This year’s trendy Halloween safety tip is: Do NOT forget the red balloon, if you go out dressed as a clown.
Last year’s safety tip, as you may recall, was: Do NOT go out dressed as a clown.
That’s because people dressed like clowns were freaking out everyone, last year: Clowns reportedly were coming out of the woods in South Carolina, beckoning children from nearby apartments to come into the shadow of the trees.
That’s how it started, anyway. Pretty soon creepy clown reports were popping up like jacks-in-the-box all over: Clowns in the city. Clowns in the country. Clowns to left of me. Jokers to the right.
A local sheriff wasn’t joking last Halloween when he advised residents to lay off the clown costumes, as everyone carrying a firearm for his or her own personal protection was ready to shoot a clown on sight.
That was then
Well, now the clown crisis has passed, and … well, that particular clown crisis has passed, anyway, and this year Halloween follows the much-hyped Stephen King movie “It,” with its iconic evil clown.
So, we can’t expect people not to act like clowns anymore.
We can remind them, however, that maybe not everyone with a gun got the news that the clown crisis has pas— … that clown costumes are back in style.
So, if you’re going to dress like Pennywise, the evil clown from “It,” you need the signature red helium balloon on a string. You don’t have to crawl into the sewer, but you do need the balloon.
If you do not have the balloon, someone with an itchy trigger finger isn’t going to think you are the embodiment of a malevolent alien force that preys upon children’s darkest fears, like in the movie. They’re going to think you’re just a creepy pervert and shoot you.
Any clown without a red balloon either better be 8 years old with a bag of candy or accompanied by a Shriner in a fez on the way to the circus.
Speaking of whimsical circus clowns, you might wonder how all this clown terror gets packed into people’s heads until something triggers it to pour out like harlequins from a tiny car.
Clowns can be heroes, like the harlequin who disrupts a rigidly punctual world in the dystopian science-fiction story, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.” Ticktockman deducted time from one’s life for being late. The harlequin threw the schedule off seven minutes by dumping jelly beans on workers during a shift change.
Clowns also can be conjured from evil minds, as in the case of “Pogo the Clown,” whom Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy played for parties and parades back in the 1970s, before police learned he killed about 30 people and buried most of them in his crawlspace.
It’s that potential co-mingling of opposites – evil disguised as whimsy – that scares people: Maybe the eyes behind the painted smile are demonic instead of delighted. Maybe they’re both.
No one with a sidearm’s letting you close enough to see your eyes, if you’re a clown with no red balloon: If you’re not Pennywise, you’re Pogo the Clown.
Making up clown names is fun, isn’t it? All you have to do is add “the Clown,” and it’s good to go: Tickles the Clown, Snotty the Clown, Diddlin the Clown, Bedbugs the Clown, Downtown Brown the Uptown Clown.
No wonder people are tempted to go rogue, and leave the red balloon behind.
Safer Halloween options are available, this year – disguises that won’t make the neighbors click off the safety and tell everyone inside to get down, when they see you coming.
Lots of trendy costumes would look less threatening. You could go dressed as Donald Trump, for example. Or Kim Jong-un. Someone like that.