August 7, 2000
Oh Poop.


We asked Daughter #1, "What would you like to do for fun on Sunday?"

This wasn't Mom and David being generous. This was Mom and  David totally out of ideas and passing responsibility for entertainment planning on to our houseguest.

Daughter #1 said, "What about the zoo?"

The zoo!  Of COURSE!!  We love the zoo!!

Children! Junk food!  Walking around in the great outdoors! Animals, animals, animals!

Let's all go to the ZOO!

It sounded like the perfect activity for the bunch of us, including two small children. We set off in high spirits. 

Six hours, four and a half miles by foot, $106.72 and two antihistamines later ... I was remembering precisely what it is that I hate about the zoo.

Children. Junk food. Walking around in the great outdoors.

And all of those goddamn animals, animals, animals.


Mom & Jaymi at the San Francisco Zoo
August 2000
(As always, click to see enlarged photo)

My problem is that I tend to romanticize the zoo. When I haven't been there in a few years, I begin to wax absurdly nostalgic about it ... remembering the good stuff (the polar bears, the soft pretzels, the ice-cold water in the drinking fountains) and selectively un-remembering the bad stuff (everything else).

The zoo is just one of those things, for me, that always sounds like so much more fun than it really is.

(Like childbirth.)

I will admit that there were some *fun* moments yesterday. The lorikeet exhibit, for example, was actually pretty cool. A zoo employee ushers you into a special fenced-in enclosure, hands you a $1.00 cup of "lorikeet nectar," and then takes pictures of you while these screechy little birds with claws like LETTER OPENERS launch a full-out turf war in your hair.

Serious fun!

The albino alligator, on loan from the New Orleans zoo, was deliciously creepy. So were the tigers. So were the orange spotted stingrays. So was the little boy at the table next to ours during lunch.

And Jaymi and I love the meerkats ... long our favorite zoo creature.

But after a few hours of tromping around from one exhibit to the next ... Oh look -- it's the GIRAFFES! Oh look -- it's the BEARS! ... the "fun factor" was beginning to wear a little thin. As were my sandals.


Mom & Jaymi in the lorikeet enclosure, San Francisco Zoo
August 2000
(As always, click to see enlarged photo)

Our original plan had been to do a tour of the zoo -- maybe two or three hours, tops: however long it took to see the most interesting animals, buy a tacky souvenir in the gift shop, take some pictures for the website -- and then we would head over to the Richmond District for lunch at our favorite little Chinese restaurant.

I could already taste the Spicy Orange Chicken.

There was, however, a last-minute change of plans. The zoo "café" -- a rather grandiose name for a row of glorified hot dog carts -- lay dead ahead.

"I AM sorta hungry," said Jaymi. That clinched it, of course.

David and Jaymi headed immediately for the hamburger line. I opted for what appeared, at first glance, to be the slightly-groovier chicken, pizza and salad line ... but which turned out (as I got closer) to be just another gateway to the hamburger and hot dog window.  Neither sounded appetizing. Neither looked appetizing, either: dry slabs of overcooked brownish gray meat, plopped on an anemic bun.

As a matter of fact, all of a sudden nothing sounded good.

It was very strange. All I'd had to eat all day was a tiny bowl of soy cereal for breakfast, and then half a soft pretzel from one of the junk food carts, just before we got to the polar bears. We'd been tromping around for hours. Why wasn't I hungry?

Just then, I heard a plaintive little voice from somewhere behind me in the food line say, "Mommy, what's that bad smell?"

And suddenly ... all I could smell was poop.

It was all around me. Zebra poop. Penguin poop. Musk Ox poop. Monkey poop.  Poop in the air, poop in the bushes, poop on the picnic tables and the benches, poop emanating from the hot dog grills in front of me. Poop on my jean jacket. Poop in my hair.

And then there was the people poop.

Poop in the fully-loaded diaper of the infant dangling from the backpack, directly in front of me.  Poop in the fully-loaded diaper of the infant screaming in his mother's arms, directly behind me.  Poop in the fully-loaded diaper of the infant screaming in the stroller to my immediate left.

Poop in the fully-loaded diapers of the other 43,897,621 infants, toddlers and VFW guys visiting the zoo that day.

The air was suddenly redolent with the fragrance of a bazillion *poop molecules.* No wonder I didn't have any appetite.

"You're not eating anything?" David said, when I returned to the lunch table empty-handed. I shook my head a little, and then I sat down next to Jaymi, held my breath and nibbled on an onion ring for the next twenty minutes, while my companions enjoyed a leisurely lunch. I figured I would grab something on the way home.

As soon as I *flushed* the poop smell out of my system.

Do me a favor? Next time I start waxing nostalgic about the zoo again? Make me go to the AQUARIUM instead.

Jaymi at the SF Zoo ~ August 2000

this is cool! thank you!

throw a rock