Jeff Ford
July 1, 2002
Contributers: Jeff Ford

It gets harder every year to come up with new and ingenious ways to fool everyone in the April issue. In actuality, this consumes a great deal of my off hours-plotting and scheming ways to make you all wonder if what we have concocted is for real. We've faked the Bullitt, made up an owner whose name was something of a joke in itself (Harry Hiney), as well as done nothing at all (intentionally). That one sent us into giggles every time we thought about it last year. We pictured thousands of you out there trying to find the joke. Little did you known that the joke was that there was no joke.

In years past we've thought about doing the idea that we used this year. That one felt like stepping off of a bungie-jumping tower with no safety precautions while at the end of a frayed rope. But we did it; we chose to go where superstitious folks dare not tread-right into the lion's mouth of seeming unemployment. We were a little fearful of what someone in higher, higher (upper) management might say: "Hey, you know what, the circus joke was funny. Let's make it come true!"

My thought was to make it plausibly implausible. Too far to the left, and we'd be in a really believable scenario-like me going to work in the advertising business. Too far to the right, like me joining the space program (of course, if Steven Tyler of Aerosmith can get in...) and you folks would immediately smell a rat. That was the function of the circus. Many folks know that the Ringling clown school is right here in the area; Sarasota is only an hour from my house. Many folks have told me that I am funny-although I always took it to mean funny looking. So clown school at Ringling was the choice.

What I didn't realize is the effect it would have on some readers, namely my 84-year-old grandmother. To my lovely and sweet grandmother it was OK that I was leaving; nooo problem. The problem came with the circus. Let me say that Granny grew up in the day when the circus was not the honorable profession that I see it as. To her, it was as bad as if I'd run off to play piano in a house of ill repute. She was not amused in the least-well, not at first. It took my uncle and me to convince her that I was not running off and was, in fact, staying right here for the foreseeable future.

Other folks got on my bandwagon right beside Granny. Some were glad to see it, thinking that they were finally rid of "that clown, Ford." Others were less than thrilled. Most just wanted to beat me up for even doing it in the first place. For the latter group I'll have you know that Granny took care of it, because when I saw her next I got a sound whipping-OK, not so sound, but I think she felt better for it-and the clowns you see here in the article. Funny, she never used to give me gifts when she whipped me-not that I ever deserved many whippings (nudge, nudge, wink, wink...).