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The Circus and the Puppets

“The Circus is coming to town! The Circus is coming to town!! Oh, what a joy, what fun… Oh, how much better our Life will be…!” And so it went, on and on for days on end… the cries, the expectations, the anticipation of this stupendous phenomenon… until the great day arrived… and the crowds gathered…

“Look! Everyone is all dressed up in their Sunday best! It truly must be special…Look! There’s games of strengths for the men… oh, and competitions too, to see who is the bestest man of all…” he said, longingly. “Yes dear, you’d better go and line up with them all… after all, what will the neighbors say if you got left out… so go on, I’ll take the little ones to see the parade with all the glitter and glamour… and yes dear, I’ll keep them away from the freak-shows, I know how we must safeguard their simple minds from the ugliness of these so called ‘men and women’… Bizarre, would you say, that the great lords would allow such as them to walk amongst honest folks as us… but what can you do? It’s modern life, and we all have our burdens to bear…”

And so the little ones were led to explore this world of many wonders… but selectively, for much is best left to grown ups who understand the fake from reality, and who would not be taken in by sleight-of-hand, or the quick patter of words designed to lure the feeble minded…

“Oh, look Ma… the puppets, the pretty puppets… can we please, please see the puppets…?” And who can resist those cavorting pretties, prancing around in their colorful attire, engaging in mock battles and other gags and tricks… and look there, the brightest one, the one filled with color, who jumps the highest, and stands so tall that all others seem insignificant… He has the best lines, the funniest jokes, and pulls the greatest stunts… Oh, and he speaks too, so eloquently… even if some prudes in the audience do not appreciate him, nor his attire. “He’s just too crude, too rude” they say, “Not for me or for mine. I’d rather spend my time being soothed by lullabies than be faced by such strident noise… Cavorting indeed – how rude, how undignified.”

And so some left, but children did not, and some adults too… and as the day moved onto night they stayed, now in total fascination, caught by the allure of make-believe. The more they gaped, the more frantic the puppets danced – they jumped higher and higher, spouting words that go louder and louder, and the frenzied acting and lurid performance all revolved around the brightest ones. Competitions got fierce now to see which puppet would emerge victorious, who would be the brightest of them all… who would be the belle of the ball. …and at the very height of the frantic performance, one emerged victorious… Yes, the brightest one, the loudest, the one who was so obviously superior… And all the audience clapped and cheered and some whistled too, for their hero, their favorite had won… finally they could all go home, safe in the drunken joy of victory.

Now the lights have dimmed, the patrons have left… and all that remains is to tidy up for the night… And here, at the puppets’ tent an important conversation is going on… “I was the best… I’m always the best” said the brightest puppet, “See how much they clapped, they love me… me, not anyone else! I think I deserve more, in fact I know I deserve more! I don’t want to be lumped together with such inferior puppets. I’m just too special! I want my own show… in fact I demand it!” “Be careful puppet” replied the puppet-master, “Remember your place! Do not think to tell me what to do!” “Ha!” said the puppet carelessly, “I’m the one they want! I – not you – I am the STAR of the show… You’re just the faceless behind the curtain… Without me you have no show!”

“Really…?” said the hidden master, “I think your time has come and gone… Ingrate, you think too much of yourself! I am the master, you’re just a mouthpiece!” and with a careless quick flick the strings were torn, the puppet crumbled, and now uncaringly kicked to lie, discarded in a heap near the trash…

And that’s where the little ones found him the next day – but as they went to pick him up Ma said, “That’s just trash, I don’t want it in my house… put it down! It’s not dignified to carry trash inside my home! Look, the show is about to begin, and… Oh, look, they’ve got a new puppet… look how bright he is.”

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