November 10, 2007

Charismatic megafauna!

I just went to the zoo! It was unexpectedly nice out (read: sunny and not raining but still 48 degrees) today and I was casting around for something outsidey to do when I suddenly realized I had not yet been to the Oregon Zoo. So I grabbed my camera and hopped on the train, and spent two hours roaming around the zoo by myself getting strange looks from small children.

One toddler was so much more interested in me than in the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit that I felt compelled to gently inform him that I was not a zoo animal. He continued staring anyway.

The zoo was, as zoos generally are, awesome for the little kid part of me and kind of horrifying for the adult part. I spent several minutes standing in front of the chimpanzee habitat apologizing on behalf of Homo sapiens sapiens for the fact that fuzzy people who use tools and exhibit complex social structure and optional bipedality have to live in glass-walled concrete boxes instead of in the forest. Of course, non-fuzzy people who use tools and exhibit complex social structure and obligate bipedality live in concrete boxes for the most part too, so maybe I should apologize to myself while I'm at it.

Then I saw a peacock standing in line at the coffee stand. It was patient and orderly and stood behind this dude for several minutes before anyone but me seemed to notice it.

I took a crapload of pictures, but because I was trying not to be the jackass with the camera flashing lights at the animals, I took them all without flash. Ergo they are mostly blurry and dim, but in light of the important lesson I learned about the animal kingdom -- they are not at all impressed by me and feel perfectly at home showing me their rear ends -- the lack of clarity is probably not that tragic. But I will show you a few of the ones that turned out okay.

That, right there, that is a giraffe. I knew giraffe, and sir, you are no giraffe.

There was, through careful selection of the viewing flock no doubt, only one black sheep. I felt a sudden cliched and exaggerated kinship. And for the record, what I thought was people making unconvincing "baa" noises at the sheep was, in fact, the sheep. Making unconvincing "baa" noises. THEY SOUND JUST LIKE PEOPLE SAYING BAA. What the hell?

I thought this was a gnu and so I had a clever comment about freely distributing its picture all ready for you guys. It turns out that I was totally misinformed about gnus, and this is, er, something else.

That is a sarcastic twentysomething taking pictures of herself making spooky faces in a fake hippopotamus den next to the Lagoon Of Invisible Hippopotami. Five seconds after this picture was taken a speaker next to the fake hippopotamus den started making incredibly loud, and above all close-sounding, hippopotamus noises and the sarcastic twentysomething got the hell out of there at high speed. She was subsequently, well, sheepish.

On the way to the zoo I had a strange encounter with a sort of pressingly-friendly dude riding the Max. He tried to strike up a conversation with me, but by two minutes in it had turned with apparent irrevocability to the subject of whether I wanted to hang out with him sometime and what we might go do. I ended up refusing to give him my phone number and failing to articulate the perfectly valid reason why not, which was that having established no common interest or rapport with me in the course of my few halfhearted responses, his intense interest in making plans with me was out of all proportion to our interaction thus far and I found it unnerving. But since of course that clear explanation wasn't available to me on the spur of the moment, he was taken aback and insulted. I hereby confess that his subsequent pointed ignoring of me totally failed to make me repentant.

Look an elephant!

Posted by dianna at November 10, 2007 07:02 PM

that's gno gnu, but gnu gnew that.

Posted by: Erik at November 10, 2007 07:29 PM

Gnusflash! It is a mountain goat!

Barley malt, hops, and clear, fresh mountain... goat!

Posted by: Dianna at November 10, 2007 08:26 PM

I've had similar subway experiences, and you're right, "Look, an elephant!" can be a very effective way to distract your suitor while you slip into another car. NOTE: Before using this line, ensure that there is, in fact, an elephant nearby.

Posted by: didofoot at November 11, 2007 09:10 AM