Saturday, April 11, 2009

I feel cheated. A once in a lifetime opportunity has passed me by and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I'll spend the rest of my life in that lonely valley between Mt. "What if?" and Mt. "If only..."
You see, I could have been in the circus.
Seriously, at one time, I met all of the job requirements. I was physically fit and I loved traveling. I've always enjoyed being around unusual people. I liked being the center of attention. And, best of all, I could do the splits; that marvelous feat of separating the legs and sinking to the floor until they extend at right angles to the body.
I loved to do the splits. I did splits on the playground during recess. I did them in PE and at home while watching television. I did them at parties to impress my friends. Bigmouth Tyrone, the class clown, could put his entire fist in his mouth but it was generally agreed that my splits beat his wet fist, hands down. I was good.
Those days are long gone away. The last time I did the splits it was totally unplanned. I slipped on some ice on the sidewalk. It took three people to get me up and I had to be carried to the car. After that incident, I pretty much forgot about my special talent until a recent visit to the circus brought all those memories flooding back.
I was sitting with my family in the huge auditorium trying to see around the hundreds of balloons and flashing swords blocking my view. The eloquent ringmaster called our attention to the trapeze suspended from the rafters high above in the center of the room. As we watched mesmerized, a lovely lady (who could have used another yard of fabric in her costume by the way) was quickly hoisted up from the ground to the small, dangerous swing.
After watching her entire routine, I came to the conclusion that her primary talent was her ability to do the splits. She did the splits and twirled in a spiral. Then she did the splits while hanging from a leather strap by her very strong teeth. The place went wild. Finally, she did a chin up while, you guessed it, doing the splits. she received a standing ovation from the adoring crowd.
That could have been me, I thought. Those guidance counselors back in high school never told me anything about a career in the circus. When I took the aptitude test, they told me I could work with nuclear waste, be a doctor, or excel as one of the fine people who pick up road kill. Not once did they ever mention that I'd make a great trapeze artist. Now, I'll never know.
Actually, I did make an attempt to see if I still a had it in me like Michael Jordan trying his hand at baseball. After we got home from the circus that night, I went and got on my neighbor's trampoline. Luckily, they weren't home. After a few successful bounces, higher and higher, I felt brave enough to try a somersault. I thought that I was safe there in the middle of that big, black circle of fabric.
I wasn't.
I don't think that I was unconscious very long. There were just a few fire ants on my arms and legs when I came to. I slowly tested each limb and they all responded properly. I didn't notice the big bump on the back of my head until later. I needed that to knock some sense into me.
Walking home, I had just two thoughts. First, I remembered that Michael Jordan wasn't a real awesome baseball player. Beyond that, I merely hoped that no one saw me on that trampoline.