My Stepsons Bobo and Chuckles
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I admit I went into marriage standing to gain two teenage stepsons with my eyes wide open. Bobo and Chuckles had hardly escaped my attention during Mary's and my courtship, with their clown outfits, greasepaint features, and skilled slapstick routines. To be honest, even I was amused when Chuckles soaked the minister with his trick boutonniere at the wedding, and Bobo released goldfish into the punch bowl at the reception. And it tickled me when my family, those who had not attended the ceremony but received pictures, asked me about the two Ronald McDonald types in all the shots, who stood out a mile from the more soberly dressed guests.

But my amusement quickly wore off at the family dinner table a few weeks later. I watched with resignation as Bobo adjusted his false nose and Chuckles played with his rubber ears. Bobo, 18, had just been suspended from school for sandpapering his shop teacher's false teeth, and Chuckles, 17, had been warned for what seemed like the tenth time about slapping his two-foot long shoes against the floor during class, disrupting the lesson. The chances of either of them graduating from the public high school they attended seemed slim. For that reason we were discussing their future with some concern. Though no one but me seemed to have any bright ideas.

“Hello?” I asked. “Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? Becoming circus clowns would seem a pretty obvious move. I'd say the boys would look pretty good under the big top, given their advanced knowledge of costumes, makeup,and comedy. Hosting children's parties would be a second option.”

This was met with a chorus of indignant nays. So I asked Mary, “Didn't you tell me that your 21-year-old daughter, Tina, the World's Fattest Female Midget, joined the circus last year, after deciding that majoring in psychology at the university wasn't her thing?”

“You haven't met Tina,” Mary rejoined. “She's not like Bobo and Chuckles. She's much more into show biz and entertainment than they are.”

“These two aren't into show biz and entertainment?” I asked. “What a waste of hand buzzers.”

The first clown to drop out of school was Bobo, he being older. He briefly considered the armed forces, but couldn't see hiking through the deserts of the Middle East in his baggy pants and pop-up tie, so he joined a roofing team. He came home exhausted from riding his unicycle on the roof all day and sick from swallowing nails. He quit one day when his boss told him to jump off the roof and land safely in a wading pool. After that he stayed in our living room, practicing with his hula-hoop and sleeping.

When he turned 18, Chuckles joined his brother as a dropout and took a job as a dishwasher. He arrived home late in the evening, complaining that the steamy water he slaved in streaked his makeup. Also, the waitresses laughed when his false scalp curled up in the heat. Soon he quit too and camped out with his brother in the living room. The two of them spent every night there, dozing, watching adult movies, smoking marijuana, tossing juggling pins back and forth and practicing their tumbling moves while talking in Donald Duck voices.

I stood it as long as I could then told the two they had to leave. I gave them six months to get a move on.

“What'll we do?” they cried together, tying balloon animals to ease their stress.

“I can't tell you what to do with your lives,” I said. “But you know, the cir--”

They didn't want to hear it and ran to their mother.

Six months later and they're still here, doing handstands in the living room.

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