The Greatest Show on Earth – The 1st Episode

‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ is often used to describe and sell some kind of flashy grand Big Top circus show.  I often use the concept of a circus in attempts to explain and provide insights into the inner workings of my family.  And indeed this comparison is extremely harsh and unfair – to the circus.  Because even the circus as a commercial enterprise has some manner of standards; restrictions on its performances regarding the extent to which the audience should be shocked and baffled.  In fact this is the case with any kind of performance – whether it’s in the movies, on television or up on stage in the theatre.   Even fucked up feral material like people shitting on each other or people trying to hump animals, vegetables, dwarfs etc has classifications to enable degrees of choice and control with what you see & hear. 

There’s no communal cross-shitting or pet pumping going on in my family (that can be proved) but I wish that sometimes I could just be pre-warned about their relentless show-time antics – so I can at least prepare to cover my ears, close my eyes, change the channel, boycott the theatre or just fucking get the entire show banned (and the ‘cast’ deported) altogether.  The family’s a recurring theme in my blog – because the family’s an unavoidable theme in my life.  And I’m arguing that it’s also one in yours whether you currently choose to have anything to do with them or not.  I’m an adult now but there remain things both said and done by them that still continue to unsettle the fuck out of me, behaviours and choices that won’t cease to confuse and unhinge me making me go ape shit crazy whether they’re near or far:

Episode 1: There’s been a long running feud between my mum and her younger sister in China.  It started a few years ago after my mum’s last visit to see members of her WuTang clan back in the motherland.  One moment they’re all close like some fucking ching chong version of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and then they abruptly morphed into each other’s public enemy number one.  What trouble brewed in the province?  Who the fuck knows? I don’t want to know (just like I don’t want to know why cash is so strictly enforced as the primary method of payment in the Chinese community).  All I know is that it went from them addressing each other on the phone traditionally according to Chinese custom, ‘Greetings elder sister/ Greetings younger sister, how is you?’ to behind the scenes references by my aunt of my mum as ‘that cock sucking fat slum hag in Australia’ (a loose translation has been applied here, but the overall sentiment is the same).  But then my aunt arrives in Australia recently for a visit and they chat, giggle and cook their way through the month of September.  They were making happy good time wok stir fry music together without addressing to anyone, and I suspect even to each other, the insignificant side matter of their 3 year term of resentment and estrangement. 

They don’t trust each other and it’s likely they thought nothing of talking shit about each other behind closed doors … even while living under the same roof.  But as the bystander watching their reunion and the farcical insincerity of it all, the ‘scene’ made me feel sick because it all seemed way too familiar – because it hit me then that this same show has been played out before way too many other times from the core to amongst the most far reaching branches of my extended family.  It’s a show that’s been staged continuously amongst various family members throughout the past like some mass money making Broadway hit.  And it’s most likely being played out right now somewhere in the present as I write and later on, as you read.  There’s too many multi layered secrets, criss-crossing claimed loyalties, and corrupt versions of re-written history and face-saving cover-ups to ever really know the details of the what, why and how of who’s playing and hustling on who.  I don’t get the plot but I do know this: there’s a large cast with a variety of different actors and many of them were born with the same surname.   It’s the way it goes – it’s the Greatest Fucking Show on Earth, everyone acting their fucking flat arses off.

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‘What the fuck was that?’  Indeed.  Stay tuned, the above is just a scratch on one patch of the mind’s surface.  Like with all 1st episodes of any show, not everything is clear and not all questions are answered.

23 thoughts

  1. Like most “greatest shows on earth”, the pilot episode is not always the one with all the answers. It tends to open the discussion and invite many to join in. If it becomes a hit, many more episodes tend to follow. There is a formula that is mostly followed but ocassionally the really creative will deviate and throw in a flash back, dream sequence, several unexplained sexual encounters, a dice with death and a long lost sibling who returns and attempts to ingratiate him/her self into the family, all in a ill-disguised attempt to steal every last penny he/she feels they are entitled to…So I have no doubt you are on to a winner here! Roll on episode 2!

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    1. Kev, I’ll just make sure those unexplained sexual encounters don’t involve any of the long lost siblings. Cos shit like that belongs on other blogs, that are being monitored by the cops – E xx

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  2. OMG..this is funny shit! Love it! Hahaha.. reminds me a lot about my family and my big clans living overseas. Indeed, families can be such an entertainment. It’s like watching
    an endless family soapie show!I love hearing juicy, gossips,
    intrigues, affairs and bitch fights 🙂
    Can’t wait for your next follow up blog! Man,
    this overtype mode sucks..

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    1. Hey A, it’s definitely one freaky show. And it’s funny to laugh at – until it hits you that you’re actually related to these people … and then you realise that the joke’s on you – E xx

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  3. inspires deeper thoughts.
    reminds me of family tragedies.
    questions the meaning of family.
    feels the hurt those wronged.
    futility in mutual hurt.
    makes me wish for more compassionate, understanding and caring human relationships.

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  4. yep that’s why i left the empty echoes of the happy good time wok stir fry music soy sauce toss ups back in perth and have decided to go chill with my NON blood-related fellow unemployed supermodel homies in the OC, if you get my drift.

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  5. Well done!
    Thanks for sharing your life with us. Its not easy as a writer to share you inner world to everyone. Your courage is to be admired and very inspiring.

    On a less serious note, mate, others wonder why we can be so ‘comical about life’ – mate, its coz we’re brought up in a circus!! that’s why!! who needs ‘Seinfield’ when you grow up in the chinese Circus Oz!

    luv ya!

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    1. True Yogi, it’s not easy to share and expose what’s private, but that’s what’s required in order to have a relationship with the world. Now people know why we’re always laughing – that’s what you do when you’re life could pass as a comedy/tragedy TV show. You either laugh or cry but at least when you’re laughing, you’re also working the abs – E xo

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  6. Family is highly overrated…most families cause their members constant stress. Look what happens at holidays—festive times of domestic violence for many. It’s tradition.

    Everywhere you read how important “family” is as your support group…oh bullshit. I haven’t seen any of mine in many years, they are too destructive. Make your own family with friends or whatever. Blood relatives ruin lives because people think they don’t have a choice…but we do, and it’s called fuck ’em.

    But, what you said about family being unavoidable in creepy ways even if you avoid them is also true—though I have tried to forget and block mine out, they still fuck with me in my nightmares. But it could be worse, they could be fucking with me in real time.

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    1. ‘Family’ has been pimped up by the media and advertisers as some holier than fuck concept that will always lift you up to where you belong. But often I’ve seen they’re actually the sly fuck holes that are scheming to push you down to where you can be looked down upon hard. For me, it’s the intricate network of various extended family members that I feel no loyalty to or connection with. And against all that is favoured by cultural norm, I’ve made it clear that clumps of them can go get fucked in all directions.

      Severance is hard when expectations are high.

      But as you say Deb, you make your own family, and when all is gone and lost you still have yourself – the one to whom your true loyalty lies – E xx

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  7. So families are weird freak shows but I moved back closer to mine many years ago because for all the problems we have had I can pick up the phone any time of day or night and they will be there for me if I really need them. Being a parent teaches you many things and one is greater understanding of your own parents. Not forgiveness, not always acceptance but understanding. It helps a little.

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    1. Thanks Dene, I’ve seen up close the struggles of a single parent & the sacrifice it demands. My immediate family are loving and supportive and I’ve been touched by some kind of blessing there. My frustrations lie in their insistence on keeping people in our lives that are no good – for our minds, for our souls etc. I suppose I have a long way to go before I’m able to reach that level of understanding.

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  8. I’ve heard two great lines this week and this was the second one: “I’ve made it clear that clumps of them can go get fucked in all directions. ”

    I’m sure there is an opportunity out there for me to use this and I probably won’t have to wait too long. I hope you don’t mind. It isn’t copyrighted or anything?

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  9. Brilliant Ev! This has to become a TV show. Pleeaaassee!!! Myolds modus operandi was to play nicey nice and happy families until they got in the car. It was on for young and old before the waving stopped and we were barely out of the driveway! Actors OMG They used to criticise EVERYTHING. So Girl friend I can relate!

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