by MIKE TODD
If you’re going to decapitate a clown, the best advice I can offer is to try not to decapitate one that has sentimental value to your wife.
I found this out the hard way about eight years ago, when we were moving into our first house, which was the size of many people’s first Tupperware. I leaned a rug against the wall, which seemed like a harmless thing to do, until two hours later, when the rug slid and landed squarely on a ceramic figurine of two clowns that I’d never noticed before, smashing the head of the formerly happy guitar-playing one.
When Kara came into the room to see me sweeping up the carnage, she started to cry. It’s true what they say: there’s nothing sadder than a headless clown.
“I know it’s silly, but I’ve had those clowns since I was a little kid,” she said, picking up the now-macabre knick-knack and rotating the base. When she let go, the figurine played “Send in the Clowns” as it slowly spun on the floor, a strangely wistful song for a kid’s toy, as if it knew things weren’t going to end well.
I dumped the clown-head shards from the dustpan into a baggie, tucking it aside as if someday, armed with some Elmer’s Glue-All, I’d reassemble the seven million fragments. Over time, I came to accept that even a best-case scenario would have the reanimated clown looking like a character in a horror movie. Once you’ve decapitated something like that, it’s very difficult to recapitate it.
A few days ago, just before our eighth anniversary, our son Evan found the headless clown on a bookshelf in the guest room, where we’d put it to remind our guests what happens if they step out of line.
The eighth anniversary is the pottery anniversary, and my attempts to get Kara to start smoking so that I could make her an ashtray had failed. Replacing her beloved and beheaded clown, though, was the perfect gift idea.
Finding a 30-year-old musical clown on eBay took about three minutes. An hour later, the auction was over, and the figurine, a perfect match, was mine.
If you want to be a thoughtful gift giver, it turns out that a really effective method is to destroy your significant other’s sentimental objects so that you can replace them eight years later. It’s called playing the long game.
We needed a little romance this year, too, since we spent our anniversary with our infant and our constipated three-year-old.
“Gotta go poo poo!” Evan yelled, prancing in place to celebrate his parents’ big day. We were in the woods behind our house, turning over rocks to find critters. We had just hit the mother lode: a salamander. When Evan stopped paying attention to it, I could tell the situation was serious.
“Let’s go!” I said, scooping Evan up, already running as I slung him over my shoulder. Evan had been using the potty exclusively for about two weeks, and I had no intention of having his first accident be on my shoulders.
Like a great freight train, we barreled across the backyard; CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA gotta go POO POO!
“What’s going on?” Kara asked as the door flew open and we stormed past.
“AAAAHHHHH!” Evan replied in a volume that caused a volcano to erupt in Italy.
Skidding into the bathroom, I dropped Evan to his feet and yanked his shorts down.
“Did we make it? Did we make it?” I asked.
Evan looked at me as if I was slightly unhinged.
“Don’t hafta go,” he said.
Someday, our anniversaries will once again be marked with nice dinners. Until then, all I can do is wait and maybe rip the arms off of Kara’s old teddy bears.