Last year—or perhaps even the year before?—our neighbours put out an animatronics clown figurine on their front yard. Taller than your average human, this clown looms over passersby and lunges at them while cackling and singing ghastly nursery rhymes, like, "Roses are red, violets are blue, you'd better run or I'm gonna get you!"
Needless to say, there were some among our party who were more frightened than others by this massive decoration. We couldn't really have Alexander screaming every time we walked past (never you mind about the werewolf on the other street that would start howling when we walked by) or we'd never get around the block, so we made up a back story for the clown to help him accept the clown as part of our neighbourhood.
"He just needs a name," Rachel decided. "Let's call him...Fil, short for...Filthy!"
Fil's story grew from there. The kids would talk about his passion for flowers, how he ran away from the circus, how his favourite colour is obviously red. Knowing so much about Fil helped him seem more like a friend than an enemy. Instead of being afraid of him, Alexander began to greet him as we walked by, would worry about Fil being out in the rain, and their relationship blossomed.
Interestingly, when Halloween was over, Fil wasn't put away immediately. Evidently, it is easy to impulse-buy an 8-foot clown on clearance. Less easy is knowing where to put the darn thing when you're done with it. Fil stood out on the front yard for a long time, but was eventually moved down by their garage.
When we first walked by and saw Fil was no longer standing sentinel on the street we thought, "Oh, they finally put Fil away!" And then we saw a terrifying figure lurking at the side of their house...
Fil had spooked us again!
He lived over by their garage for several more months before disappearing altogether, only to reemerge in mid-September.
"Fil's back!" the kids cheered.
But our sweet little neighbour was less impressed. He was terrified of Fil and cried every time they walked past the house. So she texted me one day:
"What did your kids name that creepy clown down the street? I remember it was something cute, and I thought it might help John get over his fear if he knows your kids are friends with the clown. I thought if we call him the same name than he can talk about the clown with your kids and learn that he's okay."
"They call him Fil," I told her.
So her family started calling the clown Fil. And they told other people about Fil, who then also started calling the clown Fil, and now it's apparently this whole neighbourhood thing.
My big girls and little ones and I went trick-or-treating with John and his parents (Zoë and Benjamin took off with some of the older neighbourhood kids) and John's mom stopped to talk about Fil with Fil's family. They were laughing about how practically the whole neighbourhood calls him Fil now, how they greet him every time they walk or drive by, and whenever they'd forget about having stored him somewhere...and he'd "pop" out and scare them...they'd say, "Oh, Fil!"
"You know what Fil is short for, don't you?" I asked.
"Oh, yes!" said John's mom. "This is the family that named him! You should hear this!"
"It's short for Filthy," I said.
And Fil's "mom" just cracked up laughing.
"This whole thing just keeps getting better!" she wheezed. "Filthy the Clown?! I love it!"
Fil's basically an institution around here now. May his days be many!