As you might have guessed from my rant about Raquel, my living situation wasn´t the greatest. I truly got lucky to have Victor take me in on good faith because under normal circumstances renting an apt is freaking hard and expensive in Rosario. At the same time I was living with two older men, two dogs, and a crazy lady. After a month in the devil´s lair I started looking for a way out. By the end of month 2, it looked like I had portentially found that way.
My Portuguese teacher was going back to Brazil for teh holidays and was going to be vacating her room in a house. I had been to the hosue before and it was where I had my first lesson. THe room was interesting to say the least.....it had no windows, a very old and VERY discolored mattress and a door connecting it to another room. The person who lived behind this door didn´t have a door to get to the rest of the house, so they had to come through this room or a different one.....not exactly the best design for a house. Mi, my teacher, didn´t even sleep in the room. She slept in a tent on the terrace.
Taking over her room sounded too good to be true because I would be living with people my age, and I´d get a chance to really dive into Argentine culture. See what they see(soccer), eat what they eat(steak), drink what they drink(mate), laugh, cry, the whole nine yards. The cherry on top........no dogs!!!!!!!!
Of course me moving in for me was easier said than done. The application process required me to meet the other three inhabitants to see if I would be a good match. Oh, and there was one, small, tiny, serendipitous detail that threw a jazzy twist into the mix; they were clowns.
All this time I thought Clown College was a joke. Straight up Joe Pesci style from Goodfellas, am I a clown, here to ammuse you shi.......but no, it is real, and it is no laughing matter. The interview process was five fold. They had prepared a series of tests for me to complete. In order for me to get Mi´s room, I needed to pass three out of the five categories.
Test 1: Juggling- The core of clownism
The foundation of everything just and holy. Three balls slightly larger than baseballs had to be juggled for three consecutive minutes while singing your favorite clown jingle. I chose the doot doot dooodoooodooodooo, doot doot dooodoodoooodoo one. You know, the one Homer sings to himself when he thinks about the ballet. He says how he loves the ballet and imagines a bear in a leatard driving a car in a circus with the doot doot music in his head. Regardless, I was permitted two drops, and since I hadn´t juggled in years, they were kind enough to not reset the clock after each drop. Although I was rusty, and used up all of my drops, juggling really is like riding a bike and I passed. If only it were like riding a unicycle......
Test 2: Unicyle- A clowns transportation
A San Franciscan to their Prius. A Cowboy to his horse. A criminal to their skateboard. A clown to his unicyle. My task was to ride 4 meters down the hallway unassited. Failed. I couldn´t even balance on it, let alone take two pedals without falling. My pride definitely took a knock. Who knows, maybe I wasn´t meant to be a clown. Maybe it was all the beer they fed me.....Maybe it was my natural lack of balance. Maybe I didn´t try hard enough. Maybe I didn´t have the courage needed to accomplish such a simple task. I mean, I´ve been to many a duck basketball game where I´ve seen little kids. I mean kids so young they can probably barely speak, or use the bathroom by themselves, but one thing is certain, they can ride a unicycle for 4 freaking meters!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Test 3: Balloon Animals- A clowns pet
I was given a mixture of ballons and needed to make three different animals. Now, these guys had no idea that my grandparents are in the balloon business, and that I spent summers working in their balloon store. During those long summer days, slaving away in the shop, I picked up a thing or two about balloon handling. My animals were very thought out, the characters well developed and perfectly executed. I made an earthworm, a snake, and a legless salamander. I thought it was creative, unique and that the most important part of the task was to use your immagination. Apparently not. I was told that in the old school clown communities people have been tickled to the point of self defacation for similar assumptions. Like I said before, this was no laughing matter. Failed.
Test 4: Mimery- A clowns companion
By this time I was getting a bit sweaty. My juggling skills were top notch, but after bombing the next two tests, I was stuck inbetween a rock and a tight spot. I felt like the first clown that got into the car and then ten or twenty more piled in to perform the hilarious stunt of 11 or 21 clowns coming out of a normal looking car. My task was to do two minutes of my best mimes. Advantage Scott because I had recently watched BASEketball and there was a part when Coop gets the psych out as a mime. My routine was simple. I did the trapped in a box, the pretend to post up and chill on a wall, but you are actually leaning on nothing, the two fists over the eys that immitate crying, rowing a canoe, the robot with dangling arm, I yelled at someone across the room but did not make a sound and my grand finale was getting stuck in the box, again. My immitations were poor at best, but where I lacked in skill, I made up in determination. I WASN´T going back to Victor and Raquel´s joint. Passed.
Test 5: Mind bullets- A clowns power to move you
The last test, not one of brute force or power.....which would have easily been surpassed, but a test of wits. The modern day clown is a thinking mans clown. You can´t rely anymore on the old slip on a banana peel. Those days are long gone. Sensless acts of self destruction are dead and nowadays you need to be three or four steps ahead of the audience. You MUST rely on all of your five senses, sometimes your sixth or seventh. Clown law states that a good clown doesn´t really know why he does anything. Which brings us to my last challenge; a test of wits. I watched with anticipation as my three potential roomates filled three pie tins full of whipped cream. Apparently if I truly wanted to be a part of the house, I had to stand still while one by one they went up and slammed a pie in my face. 3 pies for the three L´s: laughter, love, and life.
My tryout was almost complete. I´d experienced earth shattering highs and back breaking lows. Even though I was pumped and thinking positive, you can´t let your emotions get the best of you. Not when you´re dealing with clowns, cause they are so unpredictable. I had a little convo with Pablo, the top clown and master of my fate....
´People are going to laugh at you. People are going to think you´re funny. Can you handle this? Are you ready to be a clown? It isn´t too late to give up. You won´t be the first and you certainly won´t be the last.....´
`I told you I´m not going back there. You don´t know what happens in the dark. I´ve been to hell and back. I know I have what it takes. I believe in myself.....´
`That´s all I needed to hear.´ And then one by one I got lit up by whipped cream pies from each of my prospective roomates. One put powdered sugar in it too, the lice hate it, and yes, it was delicious.
The tests had finally come to an end. I was still standing, fairly contious, and had all of my clothes on. So, in many ways, I was victorious......even if I wasn´t offered the room.
And you want to know a funny thing about that fateful night? It didn´t happen anyway close to how I just described it. This is just a tribute, to how a real clown interview should have gone.
They did however ask me if I wanted to eat a stuffed monkey and then made a whole bunch of weird communal noises and started stomping their feet and yelling and told me that if I was to move in I would need to bring a stuffed animal. What can I say? They are clowns. That was no joke. All that is left to do is hope that I will be living with the people who juggle and do other random tricks for cars at red lights......