Posted on February 10th, 2012 by Viveca in Circus Life

Yesterday I spent the morning wrangling cats for a corporate event in Grand Central. Housecats. Eight housecats. The trainers also brought four dogs, because they didn’t believe I really only wanted cats, so we had to set up someone to watch the dogs too.

The event went pretty well, although I got very nervous when I saw one of The Daily Show correspondents interviewing the act. I doubt there’s any way for anyone to come out of that looking good. The act is Russian, only the son speaks English, and they were in ridiculous clown costumes. Let’s just say I was concerned on how this would reflect on the show, but it turns out they didn’t even mention the Circus. The cute young son explained to me in his deliberate English, “they asked me about some guy—I don’t know who—and he wants to drive a train, maybe seven trains.” As best I can tell, they were asking them whether John Rocker should be allowed to ride the 7 train to Shea Stadium.

There’s only so much that housecats can do, but they do it well, the client is happy, and we get through it. During the act, the cats who aren’t performing sit in plastic-flowered baskets on a bicycle. Eight flowered baskets on one bicycle. Afterwards, the trainer uses the bike to get the cats back to the truck. She needs to get up some speed to make it up the ramp to get out of Grand Central Station, which is as crowded as, well, Grand Central Station, so I run along in front of the bike shouting at people to move out of the way so she can ride the bike with the eight cats on it to the only door it’ll fit through to get out.

We make it out to the street, and somehow one of the cats gets away. I stay to watch the other seven, and she runs off to lure back the one stray. Now remember, she’s in full clown, full Russian clown if that means anything to you (let’s just say the wig has tinsel in it), and she doesn’t speak any English (she and I can talk because I speak a tiny bit of Russian, and she speaks a tiny bit of Spanish). She’s chasing the cat, which fortunately is hiding under a UPS truck instead of playing in traffic, shouting to it in Russian, and trying to tempt it back with strange little treats she produces from the pockets of her clown costume. Meanwhile, strangers are surrounding me trying to pet the other seven cats. Who touches someone else’s animals on the street without asking? The cats are beginning to get spooked by the crowds and the noise, and I’m beginning to get spooked by mobs leaning in and touching us. Plus, I’m extra nervous because I’ve been warned not to let anyone pet the white cat, although I don’t know what it does when people do. Finally, the stray jumps out from under the UPS truck and makes a break for it back into Grand Central. I yell for the trainer, and she nabs it.

So that was my morning—clowns and cats. And Russians, and you never know what will happen with Russians.

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