The magician is an asshole. He makes passes at me twice a day; once before practice, when I’m warming up, and once after I jump from the safety net toward the Flying Apollo Troupe’s shared trailer. I hope my dad never tried the same pickup lines.
“There’s a real woman right there. Not afraid to be thick around these skinny kids. Listen, I know you love fondue, I’ve seen you eat it by the drum—we can go to this place I know, talk about where you want to go to school. You want to go to school, right?”
He comes on after the Russian swing with a cloak and a phony grin. Sparks, hidden doves, levitation. I want to punch his nose into applesauce.
“Sweetheart, remember to keep your back straight so your tits pop,” he tells the new assistant from Ekaterinburg.
“How is pop?”
“Like pop, you know.” He cups his hands under his chest and turns out his hips. Charming.
“O.K.” She arches her back, pulling the shimmery spandex against her breasts. Her nipples are pretty goddamn visible.
“It’s a family show, Don,” says Jim Crewer, the stunt cyclist. His face looks like Muhammad Ali’s hands, which everyone jokes is the real reason he wears a helmet in the show. People say he sings to the wart on his cheek.
“Like hell it is. People come to see tight bodies doing impossible things, nevermind what the playbill says. The wives get the African dancer with muscles on his eyeballs, sit in their chairs and play fantasy. Kids just picture themselves doing the stunts, sure. But dads, you know—Tatyana gets their minds going. Right?”
He winks broadly, adds a lame cape flourish. Tatyana, lost on the topic, bares careful teeth in a parody of Western smiles. Maybe she understands. What woman can’t understand the lechery of a man?