Once, in a land very much like our own, there was a boy who liked to tell funny stories. He worked very hard to this, and with some work, began to find groups of people who enjoyed hearing the thing she had to say.
It happened that for a period of a year, he was able to travel to many of the far reaches in the kingdom, meeting new people, and enjoying the feeling of knowing that the stories he told were of interest to so many happy denizens of the king’s domain.
In his travels, the boy found others who enjoyed telling stories, some funny, others sad, but all sharing the commonality of a passion in the telling. And so it came to be that the boy felt his work, the many long nights building his work and deciding how best to tell the tales, came to mean something to himself and to others.
One particularly good week, the boy traveled to a gathering of tale-tellers in a distant part of the land he had never visited. It was a joyous occasion and the boy, who had never witnessed such a large banquet table of culinary delights, or drank quite as much in the company of peers, returned home from the trip refreshed and certain that all of his work had been worth it. He felt as if he belonged and that the little funny stories he built in his head had meaning.
When he returned home, however, he received disturbing news. There was some confusion as to the source of the boy’s stories. The boy asked an audience member he recognized from one of his shows what was happening. “A man is telling your stories. Or trying to, at least,” the old man said from behind his graying, tangled beard. “He’s set up shop at the Town Theatre.”
The boy, who felt a sinking in his belly that seemed to turn the tender flesh there to lead, gathered his things and went to the Theatre. Once there, he found a horrific site. An oafish man in tattered clothes stood on the stage and was standing completely still. He had tufts of matted green hair, a mouth like an apocalypse and eyes deader than a tomb. Instead of telling a funny story, or relating an experience from life, as was the custom at the Town Theatre, the man simply stood on the stage. After a few minutes, he offered to take audience members to another Theatre where they might hear more amusing stories. He also offered to sell audience members information on where they might find amusing tale-tellers.
The boy’s eyes filled with tears. For as long as he remembered, almost since he could talk and write, had had dreamed of performing on such a stage. And when he had first begun to speak and to build an audience, he had found it exhilarating, the fulfillment of that faraway dream. At that moment, he felt his dream defiled, the beauty of the stage transformed to a garish debasement. The boy watched the audience carefully. Many of them whispered to each other, seemingly confused, unsure if they should stay or go. Some got up abruptly and left the Theatre, perhaps never to return. The man on the stage didn’t seem to mind. It was enough, it seemed to the boy, that the man had gotten a small audience for a short time, however deceitfully.
“That’s what he does,” the Theatre’s manager said, surprising the boy as he emerged from a curtain separating the audience from the lobby entrance. “He goes to theaters, waits until the tale-tellers leave, and demands to take the stage. Once there, he doesn’t leave until he’s taken the spirit of a stage. Most of the Theatres close down soon after.”
“Has no one tried to push the man off, to take him away?” the boy asked.
“Some have tried, but what’s the point? It’s him they’ll remember,” the manager said, arcing a huge, crooked thumb to the dwindling audience. “The man who ruined their show. Most will come back, but others won’t. And it will be tough to rid the stage of his stink.”
The boy watched, wordlessly. He had spent the last year of his life enjoying people. Liking the sound of their laughter, wanting to know more about them. He had never known someone like this – someone who would destroy someone else’s work, make themselves a pest, exist only to take what didn’t belong to them and try to somehow convince audiences that they were somehow worth seeing.
He watched for a few minutes longer, the boy.
He knew there were other Theatres that would have him, other places to perform. He could even tell the same stories he’d crafted. They were his own stories to tell, after all. But something about being on the stage would feel different to the boy . It would be tainted for him, knowing that there were people like that out there: the jackals who waited for their opportunity to overtake and to destroy.
The boy remembered a word his friend Mical Trejo had once used. A funny word at the time, but one that seemed to fit. “Shitclown.” That was what this man was. A large, fetid Shitclown.
For the rest of his days, the boy promised himself as he walked out of the Town Theatre, he would watch the stage before he left it, making sure it was set only for him and other storytellers. He felt sorry for The Shitclown. To have a stage and have nothing to say, to find a performance space and to have nothing interesting in the heart to do or say... What an empty existence that must be.
And as painful as it might be to say goodbye to his favorite stage, the boy vowed never to fear The Shitclown.
For those of you that have found your way here, thanks. It seems strange to have to say that, to be thankful that people would know where to find this site because since its start, it was always in the same place, right over there, ready to be typed in or clicked on. With just the change of a hypen, from terriblyhappy.com to terribly-happy.com, it seems like the whole scope of this place has changed, and I find myself feeling grateful to those who are willing to take the extra nanoseconds to type that hyphen or to change the address in their links.
Shitclowns, we must always remember, can be a monumental pain in the ass.
I’m on vacation this week. Mostly, I plan to just stay home, relax, hit the gym, watch lots of TV, do some writing, maybe find a house to buy. Next week or soon after, I’ll be starting my new job at my newspaper. I can’t really say what that job is right this second, but as soon as it’s safe, I’ll let you in on it. But I am very excited about it, and it is a huge change. I really can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week, then, is an interesting transition week. I’m neither here nor there. I’m not in the job just passed and I’m not quite in the job about to start. It’s a whimsical place of in-between and flux, but for once I’m embracing it instead of worrying.
My recap of the first episode of Smallville went up late last week, right in the middle of the domain name debacle. Please check it out if you’re even remotely interested in Superman. Or if you’re not. Also, there's the recap of Enterprise that I did, venturing boldly into scary Star Trek territory. Those trekkies, man. Be afraid. And while you’re over there, check out Pamie’s recaps of Gilmore Girls, and especially, Popstars: Season II. A lot of us have never really recovered from losing Squishy, but getting to read so much of Pamie at MightyBigTV is a nice way to make up for it.
I still want to tell you about the Bjork concert, but I’ll save that maybe for next time. Before you miss it, though, if you have HBO, check your listings for “Reverb.” They’re showing a chunk of one of Bjork’s recent performances in a small theater, with the orchestra and the choir, and you get a really good taste. You might still be able to catch it tonight.
And that's it. It's good to be back.
Hey, look at this! Stuff to buy! Haaawwwt-Damn!
"Well, we can't fish and watch the big game at the same time. Hey... wait a minute. I've got a crazy idea!"