I once persuaded a mime to *gasp* speak.
The autumn air was the perfect temperature on that fateful Halloween. Our neighbor girl had joined my family for a “Harvest Party” at our mega-church. By mega-church, I literally mean that the campus sprawled out over acres of land. The church event featured street performers of all types. There were stilt-walkers, clowns, sidewalk artists, illusionists, and mimes.
My neighbor friend had to use the restroom. We were at the end of campus that was in close proximity to the sanctuary building. My mother didn’t want to walk any further until we knew beyond all shadow of a doubt that the restrooms were indeed open. It was announced that we were expected to wait (or bounce in the case of my friend) until my mother returned from locating a “Person in charge”.
It was on that balmy night amid throngs of humanity pushing past us that my path intersected with the make-up caked-on, black-and-white-wearing, glove-ensconced mime man in the derby hat.
I admired his fashion panache immediately, and assumed he MUST be able to help us with our current bathroom dilemma. I, in my artistic ignorance, assumed that he was a traditionally-painted clown who merely wanted to pay homage to the harlequins of years gone by. (I was a rather nerdy child who loved researching things like “the history of clowns” in my free time. Seriously, I did.)
I assured my friend that I would be back in a moment with an answer, and I stepped confidently away from where she was contorted in the “international bathroom dance”. Pulling myself up to full height, I tapped the mime man on the shoulder and said, “My friend needs to go to the bathroom. Is the sanctuary unlocked?”
The mime man proceeded to gesture me a strange series of movements.
I was confused. I stood a bit straighter, and answered in a slightly louder voice, “My friend (pointing to her) needs to go to the bathroom (crossing my legs in the “potty stance”). Is the SANCTUARY (pointing to the building) OPEN (opening my hands like a clam)?”
The mime man did something that looked like he was confused as he walked through an invisible door.
I repeated my above-mentioned question, LOUDER and with GRANDER gestures.
The mime man shrugged and walked away.
I was indignant. My friend would wet her pants at any moment, and this fashionable historian was refusing to give us the answer that we needed.
I followed the mime man over to where a small crowd had gathered, and tapped him on the shoulder AGAIN. I went through my spiel for the third time, adding exaggerated bounces to the potty dance, solemn prayer gestures to the sanctuary part, and mimicking his open-the-invisible-door-and-walk-on-through bit.
He threw up his hands in exasperation and stomped off.
I followed, wondering who would ignore a little girl in obvious need of a restroom.
I tapped him on the shoulder again, and said, “Hey, Mister. I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!”
He whirled around and said, “Little Girl, I am a MIME. I do not speak. I gesture, It is an art form which you have just ruined. I DO NOT KNOW IF THE SANCTUARY IS UNLOCKED, I HOPE YOUR LITTLE FRIEND FINDS A BATHROOM. I have to go now as you made me break my mime-vow of silence.” He burst into tears and ran for the parking lot.
“What happened to that man in the derby hat?” I discovered that my mom had walked up beside me.
“I asked him if the sanctuary was unlocked so we could use the bathroom, and he started crying.”
Mom just blinked at me stupidly. “Tell me what you did, Gracie, while we walk.” We headed in the direction of the bathrooms as I retold my tale, complete with reenactment of gestures.
My friend speed walked into the haven of the unlocked restroom and found relief as I finished my story.
Mom simply shook her head, said, “Tsk tsk tsk, Gracie. Only you could make a mime talk…and cry.” She started with a chuckle, and laughed on and off through the entire evening.
My family now refers to me in the following way: “Gracie is so stubborn that she can make a mime talk.”
I am, and I have. 😉