The 1pm Sunday Show

There was a sword swallower. Then a fire swallower.

A woman danced with a boa constrictor. A man claiming to be Houdini’s illegitimate great-grandson wriggled out of a straight jacket. A petite lady lay on a bed of nails while a not-so-petite fellow stood on top of her.

And it was all wrapped up in dramatic entrances, fast exits, bright lights, greasepaint, and a whole lot of sweat.

You’d think the audience was standing room only. You’d think it was a Saturday night show. Or maybe some big muckety-muck was in the crowd.

But no. There were only eight of us – a few stragglers off the street – sitting on wooden bleachers in a small, musty room. And it was 1pm on a quiet Sunday during off-season, weeks before the buses and the trains unloaded tourists onto the wooden bleachers.

And still, the fire swallower and Houdini’s illegitimate great-grandson and everyone gave everything they had. All the sweat and drama and greasepaint. Gave it like we were a packed house of big muckety-mucks on a Saturday night. Like we were really something.

So we eight on our wooden bleachers whooped and hollered and roared until you’d think there were 80 of us. Because when you treat a thing like it matters, it can’t help but start acting like it does. And the performers were having a blast and we were having a blast and that small, musty room was holding something larger than all of us.

Which left me with this idea, after the lights went up and the sweat dried up, that if there’s any kind of prescription for good living, it might include treating little crowds and little moments and little stuff like they’re really something.

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