As I slipped the long, flimsy tickets out of the narrow envelope, my heart sank. They were small, rectangular and devastating. I tried not to let it show on my face since Shelly was still looking at me.
Her wide eyes were full of excitement. She hardly seemed able to sit still.
The set of four tickets fanned out and I stared at them intently.
I didn’t want to look up. I was afraid she would see the horror in my eyes as easily as I could see her anticipation.
The bright, primary colors swirled along the edges of the tickets. In large, bold letters they spoke of the clowns that would be there, performing on the date scrawled upon the left hand margin. The penmanship tried to be whimsical but it looked more like a child had gotten hold of the tickets with a dull crayon.
I flipped them over, and tried to look enthralled, as if some other hidden wonder was on the other side. I hope frantically that maybe it would say “Gottcha” or “Just Kidding” in Sherry’s more meticulous hand writing. But what I found were little caricatures of the performers silhouetted against a barrage of red, yellow and blue colored balloons.
I flipped them back over and tried to keep my hands from trembling.
There were four which could only mean one thing. Shelly didn’t have to voice the idea. I knew what the gift intended and it didn’t end with just watching the clowns at work. Four tickets meant me, my husband and Shelly’s two children.
My sister wanted us to get to know them. She had been voicing that since we moved out west. The fact that we didn’t have to listen to their shrieks, their temper tantrums, or be forced to endure their center of the world attitudes, had been a bonus.
But now, these tickets meant an evening of enduring just that. It would mean a tent full of screaming youngsters. Attempting to rein in Shelly’s darlings would only be half the battle. I’d have to keep myself smiling while watching the painted faces of the “Tumbling Trio”.
Their tickets suggested an evening of physical humor that appealed to the younger crowd. Most likely that meant a barrage of fart jokes, tripping over their own feet or running into ever conceivable obstacle with a tumble towards the floor. I’m sure they did good work but really, it wasn’t for me.
If any of this had been, I would have suggested the outing. I probably would have bought the tickets too. Instead, I was facing the whole package as a present I couldn’t find a way to decline. My sister was sinister that way.