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'The Clown Noses'

August 28, 2011|By Leslie A. M. Smith
  • "Clown Noses"
"Clown Noses" (Steven Corvelo )

As soon as my cousin Jennifer arrived for her visit, I asked, "What do you want to do?"

You see, I had no idea what we would do. Usually we picked fruit from our orchard. But the apples were still hard and green.

She responded, "What are your mom and dad doing?"

"Nothing," I said. "Parents are boring."

"What did you say?" asked my mom.

"Nothing!" Jennifer and I said together. "We're just bored."

"I saw a tree with ripe fruit near the clearing. Why don't you go check it out?" my mom suggested.

"OK," I sighed. Jennifer and I trudged to the center of the orchard.

When we reached the clearing,

we saw it — the tree my mom was talking about ? full of bright, red, round apples. Or what we thought were apples.

Then, Vrrooom! We heard something roaring toward us.

We crouched behind a box. A tiny bright yellow car with hot pink flowers on it pulled up to the clearing.

The motor quit and the trunk popped open. Loud circus music spilled into the air and clowns began to climb out. Fifty of them! Fat, skinny, tall and short.

A trumpet sounded. A man with a top hat and a tuxedo slid down the tree trunk and blew a whistle.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the main event." The clowns roared with cheers, whistles and horns.

"You have earned the right to have a real clown nose grown from this very tree before you. We expect you to take pride in your nose as the symbol of the official clowns of Clown College. We will now say the clown pledge."

"I cheerily pledge to make people laugh and to sweep away sorrow. I will be happy today and every tomorrow."

"Congratulations to you all!" the ringmaster said.

He called each by name — from Aldo to Zepper — to pick a nose off the tree and add it to his or her own face to end the ceremony as an official clown.

The clowns got back into their little cars with their brand new noses, honked their horns, and sped away.

The ringmaster blew his whistle and a taxi zoomed right up to his feet. He got in and sped away too.

"I can't believe any of that really just happened. What was it?" she asked.

"I think it was a clown graduation," I said looking for the cars down the aisles of apple trees.

"Why here?" Jennifer asked.

"I don't know, but our parents will never believe us," I explained as we trudged back to the house.

"Hi ladies," my mom greeted us. "What have you been doing?"

Jennifer offered, "You might say that we've been clowning around." We giggled.

"It sounds to me like you have cheerily pledged to make people laugh, Jennifer," my mom said.

"What?" Jennifer and I asked.

"Oh, nothing," she said. "Wash your hands for dinner."

Dinner was on the table so Jennifer and I sat down to wait for my parents. As soon as we sat, we heard that crazy circus music blare into the room. Da-da-da-ta-la-ta-da-duh, lot-de-da-da-dot-de-da-da.

My parents came in juggling bowling pins while hula-hooping. They wore big, baggy outfits with fuzzy pom-poms and had full clown faces with official red clown noses.

"You're clowns?" I was astonished.

"Yes," my mom said.

"Retired clowns," my dad corrected. "We gave up the big top and bought the orchard when we had you."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked.

"Would you have believed us?" they asked.

"No!" Jennifer and I both shouted.

"And you thought they were boring," Jennifer whispered.

For the rest of her visit, Jennifer and I learned how to make people laugh.

Special thanks to Steven Corvelo for his illustration. To see more of his work, visit

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