He was famous in the little town we partially grew up in. There wasn’t a soul in the humble little town that didn’t know about him and his escapades – and it didn’t matter the age, everyone from two to two hundred knew about his rare talent.
Being as young as I was, I had no respect for his privacy, we knew where he lived and exploited that fact with glee.
I recall driving by where he lived and yelling as much to him as about him, “Hey! – There he is! – Hey! – Hi!!!” I’d holler out the rolled-down car window as we drove past. He never answered. He looked unamused by the interventions. The poor guy got zero privacy… The price you pay for celebrity status, I suppose.
I can still picture the massive sign out front of the local outdoor roller rink when he was going to be performing. It was huge in our small town – he was big – I mean really big.
I don’t remember at what point I began to feel sorry for him but sensed his sadness. Perform and back to his house, that was it. Eat – sleep – perform. He had no life outside his work and it seemed to me, even at a young age, that his managers were abusing him.
Despite the age, I was putting two and two together and figuring out that they weren’t interested in him personally. He was their paycheck, their meal ticket… and they rode him like a horse… After a time, when we’d drive by where he lived I wouldn’t yell anymore… One of the last times I saw him out, I told my mom, “There he is…” with little excitement, “I feel sorry for him.” I could tell my mom did too…
He lived at the roller rink … No. I mean he literally lived and worked at the roller rink. I guess his play time was when he was performing, but he didn’t have a choice. He was trapped, they owned him, and he was obedient to his task masters.
Like most things in life; with time his show got old – people got used to it, it lost its unique appeal… He was just another statistic to be counted under the “over exposure” column.
Shortly before we moved from the small town and drove past the roller rink, I looked for him… but he was gone. His white painted home was empty… The stall built out in the front and side of the roller rink was abandoned. The sign was gone too. We’d seen the last of the sign, “THE SKATING DONKEY TONIGHT.” I hoped the skating donkey had moved on to greener pastures… literally.
It would be some decades later when it dawned on me how many of us are like that skating donkey… We get penned in by life and its trappings. Often we work at a job we’d rather not do – live in a house we wish were better, but we’re scared to death of the things we don’t know or haven’t experienced. We become trapped in a life much like the skating donkey was.
We become content to go through the motions and be controlled by our circumstances. We’re not donkeys… We have the intellect and wisdom from God to live where and how we want. It’s called free will… and yeah, as the term implies; it’s free…
As free as the skating donkey wanted to be…