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The Sideshow From Hell

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Do you ever see something and wonder why it was put before you? Maybe you are scrolling through the channels, looking for something that doesn’t insult your intelligence, and you pause on one of the “reality” shows. In those brief seconds, you see something horrifying. Eyes wide, you quickly click the channel and wonder if it was just God’s way of telling you to keep the idiot box turned off until the beginning of college football.

It was not that long ago that Sandra and I glanced across one of the ravines of life and saw an Appalachian sideshow. A wagon full of the results of careful inbreeding, yelling at one another, squabbling about nothing.

The image was striking, the nasty father with a nasty beard and a snarl to match. An aging Ellie Mae-wannabe, complete with tube top, swollen belly and dark roots. A bevy of kids that look nothing alike. We can’t hear the words, but the shrill cacophony makes it to our ears. The voices are evil, wicked and suggest gossip, hatred and pettiness.

We surmise that they won the lottery because instead of the expected rags, they are dressed in expensive and exceptionally tacky clothes, festooned with garish logos, advertising for the companies that make the overpriced, tasteless garb.

You want to take your eyes away but in that brief moment, you simply can’t. Next you see a young man fall into the ravine, his body pulverized against the rocks, lifeless and limp. Was he was pushed or just couldn’t bear the environment anymore? Immediately the siblings feign horror, one with a sly little glint in her eye. The mom, with a cigarette seemingly glued to her lower lip, yells at everyone. The wagon doesn’t pause for even a moment.

The image is so vivid that you can almost smell the acrid tobacco. Dad hunches his narrow shoulders and cruelly whips the swayback mule on his scarred haunches, who is oblivious to it all, ears back in annoyance.

Not sure what the hell you have just seen, you watch the tortured beast steadily pulling the square wheeled cart, perhaps willing his yoke to break so that he might be freed from this torturous servitude. In that small moment of time, before they disappear around the mountain, the image is recorded in your mind, more vivid than it had actually been.

You ask yourself, “what the hell did I just see?”

And if you don’t believe in coincidence, you ask yourself “why?” Why?

Why indeed If you are like us, you take the glimpse into inbred theatre as a reminder to be appreciative for what you have. Our wonderful harmonious life, that is so blissfully free of drama. A delightful family on which we can depend. A treasure trove of dear friends that we consider family. A lovely house to shelter us, a nest in which to make a home. We could go on and on, but rest assured, we are blessed beyond measure not only because what we have, but because of what we don't.

So we take a moment, take a knee and pray to God. We promise that we will always be grateful. That we will always count our blessing. We also pray for the lost souls that we just witnessed. And, on bended knee, with head bowed, we uncharacteristically ask something of Him, rather than as we usually do, simply accept everything that He so graciously gives us.

We pray that He keep that sideshow far, far away.

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