Clowning Around

by Mitch Kalka


The clown, drawn from the author's memory. . .

The clown, drawn from the author’s memory. . .

I remember when my mom hired a clown for my sixth birthday. He was a sad old man who lived across the street from my grandma. I think my mom knew that I had no interest in clowns, but did it as a favor to the sad old man, who thought he was doing us a favor by supplying his clown charm at such a charitable rate.

I tried to keep my distance from him the entire time, but somewhere near the end, he approached me while my back was turned. He made small talk for a while before getting around to the subject of my grandma. “You know your grandma?” he asked.

I thought it was kind of a stupid question to be asking. Couldn’t one assume, without being too big of an asshole about it, that I knew my own grandma?

“Yeah?” I said.

“I know your grandma too.” he replied, in a way that seemed so sinister at the time.

“You do?” I replied, a look of dread falling over my face.

He smiled and nodded his head. “Yep.”

“Grandma no!” I wailed, tears rolling down my cheeks.

The clown was taken aback by my reaction. “Uhh…”

“Please don’t kill my grandma!” I screamed.

This poor clown. He glanced around in embarrassment. “Easy there, bud. There’s no reason to get upset. I’m not going to hurt your grandma; I know her. I’m her friend. See?” He waved his hands in the air and smiled, which was somehow supposed to prove that he knew her.

“Her name’s Shirley, I live across the street.”

“Don’t hurt my grandma!” I screamed.

He didn’t understand that, in my mind, a clown knowing my grandma meant that my grandma was in serious danger.

“It’s okay, kid.” he said.


“Kid, I promise, I won’t kill your grandma. Please just– here.”

He tried to make me a balloon giraffe, which popped on him half way through. His fingers were old and arthritic, and clearly he was no longer capable of doing the same clown tricks he used to.

“I’m sorry.” he said, looking to the ground in both shame and defeat.

You kind of had to feel bad for the guy, especially considering that I made him promise not to kill my grandma. But then, grandmas are important, and their safety is nothing to clown around about.

About the author 

Mitch Kalka is an author and art school dropout. His hobbies include going to the mall, throwing darts, and eating sandwiches.


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