bailey show, we had our own version of the classic “Clowns in a VW” trick. It used to happen every Sunday in the church parking lot. Every week, the little clowns would tumble out of a tiny Corolla to land in a heap, shoelaces flapping and shirttails untucked with Mother’s pride tattered like an old pair of jeans.
We had clowns, bears, tamers and chairs, but there were no trapeze artists here. That skill demanded both tights and great heights, and Certain Someone was allergic to both. Still, while we didn’t have those, we did have a cannonball that went off with the early alarm. We had her, and then the lady who fed all the animals and cleaned up their cages.
Wait. What? Hey, that’s me. That’s all me. And now you see why I’m thrilled to be an entire parade. A parade, and the queen riding by in a Mustang.
If you see me out and about, give a wave. I’ll parade-wave you back (I’m rehearsing) and throw you a megawatt grin. I may hit the sirens, and I’ll try to throw candy, OK? So please wave.