Monday, October 10, 2005

From apes to teacups

We made it to the zoo in Omaha. It was worth the trip. I was especially impressed with the "Kingdoms of the Night" in the lower level of the desert dome. It was all about creatures that live in the night and it was downright spooky from the bat caves to the dimly-lit swamp full of God-knows-what. The fabricated swamp was the animal version of the Truman Show. In near complete darkness spectators move above the swamp along a winding plank walkway and spy on the animals going about their typical nocturnal activities in a world make to look authentic.

We were mesmerized by the escape antics of a beaver who repeatedly swam under the plank bridge and gnawed the wooden barrier beneath. He'd reappear with a mouthful of soggy wood shavings. He must have thought there was freedom on the other side when we could see it was more manufactured swamp, the side that the bullfrogs inhabited. We tried to tell him, to save him the trouble, but alas. So, we shuffled along to the exit startling something that startled us by jumping into the water. In retrospect, the whole experience of a day's worth of animal viewing was educational and very interesting, but the overall impression I formed was this: I am so glad I am not an animal.

About once a month I empty all our saved change into a glass jar and take it to the bank for saving. I've always had the bank run it through their automatic counter at 7 cents on the dollar, but recently I decided that counting and wrapping it ourselves would be a good learning opportunity. So, that's what we did this morning. Afterwards, we worked on counting from a math workbook.

We were anxious to go to the bank with our stash, but in the car I remembered the banks were closed for the Columbus Day holiday. This is a dangerous situation for your little pile of money. It could easily find its way into your wallet. I was determined that it should reach it's intended destination and I spent not a penny of it which made me feel wise and prudent. Nevermind the fact that today I probably spent more at Osco on toiletries and at the deli for imported cheeses and jams than all the rolled coins in the jar on the floorboard. It's just an exercise in misguided thrift.

Late in the afternoon we sat on the sofa to read. That's when I get sleepy. I said, "please let me rest just a few minutes." And, "No, you can't watch tv, just play or read for a little bit," to which Allison complained heavily. But I closed my eyes anyway and drifted off for not maybe 10 minutes until I stirred back awake. I opened my eyes to see that Allison had surrounded me with her stuffed animals all positioned like sentinels. On the coffee table before me was a chocolate Zinger (with a bite taken out) and a glass of water. She was soft-stepping in with cup of coffee. Did she make that, I exclaimed. No, not really, it was coffee from before but she put "two sugar cubes and cream in it," she said proudly. Naturally, it was cold, but I appreciated the gesture.

So I reclined on my sofa sipping my cold coffee and sharing the Zinger with my daughter and her animals. And I thought about the zooed gorillas, which I despise for some reason. Well, I know the reason--they are too much like us but more crude and nasty. Apes only strengthen my argument for why we should run from our native tendencies. Natural is not good. I don't look to a monkey with any Jane Goodall sentimentality. They are plain gross and I denounce any possibility of kinship, no thank you very much. I say we should do whatever it takes to distinguish ourselves from apes. I'm with the Victorians on this, stiff collars and corsets and all. Thank you God for my superior opposable thumb that I might drink my cold coffee from this porcelain teacup.


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