Doing My Part
I live near an Air Force base and do a regular gig there for their monthly family night. Before the September 11 attacks getting on base was no problem. The soldier at the gate would ask me where I was headed on base and let me pass or sometimes they would have me pull over to show valid registration and receive a pass.
Since the attacks however the security on the base has been tightened. On the day I was scheduled to perform this month, there was a scare on the base when construction crews damaged a gas line. The F.B.I. was called in to make sure that the accident was not a terrorist attack. Although it was not reported in the local papers, I just happened to hear about the incident after the fact, through my other job. I also heard that family night at the base was to go on as scheduled.
So Pom Pom headed out to the AFB, supplies in tow. As I entered the guard tower I noticed the men wearing full combat gear even to the extent of huge automatic rifles slung over their shoulders. Heightened security efforts made the days of being waved on through the gate a thing of the past.
Tenitivly I approached the desk where a soldier waited to see my paperwork. I gave the guard everything from the envelope and waited, smiling my best clown smile. There were more guards outside waving motorists whose cars bore proper base tags on through, but soon the traffic slowed and more guards came into the tower to get out of the cold and possibly to get a look at the clown. I joke and interact with people of all ages when clowning and imposing soldiers or not, I still joked with the men respectfully as they went about their duties.
I overheard one of the soldiers stage whisper,
Curiosity always gets the better of me, I said,
"Ask me what?"
Well this 6ft. 3" burly buff soldier, dressed in full camo gear, with a rifle strapped to his back...wanted a balloon animal!
I made him a poodle.
My experience with the men and women of the AFB has always been positive. The people that serve our country deserve our respect and admiration for the sacrifices they make daily. I fully expect to be detained and examined as a potential threat but I am only too happy and willing to submit to the delay because I know it is for the good of our country. As Pom Pom the Clown I will do my part, even if it's something as silly as a balloon animal.