“Look Mommy, a real cowgirl!” a little girl pointed at me as we walked by. I could have told her I wasn’t a real cowgirl at all – I’ve only ridden a horse a few times in my life. I don’t round up cattle, work on a ranch, or exhibit rodeo-worthy skills. I happen to enjoy looking like a female outlaw, that’s all. It inspires me to be a tough gal. Instead of correcting her I just winked and tipped my hat.
“Sound off, I said SAY-OUND…off!” a white trash-esque woman hollered at her kids. “Git over here right nayow!” She stomped around with a stroller and made sure she was louder than anyone else around so they would know who’s boss. Up ahead of her, a freakishly tall man with dark, coarse hair and an anorexic body was telling a story to his fat little friend. Fat little friend kept stealing glances at the warthogs nearby. One of them flapped its tail, stood stock still, and peed in the mud. I waited for it to fart, but to my disappointment one never escaped.
A young lady and her boyfriend stood side by side in front of the red panda exhibit. Both cute and tattooed, they looked like a nice pair. He played with his fancy camera while she observed the fuzzy red creature inside. “I wonder what that panda is thinking right now?” she pondered. “He gets to experience the same trees, rocks, and surroundings day in and day out. Must be terribly exciting if they add a new element in the cage.” Her comment made me think about my cubicle at work. The entire floor, actually. Same taupe walls, same shitty 80s artwork in cheap frames, same awful coffee. On the floor below where IT works, last year they put in a bunch of new retro furniture in bright, cheerful colors. Their workspaces were replaced with hip, modern desks. It stimulated creativity and made for a more exciting workplace. But up on the fourth floor where I resided we were still stuck with the same old blah.
I entered a large cage with a path winding amongst grass and little trees. We were given a small cup with nectar for the lorikeets to feed on. Lorikeets are petite, rainbow-colored parrots. We were to hold our arms out and wait for the birds to come to us – and come, they did. A couple landed on my hat and two more on my arm. They took turns dipping their beaks in the nectar. I could see their little tongues shooting out to consume the sweet juice. When they were done, they stared at me with their beady bird eyes, sizing up the “cowgirl.”
A penguin bobbed happily in the water while other penguin friends waddled to the water’s edge and dove deep, bursting through the blue. Another one stood to the side and seemed to be posing for everyone. Its flippers were spread wide as if it wanted to hug something.
More people were watching the animals through their phones than with their actual eyes. I’m guilty of this sometimes. Trying to think why we do this – we’re afraid we won’t be able to recall the memory so we need to capture it? We need to share how exciting our lives are to others? Don’t get me wrong, I think photographs and videos are wonderful, but it seems to be consuming everyone these days. Take the time to put down your device and just enjoy the moment.