I rounded the nurses station to drop off a chart only to by confronted by a clown.

I did a double take…yes, it was a clown, sitting in a wheelchair. A Pink curly wig donned his head and billowing teal pants with red and pink polka dots spilled through the spokes of the wheels.

He sat staring straight ahead. The droop on one side of his face pulled his make-up over to one side and made his painted red nose even more prominent. But it didn’t make me laugh.

I quickly examined the clown from head to toe and added some new parts to my neurologic examination.

“Raise your eyebrows for me,” I said.

His rainbow painted eyebrows tilted his whole forehead to his left as he struggled get them up.

“Show me all your teeth.”

The cognitive dissonance between a clown with rotten teeth and halitosis augmented the irony of his presense.

A short thin bobbing woman who resembled a toothpick came skipping down the hallway. Her bright orange wig somehow made me smile and she thrust her hand out to introduce herself.

“I’m Jellybean,” she squeaked. “How is Riggles doing? The rest of the group will be here shortly”

“Hi Jellybean, I’m Doc Shazam,” I replied. The words that came out of my mouth were, “It looks like Riggles has had a stroke.” But inside my head I was thinking, “A whole group of clowns arriving in our ER will make everyone happy.”

I’ve learned to emotionally separate myself from the personal details of my sickest patients, but internally, this seemed ot me to be a step too far. As I put in the alarm for a stroke alert, I was smiling inside at the thought of a hallway filled with bobbing, squeaking, smiling, polka-dotted, wig topped, red-nosed adults in Urban Blight Memorial.

I forgot that people who live in this community still reach out to their neighbors. Ghetto Clowns. Nice.