Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Behold! It is I. You say I’m beautiful. You say I’m not. What is beautiful? I started working at Coney Island Freak. I was a live human target. At first, my boss lost money because people said I was “too cute” to shoot. He told me, “Look mean, look ugly, and look miserable.” I let my hair grow; whatever paint splashed on me from the paintball guns I would not wipe off. Now I was getting shot. I was making money, my boss was making money. Why? What is beauty? Why is beauty? Why can you shoot ugly? Why not beauty?

As time went by, I started playing with my image. I knew “ugly, mean, miserable” was, how you say, “shootable.” But what else could be shot? Most importantly, what else could not be shot? I dressed in comical costumes. I was a pirate. I put on wigs, masks, etc. One day I even wore a Spiderman costume a few sizes too small. All these and more were “shootable.”

After my second year working at “Shoot the Freak,” carrying a forty pound wooden shield, a paint ball helmet and mask, umpire chin guards, hockey pants, a cup and dodging paint balls my body became what they call “sexy,” “hot,” “attractive,” and any synonyms for beauty. I was once again losing money. Why? Why? Why? Why can’t you shoot beauty? I now had to wear sweaters and hooded sweat shirts to hide my body. What do you know? Here come the shooters! Here come the shots! Here comes the money. They shoot funny, they shoot mean, miserable, ugly, dirty, skinny, fat, black, white, purple-green-red, etc … . Yes, I even used body painting. They don’t shoot beauty.

On July 4th the temperature was 97 degrees. I had no costume, no mask, and no sweatshirts. However, I was behind the shield and helmet. Jumping, dodging, running, weaving. “Step right up, step right up, we have a live human target—a live moving target. Step right up and shoot the freak.” The shooters kept coming we had eight paint ball guns. When one emptied, the customer paid to shoot. It was a revolving door. A never-ending shooting spree. “Step right up and shoot him!” I was running, running.

Running. 97 degrees. Hot, running, running. Shooting, shooting. Running. “A live human target.” I ran for one hour thirty minutes. Still running. Tired. I have paint in my eyes mixed with sweat and sand and tears. Tears. Tears. The fatigue and pain were so unbearable I was crying. And running and crying. I was dodging and weaving and crying quietly. Finally someone remembered I was a human target. A wise guy in the crowd says, “Give a freak a little break.” I was human. I put the shield down. Actually I dropped the shield. I didn’t have the strength to put it down. My body was covered in paint and muscles. The guys grew silent and they went wild. I waited a while before I take off the mask. I didn’t want them to see my tears. I hear, “He’s so sexy, cute, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” How am I sexy? Why? How? You haven’t seen my face. I’ll I take off the mask. Everything is silent. No one is talking.

The shooters put their guns down and refuse to shoot. They say they are done. They don’t ever want their money back. My tip bucket fills to the max. And everyone stares while I clean paint and sand out of my eyes, while I rest and drink. No one shouts. No one shoots. When I was tired, running, crying, dodging, weaving, and ugly, everyone shoots. No one shoots.

You guys are ugly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold, it is I.