It Used to Be A Fun House

All the girls in the family have been watching a lot of Pink videos and singing Pink songs lately. This has been my introduction to Pink, whose songs I’d never heard before mainly because I listened to other stuff. I knew there was a performer called Pink, of course, but that was about the limit of my knowledge.

One of the songs they sing and listen to has been stuck in my head for a few weeks now. The name of the song is “Fun House” and it has one of the most disturbing and incongruous lyrics I’ve ever come across:

It used to be a fun house /
But now it’s full of evil clowns

“Why,” I have asked my kids repeatedly over the last few weeks, “does the house have to be full of evil clowns?” Everyone knows that clowns themselves are bad enough but evil clowns raise the specter of movies like Poltergeist and novels like It.

My girls think my reaction to the song is amusing. Several times a day I will walk up to them randomly and repeat the lyric as though I am pondering how such a think could be. “It used to be a fun house,” I’ll say solemnly, “but not it’s full of evil clowns.” At this point, my youngest (nearly 5 years old) will remind me that, “I’m gonna burn it down, down, down.”

I’ve given this a lot of thought–too much, perhaps. The line would make much more sense if it used to be a fun house, but now it is an evil house. For one thing, there is a nice parallelism to that. For another, it is a natural rhyme, rather than the slant rhyme created between house and clown. The girls just give me strange looks.

I’ve offered them alternatives to evil clowns, equally incongruous, but less freaky than evil clowns. For instance:

It used to be a fun house, but now it’s full of evening gowns.

which scans perfectly and is worthy of a Weird Al level parody. But if I sing that lyric, the girls become irritated and say, “Nooooo, Daaaaad, it’s evil clowns!

It used to be a farmhouse, but now it’s full of L. Frank Baum.

They just stared at me.

I think we’re stuck with evil clowns at this point, but I don’t have to like it. Still, I can’t seem to get the song out of my head. They made it worse for me yesterday by insisting I watch the video, complete with evil clowns with glowing eyes.

I want to make it clear to everyone that I have nothing against evil clowns. Some of my best friends are evil clowns. My problem is entirely with incongruous lyrics. Why “evil clowns”? Why no, “wedding gowns” or “awkward nouns”? The mystery of it has me spiraling in an infinite loop that my daughters find particularly delightful.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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