Pete Sparks was a sensitive boy. So sensitive that even his hair was ticklish. You only had to touch his hair a little bit and he would burst out laughing. And when this ticklish laughter started, no one could make him stop.
So Pete grew up used to strange situations. When his granny’s friends came to visit, he would always end up in stitches because there was never any shortage of little old ladies rubbing his head and saying “How cute!”
Windy days were the worst, with Pete on the ground, paralyzed by laughter whenever the breeze blew on his locks, which, incidentally, were pretty long because at the barber shop no one could manage to cut his hair, due to the non-stop giggling. To see Pete laugh, as well as being great fun, was terribly contagious. When Pete started feeling ticklish, everyone ended up in endless laughter, and they had to just give up whatever they were doing.
As Pete grew up, people started to ban him from certain places. Some activities are serious business, and cannot be done amid gales of laughter. So Pete tried everything to control his ticklishness: he tried wearing a thousand different hats, he used ultra strong hairsprays and gels, he shaved his head, and he even went on a yoga course to see if he could bear the tickling by learning to relax himself.
But nothing worked; it was impossible. He wanted, with all his heart, to just be a normal boy. So, as time went on, he began to feel sad and ill-fated for being different.
This went on until, one day in the street, he met a special clown. The clown was very old and could hardly walk, but when he saw Pete in tears, he went to cheer him up. It didn’t take long to make Pete laugh, and they started to talk. Pete told him about his ticklish problem, and he asked the clown how such an old man could carry on being a clown.
“I have no one to replace me”, said the clown, “and I have a very serious job to do”. Pete looked at him, surprised, and thought “serious? A clown?”, trying to understand what the old man had told him.
“Come, I’ll show you” said the clown.
So the clown took Pete all over the city, to many hospitals, shelters, refuges, schools… All were full of children who were sick, or orphaned, children with very serious problems. But as soon as they saw the clown, their faces changed completely and lit up with a smile. Their short while spent with the clown changed everything for them, but that day was even more special, because in every show Pete’s ticklishness would inevitably make an appearance, and his contagious laughter would end up with the kids laid on the floor, dying with laughter.
When the visit came to an end, the old clown winked at Pete and said “Now do you see what a serious job it is? That’s why I can’t retire, even at my age”.
“It’s true,” answered Pete, smiling and returning the wink, “not everyone could do it, you have to have a special gift for laughter. And that’s so hard to find”. This said, the wind again set off his ticklishness and his laughter.
And that is how Pete became a clown, and replaced the special old man. And from that day onward, the fact that Pete was different actually made him happy, thanks to his special gift.