Last night we went to the Shrine Circus in Oakville. In my minds eye, the circus still looks like Dumbo's "Casey Junior" engine chugging into a small town carrying oddities, intricacies and marvels from far off lands. I see a picture of a tent with hand-stitched patches that could either play host a revival meeting or traveling show depending on whose cart it was in.
The circus is a time honored craft and it's really quite a beautiful dance to watch. What we saw at the circus last night... my wife had seen in different places and times before. Elephants on their hind legs, clowns in full out schtick, daring young men on the flying trapeze. It was an entirely new sensory experience for my kids... and they were literally wide-eyed and jaw-dropped. But for us, it was like remembering our childhoods before entertainment was "on demand."
We were treated to the backstage experience with a group of bloggers, tasked with telling the "Our family went to the circus" story. When I dig into experiences... the points that stick out to me are rarely the event itself. So while the show was top rate, and the chance for my kids to feed elephants was amazing... the story of the CIRCUS family was most intriguing to me.
spinning his wheels" as he described it. But he found a home with the Zebini's and their family business. He married Kimberly (an animal trainer and acrobat), the daughter of Tarzan, whose family have been running circuses since 1763. It became home. He told us an incredible tale of Tarzan traveling across the Sahara Dessert with his show.
After taking a number of years off to give his kids the public school and "normal" life.... Richard and Kimberly returned to take their rightful place in family history at the circus. I listened to Richard talk about this seemingly odd life. But he spoke very honestly and fondly about how the circus kids thrive in virtual school while learning a skill and developing deep relationships with family and others with deep passions for the craft of circus.
And I GOT it.
I have great respect for those who work hard at their craft... and the Zerbini family works hard. They are good at what they do. The finale of the night had someone walking on the outside of a massive spinning wheel, hundreds of feet in the air... blindfolded. My son looked at me and in shock said, "that man is RISKING HIS LIFE for this! He should get down!" But he didn't get down. Instead he walked blindfolded on a narrow wheel hundreds of feet in the air. At one point he actually ALMOST DID stumble off and seemed genuinely rattled. But he kept going... because that's what he does. It's his job.
We stood and clapped with appreciation. Sadly... at the moment the grand finale finished (and few before), the crowd streamed out into the parking lot before the curtain call. Those who had just worked very hard, and in some cases risked their life for our awe, came out to take a bow to a smaller crowd than they should have. "Gotta beat the traffic" I'm sure was the logic. But that is rude and selfish logic. I know how it feels to put on a show and an event. It's work, and sometimes you hear more selfishly motivated complaints that you should have to.
Those I had the chance to meet yesterday... I truly liked. I would have loved the chance to sit and have a drink or two with Richard Curtis to hear him tell of the war... being Dad on the road... and the pull between family responsibilities, destiny and freedom. Everyone involved were complex and unique folks... but the distinctly different and slightly obscure flavor of the night was delectable.
Miranda Lambert just released a great new song called, "All Kind of Kinds". The first verse says:
Ilsa was an acrobat who went and fell in love with that Horatio the human cannonball.
A weddin' 'neath the big top tent with barkers clowns and elephants, sideshow family oddities and all.
The dog-faced boy howled out with joy As the tattooed lady was crying.
Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning... .... It takes all kinds of kinds.
I was honored to meet one of those "kinds" last night and I hope to meet them again.
The Shrine Circus is in the GTA until August 5th. Click here to get tickets and if you use the codeword FUN through my blog link, you can get tickets 2 for 1.