McDowell Technical Community College

Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge


By Brent Price, Outreach Programs

Mitchell  County

We are living in challenging times, to say the least. Sometimes in the midst of life’s struggles and tragedy we desperately need something to make us smile, chuckle or perhaps laugh out loud. Laughter is a gift from God and perhaps this story will deliver on God’s gift.

While attending college in Greensboro I worked for a singing telegram service. Belly Business posted an ad in their window that said, “clowns needed” and I applied for the job. After a short “interview” the owner hired me and booked my first party.

Make-up, funny shoes, red nose. Address in hand, balloons in the back seat, prepared to bring laughter to children everywhere. There was just one little problem— a problem that I didn’t know was a problem. A problem that was waiting to ambush me smack in the middle of my mission to spread joy to a world ready to eat lots of cake.

News flash. A significant number of three to five-year-old children are horrified by clowns. I entered the party smiling, singing and carrying fistfuls of balloons. Children screamed and cried. Panic broke out. One child tried to climb up his mother’s leg. Another took refuge under the kitchen table and clung to the tablecloth when his mother tried to pull him out. It was not a pretty sight. We all entered therapy as soon as we could get an appointment.

When I returned to the office my boss was eager to know how things had gone. Well, needless to say, I did not have a good report. She called the client who voiced satisfaction even though the children were “a little afraid.” For now, my job was secure.

My next assignment— another birthday party. My boss suggested to the excited mother that perhaps the children would enjoy a visit from a superhero. “Wonderful idea. All the children love Superman.”

Once again, I prepared to enter the unpredictable world of children’s birthday parties. I parted my hair on the side just like the Man of Steel, removed my Clark Kent glasses and entered the celebration prepared to save planet Earth. The children were beside themselves. They laughed. They wanted to touch my cape. I held them for pictures. Held two on each knee. Held three. Held them all at once while standing on one leg!

Superman was a hit. No children had been traumatized or scarred for life. They all had pictures for show-and-tell and once again— my job was secure. But not so quickly, Man of Steel.

On my way to the car I turned to the house and saw all the children plastered against the front window ready to witness my departure. Didn’t see that one coming. However, it’s amazing how fast you can think when you have to.

Smiling and waving, I ran past my parked car. With raised hands in that classic Superman pose, I leaped out of sight. Well, it might not have worked on you, but they thought it was pretty impressive.

Now, I had to get back to my car. Crouching on the opposite side of the street, I inched my way back to the passenger door of my old brown Ambassador. I eased the door open, slipped inside, hunkered under the steering wheel and resumed my life as a mild-mannered student.

I guess it really doesn’t take much to create a little bit of wonder and a whole lot of joy.