Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Harvest Time Music Festival, The Clown, and The Legend of Suzie Blue

Jason was my best friend for most of my formative years. We were a lot alike - normal kids for the most part. His mother Suzie was normal too for about the first year I knew her. She met Barry, Jason's dad, while attending NIU. They married shortly thereafter and raised a great family, had a nice house in a subdivision, and two obnoxious dogs. They were the kind of family I wished I had growing up. I was Eli Cash to Barry's Royal Tenenbaum. This changed drastically one day at a Chuck-e-Cheese. I was in sixth grade and Suzie took Jason and I and some friends to go roll around in the giant ball pit. After one or more of us had been reduced to tears from being pelted by friends with small plastic balls we got ready to go. As I was zipping up my Starter jacket and slapping on my slap-bracelets Suzie pulled me aside and confided to me a long confusing story about Barry's infidelities and a boss's sexual advances toward her and threats on her life. I told her she should go see a therapist but, being a sixth-grader, she did not heed my advice. It turned out that none of those things she told me were true, and she was actually cheating on Barry with her boss. The marriage dissolved, Suzie lost her job and she descended like a demented, reverse-Phoenix into a parallel universe where she remains to this day. She moved out on her own and started a traveling petting zoo out of her beat-up astro-van. There were iguanas, ferrets, hamsters, birds, a domesticated Gila-monster, plenty of crystal-meth and several obnoxious dogs. The only thing she was missing was paying customers. Police ticketed her more than once for abandoning her dozen-plus animal entourage in a locked van in a Hardee's parking lot. After her apartment had been inundated with urine and fleas Suzie got rid of the petting zoo, and we never spoke of it again.

A year later she played a key role in getting Jason and I suspended from school. It was The Harvest Time Music Festival in rural Geneseo, IL, which is a yearly glorified ice-cream social that culminates in the local school choirs from grades K-12 singing something overtly Christian and/or patriotic. There was a clown there that year and little did anyone know it was to be his last. His only mistake was to make Suzie's eight-year-old daughter a giraffe out of balloons, which was enough to convince Suzie that she had been sexually harassed. At the music fest, among the many attractions from the Moon Bounce to the smaller Balloon Jump, was a cardboard jail and if you gave the jailor two tickets an eighth grader would arrest and imprison anyone of your liking for ten minutes. Since she knew the real police were on the humane society and clown union's payroll, she sought retribution through the only avenue available - the cardboard jail. It turned out the clown successfully resisted the jr. high volunteer's plea to 'please come with me'. Now sensing a conspiracy, Suzie enlisted Jason and I to strong-arm the clown into the jail. Now, I knew Suzie was crazy, but I was twelve and couldn't pass up the opportunity to bully a clown. Jason and I muscled the clown into the cardboard jail, broke his over-sized comb, and stole his bag of props. We then fled, but he gave chase. He caught up with us but not before we had the chance destroy his bag and any hopes he had of spreading joy to children that fateful Sunday afternoon.

On Monday we were ushered into the vice-principal's office by an under-cover fascist posing as a gym teacher. We were informed of our suspension, and that the clown would not be returning to the Harvest Time Music Festival next year. The news was bittersweet - we had successfully broken the clown's spirit on one hand - but on the other, we wouldn't have the opportunity to do it again the next year. As luck would have it the karaoke guy was also not going to be back. He was asked not to return when it was brought to the vice-principal's attention that he allowed an obscenity filled version of 'We Are The World' to be performed by a group of middle-schoolers. Although he wasn't complicit and he did turn off their mic, he had known-ties to Suzie, and they weren't about to take that chance again.

Suzie has spent the decade since in and out of jails, psych-wards, and folk-lore. She was once arrested for smashing car windows in a hotel parking lot in the nude. She was arrested shortly after her release from that incident for yelling obscenities in the middle of the night from the lawn of her arresting officer, also while nude. Tales of Suzie have become so tall it's hard to believe that they're all true. But they are. No one knows for sure where Suzie is these days, except maybe the FBI, but as legend has it every time a prescription for anti-depressants goes unfilled an animal that died of neglect at the hands of Suzie gets its wings.


  1. Words can't even describe how fucking hilarious this was, nor how perceptive. Words cannot do a lot of things in this post 9-11 world.

  2. Yeah, I like the part where Suzie is all like "hey I'm in the Cardigans" but it turns out she was a liar.

  3. i am glad you chose your words carefully, and only mentioned relevant names!!! : )