When I was a kid, my dad used to take my sister and me to the Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey circus every year when its tour schedule brought it to Madison Square Garden. One year (I was maybe 12 or 13, so this would have made it the mid-1980s) the television commercials for the circus advertised that this time, they’d have a genuine, real-life unicorn there. They even showed it in the commercial – this white animal with a long straight horn right in the middle of its head that was riding around on what looked like a parade float, next to a woman wearing a floofy pink dress and one of those conical princess hats (the proper term for that type of hat is a “hennin”, in case you didn’t know that) who was holding its leash.
Well, my sister was just about as excited as you’d expect any 10-year-old girl from an American suburb in the 80s to be about meeting a unicorn in person. I was reaching the age where boys tend to lose interest in things like going to the circus, but I’ll have to admit that I was pretty curious myself. I was old enough to have learned that there was no such thing as unicorns, and yet… and yet, here one was. On TV, no less – and there are laws against lying in a TV commercial! I sure did want to figure out how they’d managed that. So even though I’d been considering begging off that year, I went to the circus without putting up any resistance.
Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 31: American Cauldron, Immigration and Its Discontents - Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays. — Brought to you by — Adam Smith, Hank Oslo, Hans Lander, and Nick Mason. Notes: Is...
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