Young Mr. Steckelberg talks ’bout circuses and … it’s hard to write headlines, y’know?

Dj Steckelberg

Dj Steckelberg


My name is DJ Steckelberg and I am waving frantically at you, even though you can’t really see it. Just picture the guy in the photo to the right with a body and then picture him waving frantically at you.

See! I’m so friendly!

Now, today I want to talk to you about some things that are very important to me. Namely, I want to talk about myself and about circuses.

What you don’t know about me is that I have a life-long association with the circus.

My father was a circus poodle trainer and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his father before him and his mother before him and her father before her and his father before him and his father before him.

Before that, my family consisted of lepers and beggars, but we don’t really talk about that.

Now, the one thing I learned from hanging out with my father is that poodles are frightening little suckers!

Maybe you don’t think so, but when I was six, a poodle leapt at my face and gnawed most of it off. This is why I have become so ugly. I am what you might call the “Phantom of the Circus Poodle Trainers,” except I don’t wear a mask and I don’t work for a circus.

This is because no matter what I did, I couldn’t overcome my fear of poodles. They simply terrified me and I couldn’t get past my intense fear of their chompy teeth and snappy little jaws.

I looked for other jobs at the circus, but eventually I found that there was nothing I could do, except scoop up animal crap and I wasn’t about to do that, no sirree!

So I became a newspaper columnist, and a pretty terrible one at that. Honestly, do any of you read my stuff? I just think it up in about five minutes and then I spit it out on a page.

It’s a wonder that my genius editor (Todd VanDerWerff, who is amazing, where I am stupid) can even make sense of what I write.

Here is a sample sentence before editing: “Ladies them smoke night NCAA longer fear Vermin-town.” After editing, it becomes: “Our ladies just smoked them Monday night for the NCAA II regional championship. We need not fear or even think about Vermin-town any longer.”

You see how vital Mr. VanDerWerff (again, genius) is to my process?

So, it’s obvious I’m never going to find a job as a writer if I’m out looking. No other editor would be as wise or as compassionate as Todd is, that’s for darn sure!

I guess it’s back to the circus for me. But I think I’m going to see if I can take over the circus my family has worked for for generations. If I am in charge, everyone will have to respect me!

So if I ran the circus, here is what I would do:

1.) I would cancel the poodle act. Who likes this crap anyway? Sure, my dad would be out of a job, but he would learn to cope. He could tear tickets or human cannonball or something.

2.) I would let the audience get up close and personal with the tigers. Then I would choose one lucky audience member to get eaten.

3.) I would populate the flying trapeze crew entirely with fat people, who would break the trapezes and then plummet to their deaths.

Wouldn’t you enjoy going to a circus like that?

Wouldn’t you?

I know I would. And while I was there, I would giggle with glee, all while eating my Milk Duds and Raisinets.

DJ Steckelberg says this column was written by Todd VanDerWerff, but who believes him? Write to him at [email protected].