I must have been six. The circus!!! We yelled. The circus!!! We spit-washed our dark places, dug out our cleanest clothes and prepared to stuff ourselves silly with stringy cotton candy. We could hardly believe what we were about to witness: dancing bears and sad clowns, ladies with suntanned-colored pantyhose and men with lions, whips and mascara. All of my when-I-die-I-wanna-go-to-heaven-and-be-a-trapeze-artist fantasies were about to be fueled, and I pinched my cheeks, hoping to be ‘discovered’.
What we hadn’t prepared for that night at the circus was the creature in the tiniest ring. The spotlight spun figure-8’s on the ceiling, hundreds and hundreds of infinities, loop-de-loop-de-loop, until finally it settled on the knobby-kneed, wide-eyed creature in the center. Ladies and gentlemen, the announcer said. Drums rolled, and we looked at the creature, noticing the unimaginable: a single horn in the middle of its head. We gasped as the drums kept rolling. The world’s only remaining unicorn!!!
Looking back I realize that much of my disappointment stemmed from the fact that the creature was a goat; everyone knows that unicorns are flying horses!!! But there was something else. Here was one of the great myths of our childhood unveiled, and in that unveiling, it looked like nothing we had ever fathomed. What was next? Real cowboys? Pirates?!?!?!
And yes, it seems, pirates were next. Suddenly, they’re all over the news: getting shot in the head by Navy Seals, earning top billing at Pentagon meetings. A few years ago when the head editors here at PBQ wanted to do a “Pirate” issue, I thought, uhm, okay, but now it makes all the sense in the world; now I think perhaps they had their fingers on the heartbeat of something that was just drifting around in the blue, and that something happened to be beating in the barrel chest of a parrot-toting, jewel-loving, plank-walker-making, sea-legged-Argher of a man.
But it’s got me wondering about what’s coming next. How about you? What were the great mythological creatures of your childhood, and how, dear reader, do you imagine they’ll unveil themselves?