Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Liebster….Sort Of

Bonnee Crawford kindly tapped me for a LiebsterAward. List 11 facts, answer 11 questions, etc. I, however, got hung up on question #5: Was there a character from a kids’ show that you were legitimately afraid of? Yes, yes there was.
Bozo the Clown. 
Now, before I get into the details, let me say this: I find the question really interesting. “Legitimately afraid.” Was my Bozophobia a legitimate fear? In reality, no. Bozo never hurt me. He never threatened my family. He never came after me with a knife, never tried to drag me into the sewers to feed. He never did anything wrong. My clown fear was totally unreasonable, but it was very real to me, and thus legitimate.
I alluded to my Bozophobia a couple of years ago (Ten Things about…Me?), but I didn’t give you the full story. In that post I stated Bozo the Clown was a favorite, even though I was afraid of clowns. The thing is, I wasn’t always afraid of clowns.
When I was little, I loved Bozo the Clown. I used to watch the show all the time. At least, I think I did; I can’t actually remember anything about it. I can’t remember the sound of Bozo’s voice, or the names of any other characters, or even if there were any other characters. I don’t remember any favorite gags or skits, or anything about the show. Maybe I was too young to really remember any of that. It’s a fact of my life that I just KNOW, you know?
I’ve never figured out what that logo is supposed to be.
I do remember this, however: Bozo the Clown came to visit a toy store near us and I wanted desperately to meet him. (And how great is this when you’re a kid? A toy store—in walking distance!). So my father took me. And what happened? I didn’t shake his hand, I didn’t get his autograph, I didn’t get my picture taken with him. IN fact, my only view of him that I do remember is from one end of an aisle where I peered around the racks of toys and games while Bozo stood on a little platform greeting some kids. I wouldn’t go near him. I was terrified.
To this day I can’t say why I was so frightened. Maybe it was that normal sort of fear people sometimes get when they meet a celebrity or idol (I wouldn’t exactly qualify Bozo as an idol; he was never in Bobby Orr territory, but still: Bozo the Clown!): what if I say something stupid? What if he says something stupid? What if he turns out to be a complete asshole? It’s funny, we want our celebrities and heroes to be just like us—until they are, then we think they’re dicks. Really, however, I think what really happened is I caught a glimpse of Bozo in person and discovered this fundamental fact of life: clowns are fucking creepy.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

7 Responses

  1. Bozophobia – hahaha! What a great word! And kids often get scared of things without a legitimate reason; maybe it's some unconscious fear. The kids etertainer who used to scare me was Mr. Rogers. What could be wrong with the "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" singer, I don't know, but he was skeevy with his feminine voice and "grooming" style patience (as in pedophile "grooming"–though no one even knew what that was then). I found him really phoney. Other kid entertainers didn't bother me, like Captain Kangaroo, Bozo, or Ronald McDonald. But that Mr. Rogers was creepy. :O

  2. I just looked him up and despite my suspicions, Mr. Rogers has no scandals related to him. However, he was a Presbyterian minister. Maybe that's it. I often find "men of the cloth" suspicious. Often, my suspicions have proven true…

  3. I don't think a fear has to be rational to be legitimate. While I'm only creeped out by clowns that deliberately try to look scary, I know so many people who are just plain-out terrified of them. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jeff!

  4. Stacy–Oddly enough, I don't think he did, not in the same way. I also remember my dentist had a couple of clown faces up on the wall of the waiting room that kept me pinned to my seat when I went there, and as late as fifth grade being wigged out a little by clowns. I don't know that I would have gotten my picture taken with RMcD, but thinking back, he didn't seem to bother me as much.

    Lexa: Technical term I have just learned is 'coulrophobia' for fear of clowns, though I think Bozophobia is appropriate here. Mr. Rogers was great (in my opinion). I never liked his puppet much.

    Bonnee–sorry, wasn't exactly a Liebster proper–my blog, my rules! Thanks for tagging me!

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