No One Imagines Clowns Having Sex
Charles Nelson Reilly. Paul Lynde. Rip Taylor.
The original Circuit Queens. Blowing
up the 70’s game show with one-liners
that could make even Phyllis Diller blush.
Finally a place they could be Leading Men.
Usually the first to be cast second fiddle:
Evil magician, sea genie, a greedy cartoon rat.
Or everyone’s bachelor uncle. The prankster.
Perpetually tan. Back from another cruise.
(No one asked where.) Pockets bulging
with innuendo. Handle bar mustache
slightly askew. Donning his busiest blouse.
Scarf twist, a frisky bow on a gift box.
How the triangles lit up the center square.
Primetime fools. Attempting to fool no one.
Their mother tongue: Irony. Also fluent in
nuance. Funneling outrage into outrageousness.
Tunneling, with catty claws, into livingrooms
where bored housewives doused vinegar
into another afternoon’s three-bean salad.
After so many cottage cheese platters—
who wouldn’t crave something saltier?
These bad boys had no wives to leave.
No kids to discipline. Just trivial wisdom
that could send couples on honeymoons,
pay for a new car, an extension on the house.
Loads of cash in their loaded answers.
Their delivery—silly, snide or spicy—
somehow saying without ever saying
whatever we weren’t ready to hear said.
Where Are They Now: Peppermint Patty
After Marcie split for a Ph.D. candidate from Wellesley
(who was willing to at least entertain the idea of having kids)
Peppermint moved to Provincetown, swearing to this day
it had nothing to do with the Japanese sculptress she met
at Schroeder’s Carnegie Hall post-performance cocktail party.
Didn’t take long for the then-‘curious’ Hiroko to be charmed
by Patty’s casual directness (so unlike what she knew in Tokyo).
And took even less time, after they shacked up, to sense
Marcie was a ghost in their bed. The second time Patty asked
to be called Sir, Hiroko packed all her welding equipment
and returned to New York City, where her work was featured
at a premiere gallery. Patty went to the opening, uninvited,
claiming it was Schroeder’s idea. Yeah, he wanted to show
support—since you came to his thingy. Hiroko thanked Schroeder
(his blank stare making it quite obvious he didn’t remember her)
but she couldn’t summon the casual directness to say, Sorry, Pep,
these pieces weren’t inspired by you. And I have no new girlfriend
you can intimidate. So just leave. But her gallerist had no qualms
about siccing security on Patty once it was clear she’d downed
one too many wine spritzers and her blonde companion
didn’t have it in him to drag her out of there. Patty did spend
a few weeks on a bender after that, sofa-surfing with Lucy,
who had followed Schroeder to New York despite everyone
warning he was definitely not interested, maybe even gay.
Look, I’m no Psychiatrist. Despite what people may think,
she told Patty. But pull yourself together, girl. And seriously
how do you manage in those sandals when you’re sloshed?
This is Manhattan, for Pete’s sake! When Linus visited that week
for the Halloween Parade, he insisted Patty return with him
to Portland, where he could use a hand on his pumpkin farm
now that Sally was through Waiting around in the chickenshit
for a Chickenshit Blockhead who’ll never pop the damn question.
What a fool I’ve been! she yelled. I should’ve just gone back
to live with my parents. Like my brother—another Blockhead!
Patty asked how Chuck was doing—they hadn’t spoken
since she accused him of trying to steal away Marcie—
then agreed to give Portland a shot. Well, at least ya got
the shoes for it, Lucy offered, glad to have her sofa back:
A comment that took seed in Patty, who wasted no time
during her downtime on the farm, opening a side business
(with the help of investors/old pals Franklin and Pig Pen):
Peppermint’s Burkenstock Repair Shop, the sign promising,
Pepper will keep ‘em in Mint condition! When the farm folded,
she made Linus a shareholder. And phoned Charlie to ask if
he’d join her team, greeting him with Apologies accepted, Chuck!
Being a Gay Boy in the 80’s
Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers were lightweights
contending with my secret boogieman on the evening news.
Eventually you’ll drink the poison! he said. Or die of thirst.
My mother wondered what was eating me, why I had no appetite.
Somewhere someone in a lab coat as white as my semen
attempted to name him. While I twisted a Rubik’s Cube,
believing I could unscramble its rainbow. I’m in my 40’s
and still haven’t learned how. I’m in my 40’s and still
hear him whispering: Shouldn’t you be dead by now?
I found my appetite while somewhere someone in a lab coat
tried to find a cure. In my 20’s I tried abstinence. But knew
eventually I would break: chug. Or die of thirst. Once
a friend found his partner hovering over the toilet, holding
a condom ballooning with water and semen. No leaks. Only
apologies sounding like Shouldn’t we be dead by now?
Reagan wouldn’t mention the war. The first line of men fell.
Today documentaries terrify me more than horror films.
Still twisting and twisting—I talk to the dead
older brothers I never had.