Monday, March 23, 2009

Petting Zoo

Is it wrong that I scheeve the animals in the petting zoo? Seconda goes nuts when she sees those gnarly-ass sheep with their enormous tongues and huge, defeated eyes -- and all my baby wants to do is nourish them with victuals from the coin-operated machines. This disgusts me but being the selfless mother that I am, I buy her the sheep food and then, oh -- big surprise -- she’s too scared to do it herself.

“You do it, Mommy!” she begs.

I don’t see why watching the sheep slurp my hand is at all gratifying to her, but she has her reasons and so I put on a happy face and let the animal lick on me more than I allow my husband to most days. This act alone should justify my nomination for some Mom of the Year award.

It not that I am a heartless person. I adore animals of all kinds, shapes and sizes – on TV, and in books. What can I say? I was a city kid and it’s just not natural for us. David, on the other hand, was raised in a small town in the Smoky Mountains where you are wont to come across petting-zoo-type animals while taking out the trash. You could supply all of Brooklyn’s nursery schools with classroom pets just from what you find in my mother-in-law’s garden -- rabbits, box turtles, field mice, bullfrogs. Animals not sanctioned for classroom use, too, like wild turkeys and deer, horse, and scores of black bears. David’s mother has a snapshot on her fridge of an 8 foot-tall bear reaching over their porch railing to eat from the bird feeder.

Which is why, when Sec decides that it’s feeding time at the old children’s zoo, I hand her over to her pops. Problem is, he scheeves petting zoo animas as much as I do But because he does not want to confess in front of his children that he, a grown man, is scared of a dwarf goat, he does it, and everyone is happy. Or at least, Seconda and I are.

I’d love to pass the buck to Primo, because after all, this is what big brothers do. But he’s not having any of it because sadly, he’s inherited our distaste for non-human living creatures. He just sits on the bench a safe distance away eating pretzels and asking WHY we have to go the zoo.

“Because it’s FUN,” I explain, pinching my nose as the odor of manure wafts by, ”What’s the matter with you? You’re a kid – you’re supposed to like this stuff.”

I sit next to him and steal a few pretzels: “Where do you want to go, anyway?” I ask.

“Antarctica,” he responds promptly, his mouth full, “Or to the planet of Pluto. Or Transylvania.”

What can I say to that? He’s right, as usual, that precocious, delicious little savant. Who cares if Pluto's not technically a planet anymore? It still kicks the petting zoo’s ass.

How about you? Petting-zoo-animal lover or no? And while we're on the subject, do you think Purell is strong enough to kill the strange strains of farm-animal disease floating around the place? Discuss.