Wilbur, bearded and wonderful, popped out of the
boys locker room to the right of the stage. The
restive audience grew quiet. Wilbur shuffled
slowly across the polished surface of the gymnasium
floor, eyes wide, and mind vacant. He then disappeared
into the girls locker room to the left of the stage. A few
titters of laughter rippled through the crowd.
Several moments of time passed. We all expected to
see him appear up on the stage. Instead, once again
he popped out of the boys locker room. This time to
gales of laughter. Wilbur turned to face the audience,
eyes wider than ever, his head tilted at an impossible
angle on his neck. Why are they laughing, he seemed
He did an about face and stumbled up the stairs and
was at last in his proper place: on stage.
Wilbur was in trouble and the audience loved it.
Once on stage the bearded wonder treated us to
the magic of illusion and the unexpected. He led
our minds and we eagerly followed. Wilbur clowned
and mimed for us for nearly an hour.
“Time flies like arrows,” he said to me later.
“You betcha!” I replied.
He dressed for the occasion in an old brown overcoat,
rumpled and worn. He had great fun getting out of it.
And so did we watching him. His pockets became as
birds; taking on a life of their own. When it wouldn’t
hang in mid-air as surely I thought it would, he selected
one of us at random to hang his hat and coat upon.
He wore baggy grey trousers and charcoal suspenders,
blue sneakers, and a wrinkled black tee shirt. His hat
was of old brown felt and was quite misshapen.
Although, I am sure, at one time it was worn by someone
with great dignity and aplomb. It was that kind of hat.
Wilbur never said a word, but we knew what he was about.
He became a cow. Then he milked it.
He became a frog. Then he choked to death on his tongue.
He became a surgeon and performed a heart transplant.
Then he took us on a fantastic voyage through the human
body. From anal passage to nasal passage. From stem to
stern. He did hand over hands on the rib cage.
Wilbur ate fire in the dark. He juggled brightly colored balls
In the bright white light. He lost his pants and treated us to
a view of his shocking pink boxers. Then he threatened all of
our lives by balancing first a large wooden plank on his hairy
chin. Then a long aluminum step ladder. We all sensed the
danger and shrunk down in our seats. Soon the danger was
over and Wilbur was back on stage pulling yet another bit of
magic from his bag of tricks.
“Wilbur was my first clown name,” he said proudly after the
show. Whereupon he stepped gingerly to the other side of
the room and neatly lifted off the top of Notre Dame and
peered into the darkness below to see what he could see.
I just smiled.