Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com
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Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Bring on the fire eaters, the shell games, the jugglers, the sword swallowers, the dancing bears (never mind, we already have the Dancing Bears). Bring on the high-wire walkers ” string the wires between the cranes.

Bring on the brass bands, the music students, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the guitar-playing hippies. Turn on Nick’s fountain, let in the dogs and we’ll all frolic this summer in the Mall, and if it will bring back the old King of Hearts spirit to Aspen, we should do it all the time, not just in hard times.

But do we have to have mimes?

Mimes frighten the children with their silence and black starred eyes. They do little skits and, except for being trapped behind an imaginary glass wall (creepy in itself), I can never understand what they’re pretending to be doing. They wear cute little costumes that contrast with their sad, downturned mouths.

I would draw the line at the real clowns making animals out of squeaky balloons but hey, I’m not a total party poop. Bring in the clowns if people want clowns. But MIMES? Are we really going to pay mimes to come here?

If you get caught by a mime and it starts doing its act and you’re the only one there, can you walk away? How much are you supposed to tip a mime? Will a bigger tip make it stop?

About a decade ago my daughter Skye called to ask if I’d like to go to see Marcel Marceau, who was making an unprecedented appearance at the school’s district theater. Marcel Marceau, the venerable creme de la creme of mimes, the ultimate mime of the world ” what an opportunity!

I said, “Skye, I would rather be skinned alive, chopped to little pieces and ground up in the garbage disposal than to sit in a cramped theater for two hours watching Marcel Marceau.”

So, she took her daughter Riley, then 8, to see the Master of Mime.

Riley is the most good-natured child I have ever known and at that age, except for a phobia about zucchini squash, she was happily up for just about anything; she was of course delighted at the prospect of seeing the famous mime, Marcel Marceau, and I did nothing to poison the well.

The following day Skye reported that Riley had wept quietly throughout the entire show. She didn’t sob, or demand to leave, could not even find the words to explain her agony, but of course it was the agony of the mime.

I don’t know why I have such a strong reaction to mimes either, but I could identify with Riley’s anguish. How many more miming skits, lord ” just get me out of here, take me away from here. Perhaps it’s genetic.

I’ve had a hurdy gurdy history, traveling with puppeteers and longing to escape my youth for life under the Big Top, so I’m all for enlivening the Mall, just not for enlivening it with mimes.

A gaggle of southern snake-handlers, however, could really gather the crowds.


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