A Formal Apology

How did I get to be prayed for by hundreds of clowns? In the summer of 2013, I wrote an acerbic post about some Christian clowns I encountered when I took Jack to the county fair. Barely anyone read it.

Then, the other day after my last class filed out, I opened my email to find that someone had commented. Clowns for Christ of Dayton, Ohio said they were writing also on behalf of CFC in Indianapolis and Detroit. You have such deep hatred, the comment read. This cyber bullying is not healthy for someone in your condition.

Followed by a line I never thought I’d see: Hundreds of clowns are praying for you.

I could feel my nostrils flare. My chest started to heave. Those bastards! They knew exactly what would send me over the edge.

I leapt up from my desk and stalked down the hall.

“What’s up, Abby?” asked a colleague.

“Oh, I pissed off a bunch of clowns,” I answered angrily, “and now”— I could barely say it—“hundreds of them are praying for me!”

The group in the hallway just stared. I slunk away before they thought I was psychotic.

I returned to my desk, disconcerted, and shared the comment with a group of blogger friends on Facebook.

“I’m envisioning them all in a circle, or a ring if you will, offering you up in their prayers and clown-faced angels keeping watch over you,” wrote Teri. “Holy shit, that’s totally creepy.”

“I wonder if when clowns pray, like, 40 of them are on one kneeling bench,” mused Rachael.

Harmony replied, “Do clowns go to confession? Because I imagine lots of them crowding into that tiny box.”

“I’m sure they carpool, Harmony,” wrote Vicky. “In a VW bug.”

“You’re gonna wake up with a red rubber nose in your bed,” wrote Rachael.

“And a rubber chicken under your pillow,” added Teri.

“It’s not like you need to worry, Abby,” Harmony reassured me. “They’ll just drive in circles and run into each other on their way to get you.”

Thinking about how to reply, I read the Clowns for Christ comment again. How could people be simultaneously so nice and so condescending? At least when I’m condescending, I have the decency to be bitchy about it. There appeared be no ill will in their words, though—only forbearance and kindness.

I began to reflect: If clowns truly are this pure of heart, and I have hundreds of them praying for me, I’m probably invincible! I imagined myself running into traffic with abandon. Rolling over waterfalls in a barrel and then emerging in a flourish, wearing a retro-style swimsuit and waving to photographers. Gunning it in an old Dodge Charger and then catching air for few glorious moments, à la Dukes of Hazzard, before tumbling right off a motherfucking cliff. The Charger bursts into flames, but those clown-faced angels pull me out and hold me up for the world to see.

Boom. Protected by the power of clown prayer.

Boss Hogg is off to one side, doing a slow clap, because even he is impressed.

 

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With that kind of spiritual capital, I reasoned, Christian clowns simply aren’t a force to be dismissed. There was only one course of action: I was going to have to apologize.

*

Dear Clowns for Christ,

I’d like to issue a formal apology for the way I reacted when one of your representatives tried to reach out to my son and me at the county fair, as well as for what I wrote in my blog the next day. I was speaking out of ignorance when I called your art “a distinctly unholy fusion of clowning and religion” and referred to practitioners of it as “fucking terrifying.”

When a sinner such as I finds herself on the path of hate, it can be very hard to find her way back. I’m not exactly sure where I began to stray. I was raised an atheist by my dear, well-intentioned but destined-for-eternal-damnation parents. I never went to Bible school to learn the word of God and make fish and sheep crafts like the other neighborhood children. When I was two, my heathen parents took me to a circus where I met two clowns, Oscar and Eggroll. I can’t say for sure what about the experience was traumatic. I suppose I was just trying to block out the goodness and light that these two souls were attempting to spread. Regardless, I never felt comfortable with Jesus or clowns. I suspect the final straw was an unfortunate late-night viewing of Stephen King’s It, which cemented my godless view of the universe and caused me to fear, ever after, killer clowns who might arise from storm drains. You may know of this movie. If you do, then I’m sure you will agree that Mr. King is very, very much in need of prayer, indeed.

As I was—little did I know it! Then your organization came along and left that message full of hope and love on my blog. Once I knew that hundreds of clowns were praying for me, I began to question where I had gone wrong in life. The fear began to dissipate, the walls tumble down, and I felt an urge to don a colorful outfit and floppy shoes and leave behind this sad, grey world of negativity. I used to scoff at clowns’ silly tricks, but now I see why they’re the perfect vehicle for the word of God. You might say clownliness is next to godliness, ha ha. I made that joke up all by myself. Maybe I would make a good clown after all.

Isn’t it a sign of God’s mysterious power that one comment on a blog post can completely alter a person’s worldview? Instead of spreading a hateful message, I am now going to work to make sure that people appreciate the art of clowning, and the important role of clowning in bringing God’s word to everyone. If we’re ever at the county fair again, and my son is approached by a Clown for Christ, I won’t even try chasing him. I will just let him go right on into that white shed-like building with a stranger in makeup and a red curly wig. Because how could anyone in a Christian organization hurt a child?

Thank you, clowns.

Sincerely,

Abby Byrd

7 thoughts on “A Formal Apology

  1. So much wonderful! There needs to be a new Irish blessing: May hundreds of clowns never pray for you, because that’s just creepy. In the name of Emmett Kelly, Coco the Clown, and the Holy Bozo, Amen.

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