The drum roll begins with the first strains of “Circus,” the music theme. The trombones, clarinets, and saxophones sing their merry strains; the audience expectantly waits, while I look around for a way to escape, as a mouse caught in a trap. I’m wondering how I managed to get myself in this position of modeling a floral float at the Teleflora Headdress Ball at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle in front of this huge crowd and TV cameras.
Oh yes, I remember now, I had always wanted to model, but I was too shy. So, my life changed when my friend, Carol, saying to her parents who owned a small Telefloral shop, “Gwynn’s tall, she could wear a sizeable headdress.” What I do for friendship. Now visualize the Rose Bowl Parade and all those gorgeous floats covered with flowers. I am about to wear one of those on my head.
The theme of my hat is “Under the Big Top” and I’m about to put a six foot wide, three-ring circus, as a hat on my head. I have a bareback horse rider in one ring, a trapeze artist in the second ring, with a lion tamer in the center ring directly over my head. The clown above the caged lion is holding a dozen helium balloons floating six feet over my head. I forgot to mention, the lion happens to be a 9 week old kitten, sitting in the cage frantically meowing, “Let me out of here!”
By now my knees are shaking, my hands are sweating, but I’m more worried about the pool under my arms overflowing and running down my sides. I’m petrified. Yet, my brain frantically churns as I work on convincing myself that I CAN DO THIS!
Since I’m supposed to be wearing a circus hat, we decided that I would pretend to be a tightrope walker out on the stage. Someone handed me a ten foot pole just before it was my turn to head down the runway facing the crowd of people in the packed ballroom. Now picture a “Y” shaped ramp and runway. We are to enter from one side of the stage, walk down the ramp, and return on the other side of the stage. What no one thought about was that fact that the orchestra was seated in the open space of that “Y” with their music stands and instruments inches from where I’m walking. Now, not only do I have to balance the floral float on my head, but I also have to worry about not wiping out the musicians, their music and music stands, and instruments in one fatal stroke. Both the musicians and I realized the problem simultaneously when I rounded the corner from back stage onto the runway, as their eyes bugged out in fear for their lives. I managed to lift my pole, only seconds and inches from the first musician’s head. But changing body positions changed the balance of my headdress and my balance, so then I worried I might fall into someone’s dinner plate below the stage. Fortunately, to the relief of the viewers I managed to stay on the stage.
As the kitten screamed and fidgeted in the cage on my head, I prayed that he wouldn’t let loose with a piddle or a poop. Then how would I react? Would I pretend it didn’t happen, to go on with the show, or let out a scream while I was being filmed by Channel 11 TV and the nation for the 10:00 news? My forehead felt as if it would be permanently indented from the weight of the headdress. I tried to smile, but what showed up on the cameras was a grimace as I pretended to bounce down the tight-rope and the stage. The whistles rang-out, the flashes from the cameras popped as if it were the 4th of July.
I successfully walked the length of the ramp, leaving everyone intact. The “lion” was delighted to be released from his cage, my forehead was black and blue for a week, but I achieved my aspiration of becoming a famous model on TV for a whole minute!