On Scary Clowns

First off, I’d like to say that I’ve had a lovely time in Pittsburgh, and that Helen and their roommates have been very generous in allowing us to stay with them. Secondly, my taste is not universal, and other people’s reactions to art are not less valid because they are different from mine. I’m sure whoever put up this picture has a wonderful relationship with it, and I in no way intend to diminish that relationship by describing my batshit insane reaction to it.

The first time I went into the bathroom of Helen’s house, I noticed a wood parquet picture of a clown. In true optimist fashion, I tried to find it charming, and instead concluded that it was too bad that Stephen King has ruined clowns forever. Then, I returned to Helen and Will and forgot about it until it was time to go to bed.

I often walk around the house with my glasses off, probably as a holdover from when I thought I only needed them to see the blackboard. Normally this is fine; nothing is far enough away that I really can’t tell what it is, and I know who everyone is so I don’t have to recognize anyone. Unfortunately, blurrier vision seriously enhances optical illusions, apparently. Coupled with the lack of sleep left over from from Oberlin commencement weekend, it pushed the picture from being difficult to like to downright frightening. At the time, I had a very complicated theory involving the ambiguously-drawn eyes and the angles of the head and hair, which I doubt will hold up to scrutiny in the light of day. Regardless, the eyes were definitely following me, and I just could. not. handle it.

Since Will and I started talking about taking this trip, people have been warning me that living in different places every week was going to take its toll in terms of figuring out how other people’s showers work, finding grocery stores, and sleeping areas with suboptimal back support. I can say unequivocally that that first night was when the travel madness hit. I probably spent at least 10 minutes trying to get ready for the shower while constantly turning around, trying to catch its eye. At some point, I had to give up. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if something is totally irrational, you just have to indulge your own caprices.

So, in this case, I took it down from the wall, made Will tell me that yes, it’s terrifying and I’m not a crazy person, and then put it somewhere downstairs where I wouldn’t find it.

Anyway, by now, we’ve left Pittsburgh and gone on to Marietta, OH, and hopefully no more travel madness on my part.


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