Sunday, May 10, 2009

WAG, part 11

“WAG #110: Scaredy-Cat” Another people-watching exercise! Choose a stranger and observe him/her for a little while. Now give them a phobia. A full-on, jump on the chair, scream like a little girl, unreasonable fear. (Or however you imagine them to respond.) Try to choose something that fits the person you’re watching, and let us know what it is about them that clued you in to their secret fear. The object is not just to describe the fear, but to make us understand why it fits with this particular person.
Special thanks to Christine Kirchoff for this week’s topic idea!

This is a true story:

He was a handsome man in his late thirties, thick dark hair, pretty brown eyes. He wore an expensive navy suit with a pale blue dress shirt and an understated blue patterned tie. An aura of power surrounded him. It should. He was the president of the local chamber of commerce. He'd spent years politicking, hand shaking, schmoozing business owners, lawyers, and local politicians. Bringing together the most powerful people in the community, he earned his position through two degrees and many hours at picnics, golf tournaments and coffees.
I sat at my desk and welcomed him one morning. He barely acknowledged me. His eyes held a sort of panic.
"If anyone asks for me, I'm not here." He made a bee-line for his office, went inside, closed and locked the door. Then he drew the blinds on the window between the main office and his.
Within minutes a chubby man with thinning hair wearing a rumpled dress shirt and slacks entered. His small blue eyes bounced around the room looking for someone. He ignored me and headed toward the president's secretary. They chatted for fifteen minutes. The flubby man's gaze kept traveling to the door as if he were waiting for someone. When the secretary mentioned she had to get back to work, he moved on to me. Introducing himself he held out his hand. I shook it. It was clammy and soft. He handed me his card. "Mr. Jingles, clown." Their was a picture of a clown face on it. I glanced up and could see that the flabby jowls did indeed match those of the clown.
He asked if I'd seen the chamber president today. I gave the standard line. "He's not in right now."
The clown/man studied me as if looking for the lie. Then smiled and made a punny joke and left the office.
When he was well and truly gone, I asked the secretary what that was all about.
"He's afraid of clowns," she said.
"The President?"
"Yep. He does this every time. "
"But the guy didn't have any makeup on..."
"It doesn't matter. Just the fact that the man is a professional clown gives him the heebee jeebees." She glanced at the locked door. "It'll be another hour before he comes out. It freaks him out that much." She looked into my eyes. "We'll keep this between ourselves, okay?"
"Okay." I studied the clown's business card for a moment then looked at the closed door. It never fails to amaze me what people fear. That a big handsome guy who is complete control of his community couldn't handle the thought that a man who played a clown might come into his office. There has to be a story behind that... don't you think?

To read all the other fine entries of the writer's adventure group and for information on how you can join in the fun visit Nixy Valentine's blog.


Christine Segina said...

I've always thought clowns were creepy. It is funny to think about someone who obviously can control most parts of his life but has a fear that so immobilizes him.

Christine Segina

Anonymous said...

I liked the bit of interaction you wrote about, because it tells a lot about both of the women in your story as much as the man they were talking about.

Great story

Sharon Donovan said...

I agree. I think clowns are creepy and they remind me of masked people at Mardy Gras. Who's under the face? And I would have to wonder if the man with the phobia had a childhood trauma of some sort with a clown.

Marsha said...

Ah! Clowns!

I love the phobia because it seems so out of sorts with the kind of man who shakes hands for a living.

Great job!

SueO said...

Yes, I saw it all! What a cool story!

I don't understand the clown phobia myself, but hey, any insect with long legs bothers me into an episode of helpless yelps and strange back-of-the-throat noises, so who am I to point fingers. (I'm fine with spiders, but keep walking sticks and preying manti away from me!)

Thank you for crafting this!

Iain Martin said...

Excellent subject, Nancy, and you did a wonderful job developing it by creating a sense of ddi(drama/danger/intrigue)

Frances said...

I found this very believable. My husband is not quite phobic about clowns, but he doesn't like them. He hates "Red Nose Day"! Well done!

Peter Spalton said...

LOL. How lovely, I wonder if it's the thought of the clown's big feet?

J. M. Strother said...

I can't back it up with citations to web sites or anything, but I do believe fear of clowns is the #1 phobia out there. My daughters told me that - learned it in high school Psychology class, and if it's taught in high school Psychology class it just has to be true. Right? Good thing Mr. C-of-C saw the clown coming. God knows what would have happened to the poor guy if the clown had caught him at unawares. You captured his phobia quite convincingly.

I am mentioning to all the WAGers this week a contest that might be of interest. Maria Schneider, of Editor Unleashed, is co-hosting a 1000 word or less flash fiction contest on her website. You might want to check it out.

Great WAG.

dan powell said...

Interesting that the phobia still affects your character, even though the clown is without his make-up. Clearly shows the overwhelming irrationality of phobias. Great piece.