When asked what I am afraid of, I will list two things: Snakes and clowns.
I am afraid of snakes because I was raised Catholic and snakes are inherently evil creatures. Also, I have seen snakes up close, and they are creepy. Animals should have feet.
My fear of clowns, however, is a bit more complicated. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I have a general discomfort around clowns. I do not have the type of real phobia that would make me run screaming from the room when I see a clown, but I will definitely fade into the background if I am sharing the same breathing space with one. I could point to a time when a clown was invited to my birthday party and he freaked me out a bit, but I think overall that I am uncomfortable with the unnaturalness of clowns: The makeup, the over-zealous expressions, the over-the-top clothing. It's too much chaos for me.
But I understand that the element of chaos is why so many children like clowns. Clowns perform physical comedy like cartoons, they make fun of adults and their clothes do not match in a similar style to a young child who is learning how to dress themselves for the first time.
In this long piece by NY Magazine, we get a glimpse into the life of a clown - a really good clown - and how he has had to adapt his act in a world of adults who claim that they are afraid of clowns.
So there. I've said it. I am not afraid of clowns, but I am not comfortable around them either. The trick is not letting my son see my discomfort so that he can make up his own mind. I don't want him to inherit my fears.
(I'm still scared of snakes though.)
Are clowns funny or scary? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.