Wednesday, April 09, 2008

And Children Of All Ages

A nearby priest, and friend of mine, was just asked to be the local chaplain for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Greatest Show on Earth.

We’re not talking about the Shrine Circus or those one-ring dirt shows that travel the south. This is the Big One. This is the railroad train with 52 cars, the Traveling Moral Exposition of the World, so-called by its owner, and former mayor of Bridgeport CT, Phineas Taylor Barnum, the king of humbug.

Mayor of Bridgeport? Yup, and a darned good one, too. He was a great businessman, knew how to run an operation and was held in high esteem by his peers. Besides, since B’port has had so many clowns in various offices, why not have a circus owner be their boss? Makes sense to me.

Anyway, our good reverend has done this before. He gathers the aerialists and whoever is available at that time backstage and has Mass for them. Last time, he noticed the Queen of the Aerialists, in full costume, eating her mac & cheese supper off a plate on a packing box. Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say in show business.

He suspects the make-do “chapel” is the children’s school room at other times. Next to it is the ladies’ dressing room and a sewing machine where another queen of the show was mending her costume. What happens backstage stays backstage; the glitter and music and acrobats shine only when the lights are on.


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