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NOTE: This piece was originally written and posted during the Great Clown Panic of 2016.

Clowns attacked me! I was attacked by clowns! Really, I swear to God! And when has anybody who said "swear to God" ever lied?

As you all well know, there have been many recent sightings of purposefully scary clowns for a while now. Some doubting Thomases have alternate explanations for many of these incidents, including the possibility that some people are just calling 911 or making up stories for attention or for yuks. Oh, so there's this NATIONWIDE CONSPIRACY of people who just make up clown stories now, eh? And just what do w— I mean, they have to gain from it, hmmm??? That's crazy talk.

Anyhow, I was walking down the street with a shopping bag containing my recent purchase, when I spot a bright red (almost safety-orange, really) object moving around behind a utility pole up ahead at about eye level. Oh no. I could already tell it was hair. After hearing all of the recent clown news, I figured I'd better keep nonchalant and just keep moving, not even turning around to confirm my suspicions. It would be better to just act like this fluorescent-haired fellow wasn't there, or perhaps he was just Malcolm Gladwell.

I did hasten my gait a little and stayed as far from the pole as possible without seeming to be avoiding it purposefully. I was never less than four feet away at any point. But suddenly, a shoe that had to be at least two and a half feet long is practically thrown into my path! Of course, even from that distance a clown can trip you up! A quick course-correction had me step over the shoe, but now I had reflexively looked back at my attempted assailant, and even made a split second's worth of eye contact. His face was painted black and white, accentuating his sharp yellow teeth. His left arm was inked with a tribute to Emmett Kelly, "1898-1979 — Still The Best". His clothes were such a patchwork of contrasting colors that when he lunged to attack, it felt like an entire herd of zebras charging for me. Without thinking, I ran.

I couldn't make out whatever it was my pursuer was shouting, as I was distracted thinking about whether his lengthy footwear was slowing him down or putting some extra spring in his step. Out of nowhere, another clown comes around the corner with a big plastic bucket. I see it and I'm sure that it's acid, so I stop in my tracks to dodge the caustic liquid which he's clearly preparing to douse me with. Turns out it was confetti. But, because I tried to avoid what I believed to be an acid attack, the first clown catches up to me and wrestles me to the ground. The next thing I feel is something like a shower of Nerf-hard fists jackhammering me into submission. The cacophony of honking prevented me from being able to properly hear their shouts, but it sounded like they were saying, "This is RINGLING turf! This is RINGLING turf!"

Once they finished pummeling me, they dragged me to the curb, positioning my head right on the edge. I can hear a lot of giggling and bicycle bells now, so there had to a bunch of them lying in wait to come out and see the grand finale. It's blurry, but a third clown is running straight at me. Just a few seconds after clenching my eyes shut again, my face is covered with whipped cream and a flimsy tin foil pie pan.

All it took was an untraceable disposable pie pan and some whipped cream. Why are these things still sold over-the-counter?

Wiping the cream from my face, I just barely caught glimpse of the last six piling into their tiny car, actually laughing at what they just accomplished. The car peeled out as its speakers blared some speed metal version of Fucik's "Entry of the Gladiators". Of course, they had taken my shopping bag and my wallet. And that's why I don't have a birthday present for you.

But you know what's really weird about all this? Even though this really happened (remember how I said "swear to God" ?) and the clowns were really real, the whole time it was going on, I couldn't help but marvel at how plausible it all was.