Monday, April 24, 2006

Fear the Joker

Not a bad imitation of a certain Detective Comics villainThis weekend I went on a bar crawl with the nominal "theme" of pirates versus clowns. As girls and pretty boys generally pull off the sexy pirate routine (a lot) better than me, I went with the clown motif. Since I'm already menacing and creepy I decided I might as well maximize this by going as my nicknamesake, the Joker. Therefore, I appropriately arrayed myself with green hair and eyebrows, white face paint, and red lipstick. Little did I realize what a study in fears this would be.
First, on a personal level. I had to drive several miles during the daylight hours to make the bar crawl. Thus my fellow motorists had ample time to gawk and stare. Fortunately the circus was in town so maybe they thought I was a refuge from there. But as I drove it dawned on me that their attention shouldn't bother me. I wasn't hurting anyone and their judgment was entirely irrelevant. If they thought I was weird, creepy, "light in the loafers", or whatever I was doing something fun, legal, and they could all largely bite me if they didn't like it. Although as I was entering the bar I hoped wholeheartedly that other people would be dressed up, otherwise it would make for a long night, I certainly wasn't going to backdown if they weren't, but clown reinforcements were appreciated. I did spend part of the evening alone in my regalia at one bar and had to walk the length of campus town to get my wheels. Although I provoked quite a few stares I received a bunch of compliments ranging from, "great job" to "you look fantastic" to my favorite "holee...". Apparently you can't mess with a classic and a little bit of theatrical balls is appreciated.
My appearance must have been terrifying. People from a poor guy with a phobia of clowns to several shocked young ladies gave me wide berth. I made one of our party scream when I snuck into her field of view. I defeated a whole table of attractive pirate-ettes when I brandished a plastic scimitar and cackled maniacally, their weapons hit the table with a concerted polymer clatter. It was interesting to see them not only shy away but to avoid eye contact as if the ostrich defense would work. In their minds not seeing me, I would not see them and hence wouldn't do anything. What this says about people not facing their everyday or global fears is probably illuminating. Do we as a species hide or avoid that which scares us? Definitely and its self-destructive. Rather than seeing me as a silly guy with a bad paint job they saw something else which played on fears inlaid by popular culture.
It was interesting to see how much "bravery" my grease paint skin afforded me. I climbed on furniture and stole a tray from a waitress without anyone saying anything. My normally low level of self-control eroded with the safety of my disguise. I would talk to anyone just to see the reaction I could provoke, especially folks trying their desperate to appear cool as a gaunt, menacing clown invaded their libations. Although normally sociable this is extreme even for me.
I might just have to get some more make-up.

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