Send Out the Clowns

Today, I was curled up under the library, eating lunch and reading a printout of Coursework, minding my own business. Nothing to see here. Move along. As you were.

In walked a girl, wearing full-out clown makeup. Why, I do not know. She had the pasty-white skin makeup, the ridiculous gashes of red, red lipstick and – most inexplicably to me – huge circles of dark liner. It went beyond the usual smoky-eye barrier of the lash line.

And then she was joined by another.

Perhaps they were zombies, though I recall pictures of zombies being more bloodied.

At any rate, they reminded me of clowns, and this brought to mind something Mum said recently. Apparently, as a child, I was terrified of clowns – to the extent that when we saw one, we crossed the street because I (according to Mum) just freaked out. And really, who wouldn’t? I’m sure I’ve read that clowns are a fairly common phobia.

This is how I came to realize: my childhood fear of clowns is because of the Uncanny: something being both familiar and alien. Everyday people do not typically parade around with painted-white faces and exaggeratedly large, red lips. It’s a jolt, unfamiliar to what we normally see of people. As an adult, I still dislike clowns. There’s something menacing to me, in the exaggeration and in the layers of makeup. One could hide a lot under makeup.

And so it was that I tore some paper out of my binder and settled in for Cubism, smug in the knowledge that I’d psychoanalyzed myself with a bit of Freud.

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