Mime and Ice Sculpture

Okay, just so no one dies of the suspense, or begins gibbering about the Giant Rat of Sumatra gnawing on their ear, a clarification about The Time A Mime Chased Me Around An Ice Sculpture.

I was quite young. Probably…oh…six? I think six. We were driving across the country and stayed briefly at the home of my stepfather’s ex-wife.* She, a charming and urbane woman who had undoubtedly suffered enough over the course of her previous marriage to be forgiven for anything up to and including axe murder, invited us to a gallery opening? I think? that evening. I recall a courtyard with long tables covered in the standard gallery opening finger food, an ice sculpture of a swan, and a mime.

At six-ish, I was very young, but also a veteran of many gallery openings, granted that Mom was an artist. I knew that you didn’t scream or run around, that you asked your mother politely to get you drinks off the table, and that the chief source of amusement was reading the little white cards next to the paintings. (Oddly enough, I recall few of the paintings, just acres of the little white cards with neat black type–title, artist, medium, country of origin on the international shows…) And I knew what a mime was–they had them at Sea World–but found them a little unsettling. At Sea World they always made fun of people, and I was deathly afraid that the mime would imitate me. The pride of small children is adamantine, even if they don’t use it that often.

So when the mime approached, in the general course of working the crowd (or possibly homing in on Small Child In Vicinity, possibly thinking, with the fundamental lack of comprehension of human nature that characterizes clowns and their subspecies, that children LIKE mimes) I retreated. First behind my mother. Mime circled like a hyena spotting young wildbeest. Young wildebeest backed away. Mother wildebeest watches this, unsure of whether to break off conversation and intervene. Mime advanced. Child retreats, trying to look nonchalant and “hey, I just happen to be going this way,” because if I broke and ran, the Evil Mime Would Have Won.

Got to end of the table, and the ice sculpture of the swan. Aha! The advantage of being only about three feet tall is that you can use an ice sculpture for cover. I retreated around the side. Safe! The mime couldn’t possibly find me now. Giant frozen waterfowl, you saved the day.

I turned, intending to continue the circuit of the table and get back to my mother, and that bastard mime, having gone the long way around, does that weird lead-with-the-shoulder, head cocked, pop-into-view thing they do that isn’t really jumping out at you, but is close enough. Egad! Mime! I jumped, (although I didn’t scream, possibly because I had known the mime would not let me off that easily) and backpedalled, NOT RUNNING, into my mother, who had disentangled herself from her conversation (and god, I hope she said something like “Excuse me, I have to go rescue my daughter from a crazed mime,” because you only get a shot at a line like that once or twice a lifetime) and come to rescue me from the clutches of the Silent Doom That Walks Against The Wind.

I suspect the mime remembers it differently, but I’ve never trusted the buggers since.

* Yeah, it seems a little weird to me, too.

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