How many times have you seen the harlequin, his face painted white, his hat in a point, skulking wickedly about the stage, cracking crude jokes, always undone in the end? He's made you laugh, he's kicked your troubles in the rump and sent them scurrying out of your life, for a short while, he's let you feel superior, if only to the likes of him. You owe the clown a great debt, don't you think, for the weight he's chased from your shoulders, for the smile he's put on your face?

And yet, would you know him if you met him, his face wiped clean, his clothes much like yours, his legs limp and weary from cutting so many capers, his back bent with the work he's done - the work of carting off other men's cares -, a frown on his face from all his faded pranks?

What if he sat next to you in a tavern, as worn out from his trade as a weaver or a baker, as ready to raise a glass as the next man, as ready to curse the tax collector, as ready to pay a wench to step behind the outhouse, as ready to show a blade at the first offense? Would you be glad to find yourself beside him? Would you be pleased to learn... the harlequin is me?

Copyright 2008 James B. Chevallier
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