The paper read: Local Couple Runs Away and Joins the Circus! My father had been named the new the drummer for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, and my bombshell of a new stepmother had been named “local gal.” Together they moved into a 10 x 10 stateroom on the circus train, and rode off into the sunset.
My introduction to her happened shortly before they left town to claim their circus fame and fortune. It was in a broken-down house on a dirt road in Franklin, North Carolina with worms in the yard. They were the good kind that squirm around in your hands – not the invisible kind that end up in your butt. I befriended one, and after a long day of playing I thought he might appreciate a nice warm bath. He disintegrated into a gritty brown lather right there in my tiny hands. I was destroyed.
I would normally seek comfort in my dad, who was very good at managing chaos and murder, but he was teaching band at the local high school.
My only refuge was the local gal. When I screamed for her, she sashayed into the bathroom in her hip-huggers and crocheted top and looked at me blankly.
There is nothing like loss coupled with nonchalant rejection to elicit a thirst for revenge that takes a lifetime to achieve. After only our third day together, a cold war had been silently declared.
I started out each morning with a heart full of five-year-old malice and tortured her for hours. Making scenes in public and refusing to be seated in the car were two of my favorites. I even called her a “mother fucker” a time or ten. When she threatened to tell my father, I began mouthing the cuss words so I wasn’t technically speaking them.
Then my dad would come home and I magically returned to my angelic state. She tearfully recounted to him all the horrifying events of our day and I feigned wild disbelief and injustice. He hugged us both and changed the subject.
Luckily for her, once we arrived at the circus there were enough lavish costumes, exotic animals, and circus stars to distract me from my earlier commitment to her misery. Like every girl, my lust for lashes began at birth. This lust increased and grew wings the first time I saw one of the showgirls backstage. She was in full make-up with those fabulous giant lashes, wearing a Vegas style head-piece overflowing with a fountain of feather boas. There is nothing more glamorous.
My love of make-up and all things glittery forced me to set aside my hatred for my step-mother. I volunteered to apply her eye make-up before the show one day. Three beautiful rows of perfectly blended shimmery shadow, complimented with delicate sprays of tiny gold and silver stars sweeping out to her temples. It was gorgeous.
This noble act of using her face for my own selfish desires led to the turning pointing in our relationship. She gave me my first pair of false eyelashes to say thank you. I was overwhelmed with joy and had them perfectly glued to my eye lids in under four minutes. We batted our giraffe-sized eyelashes at one another like two doe-eyed idiots, and a genuine truce was quietly called. At last, we had finally found our common ground in the vapid and unnecessary.