Sunday, April 24, 2011

pretty stable

I got to the circus near the train station and inside a big blue tent there was a trapeze artist without a net and rows of very small children, and I was terrified.
Mademoiselle Fatima seemed completely comfortable on the trapeze bar and not in a good way, but in the way they try to terrify you at the circus.

Then there was a horse and tiger segment and it was almost as painful as back in the day when I interned at Marineland to record the breathing patterns of Orca whales.
Killer whales are huge and the tank was about the size of the Juniors section of a Macy's and at the shows they flipped around and swam around in circles and puffed water at the audience then went to sleep looking sad.
At the Moroccan circus the horses ran around in circles and "neighed" / cried for five minutes and then went back to the stable while a seven to ten year-old girl in a white ball gown gently tamed doves to an instrumental version of a Celine Dion top 40 hit and to the crunch of popcorn and the crying of children remembering the fire-eater. And the clowns.

As we left my friends took photos and I tried to talk to one of the acrobats. He was by a set of pretty pink stables with tiny horses inside and he tried to explain to me that the they were fine and they were used to it, in the same way that Dr. Ramshaw justified to me that while we might contest the orcas being caged in such an unnatural SeaWorldish habitat, work is work. And since the animals grew up there, given their nature, they were grateful to be fed regularly and doing pretty okay.
I still don't agree with this, and I don't think he agrees with himself either, but it allowed him to do his research without feeling like a jerk.

I was terrified at the circus along with many of the children, but serendipitously, very soon after had the chance to spend the day with a circus family. For the second time I realized that as much as they bring lifelong fear to some, they do truly believe that they are filling most spectators with joy. Everyone has to make their own way, and realistically I know nothing about the lives of the performers, or the whales or the horses or their tamers. At least compared to me, they all seemed pretty stable.

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