Thoughts are being gathered over here at 3021 Pioneer, so have an oldie (but probably not really goodie) for today. Originally written August 13th, 2007, and apparently on that day I felt compelled to call Chooch by his actual name.
I’m not sure Henry’s and my relationship was much stronger the last time we were there , but in an attempt to recapture some of the magic we painted smiles upon our faces and stuffed the child into the car and headed out to the Living Treasures Animal Park. It’s about an hour drive from Pittsburgh, and we managed to arrive without a single episode to cause me to stare out the window in protruding-lipped angst. A good sign.
Of course, with Riley being the wild man that he is, it wasn’t exactly the casual hand-holding stroll beneath Victorian lace parasols in Kensington Park, but more like running a relay race in an attempt to chase around your child in near-90 degree heat, trying to make sure he doesn’t end up leaving with another family, shoveling rogue rooster poop into his mouth, or falling into the duck pond. When you’re drenched in clammy-handed sweat there’s no way do you want to be holding the hand of your partner who just got done feeding a cow and the entire three-ring fly circus he’s hosting upon his back.
For the most part, it was what you would imagine from a small zoo. Animals shitting, lions sleeping with their backs toward you, asshole kids cutting in front of you while their asshole parents talk on their asshole cell phones like the asshole Ray-Banned yuppies they are. And all my child cared about was this one fucking duck over in a gazebo and finally I was like, “I didn’t just spend $20 for you to sit here and throw shit at a duck when we could have driven five miles from home and done this shit for free so now you’re going to come with me and look at a monkey and fucking like it” and then he melted down into a full-blown display of histrionic fireworks, complete with real, plump tears, and it was a nice little glimpse of the next eighteen years of my life. (And also the last 27 of my own, I guess I should add.)
I splurged on the large bag of feed and of course, with the exit in our sight, half of the bag still remained. Not wanting to waste it, I spent some extra time with the dromedary camels. Henry kept yelling at me to keep my hand flat, and I was getting angry. It was flat! I’m quite capable of reading signs, I’m in college, remember?
So I’m standing there, grimacing and dry heaving over the thick and sticky saliva being lacquered onto my hand, when suddenly the one camel started to inhale my entire palm into its large vacuum of a mouth. I was so horrified that I actually choked on my scream. I was wrist-deep in this motherfucker’s jaws and it was starting to apply pressure with its flat teeth. I tried to yank myself back out, but the camel clamped down harder.
Hysteria renders it impossible for me to relay every detail, but I’m fairly sure I roared something to the effect of, “Get it the fuck OFF OF ME!“
You know the situation has reached emergency status when Henry forgoes the eye-rolling and nearly drops our child to come to my aid. I had to squint to see it, but I do believe I detected a trace of panic filling in the lines of Henry’s weathered face. But by this point, I was losing consciousness, so what do I know.
Great, soon I’ll be attending tea parties on a cloud with Steve Irwin, I thought pitifully.
Luckily, Henry used his big manly muscles to rip out my arm with force, postponing my tete-a-tete with the Crocodile Hunter. It was the closest we came to hand-holding all day. Aw, thanks camel.
I was afraid to look at what mangled flesh and bone remained. I held it up, with my non camel-molested hand wrapped around it, stroking it lovingly and swearing to never place it in such compromising situations again. When I finally peeked at it, there were red splotches here and there, presumably broken blood vessels, and my one fingernail was black underneath.
I shoved my camel-battered hand in Henry’s face and screamed, “Look at what that asshole has done! He’s murdered my hand!” Henry seemed alarmed at the blackness of my nail and urged me to show it to one of the staff members. I inwardly gloated at the fact that the son of a bitch actually gave a shit, waited a bit for his concern to balloon into hospital bill horror, and then admitted that it was really just paint souvenirs from my weekend of furious and maniacal art therapy.
Apparently, by ‘flat,’ what the signs really meant is “Don’t feed these fuckers, else you’ll be devoured up to your elbow until you’re fisting this Satan-spawned beast’s hay-stuffed colon. And if, by chance, you’re still conscious when that happens, grope around a bit and see if you can find my wedding band. – The Handless Management.”
All of the fond memories I harbored of riding camels in Morocco have flown out the window. Ahoy, Aversion Island.
And thus, the tone of the day was set. We went to lunch after we left the farm of maim, where we ate to the tune of my whines. “It’s growing worse by the minute!” I’d sob. Henry would make exaggerated efforts to lovingly squeeze my hand from across the table; I’d scream out in pain. Feigning concern, he would ask, “Oh, was that your camel hand?”
I really wished he would stop calling it that because it made me feel like I was wearing an ill-fitting glove.