Once an inflatable clown wondered how many more times it could be punched to the floor and still bounce back. A thousand times? A hundred? Ten? One? It wasn’t easy being the target of so much disdain and aggression. Or maintaining this silly grin through every pummeling it had to endure. People needed outlets for their frustrations and angers, to be certain, but couldn’t they find them by laying into something else on occasion? Although if it weren’t for the clown, they’d probably be whaling away at each other in short order, so there wasn’t much hope of being spared its role as a stand-in foe for all. Still, the clown wished some kind of recognition would be made of the difficult task it was asked to perform for humanity. If nothing else, what about a few restrictions on the low blows and rabbit punches? Surely it did none of its attackers any credit to be seen practicing underhanded tactics they wanted to work on whoever their real target might be. Then again, thrashing an inflatable clown in the first place couldn’t do much for one’s reputation or self-image, could it? So perhaps its assailants were beyond such considerations already. Something could still be done about limiting their numbers, though, the clown felt. This urge to pile on whenever they saw somebody else taking swings at it could turn even a seemingly docile crowd into a raging mob in no time. Was it wise to allow free rein to such tendencies, especially when there was no guarantee they’d stop with the clown? If history was any guide, once the initial object of their wrath had been disposed of, it was on to the next victim at hand, until mobs had turned into armies storming across the land and falling upon anyone or anything not quick enough to get out of their way. But the clown had been around long enough to realize how unlikely it was that this seeking of anonymity in communal violence would be curbed merely for its sake. Then how about at least separating the adults from the children? Give them different times to have a go at the clown, maybe. Not just to curb untoward lessons taught by example but also simply a way of telling the two age groups apart. In the midst of their frenzy, with emotions at full pitch, grown men and women could easily be mistaken for playground bullies, launching their most vicious attacks against any weakness they feared bigger bullies might see in them too if they restrained themselves. Where would it all end? How high up the bragging order of power did you have to climb before you no longer feared being taken for a weakling or a coward by the world who needed to stalk about in search of a punch-down clown to prove you weren’t?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans