Circus Time

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

One is never too old to be wide eyed at the circus. I found that out when my fellow and I were invited to Teatro ZinZanni recently. Just the thought of going to the circus venue again brought back memories of my childhood when the circus would come to our little town of Chehalis. During the day I could look out the south window in the upstairs of my home and see animals grazing. At night I could see the southern stars. But in the summer there would be the excitement of watching the big circus tent rise, enticing us little town residents to venture out on Riverside Road to experience the wonderful circus acts inside the big top.

Now fast forward to the city of Seattle under the wonderful circus tent at Teatro ZinZanni. Four of us sat being waited on as a parade of servers carried in each dinner course—first soup, then salad and then main dish ending with Baklava. In the center aisle the aerialists performed unbelievable acts of rope climbing and contortionists bent their bodies into impossible shapes. The marvelous head of ceremonies drew audience members to center stage and they became part of the act. And guess who was drawn out into the center of the big tent—yes, me. Most of those who had already been on stage were compliant but I held my own. When told that we were going to dance I remarked, “I don’t dance with anyone but dance rock and roll all by myself.” The M.C. didn’t give up and was determined to plant a kiss on my cheek but I politely pulled away and said, “Only my fellow gets to kiss me.” as I disappeared back into the audience.

When we started down the center aisle to go home, many people were still finishing their drinks and when they saw this gutsy old “lady” strutting out they all cheered and called out my name—Georgie--Georgie. Leave it to me to make my mark wherever I go. After all, age has its perks and one is to be true to oneself. Never let anyone steer you into any action that is not comfortable. As we walked out we expressed our amazement at how many hours we had been entertained. There were aerialists and comics whose circus life requires them to move from city to city as they practice their craft and display it so skillfully night after night in the arena. I am still reeling from this extravaganza providing a delightful evening.

To remember the event I was given a color picture of the master of ceremonies posing with me—both of us smiling. The head of ceremonies dominated the picture with his huge red lips, accentuated moustache and hair streaked with vivid color. But that was not the end of my excitement recently. Later that week I ventured out onto the comedy stage again and my friend who accompanied me there remarked that I got the most applause of anyone. And I did it all without using any foul language. Laughter doesn’t have to be stimulated by toilet humor. I prove that every time I go on stage. If I had known my talent for entertaining earlier in life I probably would have been a circus performer myself instead of in the classroom teaching young children. But in a sense a teacher has to be a performer of sorts to interest dozens of children all cooped up in one room all day, right? I have decided after all these years to find my way back into the classroom to share my lifetime stories. In times past, grandparents lived on the farm with the young ones and storytelling was a usual pastime. Let’s bring back storytelling and sharing oral history. Fortunately, the Log Cabin Museum is helping to preserve our area history, hurray.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at or 206-935-8663.

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