Cantering through Victoria, Canada, we saw slews of street performers. Plasterman, Silver Lady, and musical performers peppered the streets as prominently as Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. We secured spray-painted pictures from a street artist. We listened to a man who propagated sounds reminiscent of a cross between Bugs Bunny and a hippopotamus. We coalesced with a crowd around a performer. Busker resembled a thirty-year-old homeless man who had acquired a box of magic toys in an alley. His receding hairline boasted dilapidated hair, his shoes and jeans flaunted fissures through which his knees and toes glimpsed. Around his neck he donned a clown's oversized red and yellow striped tie with matching suspenders around his shoulders. He wore no shirt. He revolved batons, dramatized juggling, and danced with a style before not witnessed by my thirteen-year-old eyes. It teemed with thrusting. He displayed batons to his congregation and requested a volunteer from the audience. Having elected a man my dad's age, Busker handed him a baton. Without an appeal to his audience for assistance, he strode through the crowd, grasped my hand, and extracted me from the clusters. I was as comfortable as I was during my first gynecologist appointment. I still maintain that there is something demoralizing about being fingered by a metal contraption by the name of Vaginal Specula.
"Oh, no no no!" I exclaimed, attempting to escape. Busker, who should have been entitled Magician, abated my efforts and forcefully dragged me to the center of the cultivating circle where he deposited a baton in my hands.
"Do not drop this!" he ordered, his voice radiating like Merlin and a smile decorating his face like a baboon on drugs.
He must have somehow sensed my opposition of the situation. My face may have been an indication, as it was exuding like a volcano. I stood, my arm outstretched, complete with baton. Busker set it aflame. Volunteer and I, positioned on either side of him, held burning flame. The flaming batons were juggled, twirled and twisted. One almost lit my hair on fire. Another went astray, attacking a section of the masses. They seemed under the impression Busker was doing this on purpose and it was part of the entertainment factor. I thought that if I died from head trauma by a blunt object, at least I could say I'd had my first sports bra and been out of the country. The lit baton sporadically reappeared in my hand, and I held it out to him like a dutiful cult worshipper. I never questioned.
At length, he extinguished the batons in a water pail and shook Volunteer's hand as a thank-you. He strutted to me, grasped either side of my face with his calloused, fire-streaked hands, and dragged my face to his, his cracked lips meeting mine. My eyes open in shock and dismay, I leaned back. Busker threw one arm around my back and leaned forward, stretching me into a dip. Had I been a few decades older, my back may not have recovered. He straightened, smiled, and threw his hands up in the air as if applauding God. I sprinted into the surrounding people and pushed through my family, away from Busker. While I attempted to recover my dignity by throwing my hands over my eyes and exhaling gagging noises, my family demonstrated their loving support by laughing like they had just witnessed the best entry on America's Funniest Home Videos.