There was talk of stealing the meerkat… and it was serious talk, not like joking around. We were at Busch Gardens on a date, the two of us and we stood there looking at the meerkats and watching how cute they were.
The fence around the meerkat area wasn’t exactly a fence at all and it only stood about a foot high. There were little trees in there and the zoo staff had carefully placed metal strips at the bottoms of all the tress so that the meerkats couldn’t climb up and escape. It was pretty ludicrous considering that the fence was a foot tall and anyone could have reached down and snatched one of the things.
Which is what Dean and I were thinking of doing.
I have this weird thing with animals… every once in a while, one of them will look me in the eyes and, I swear, we connect on some kind of bizarre level that I can’t explain. It’s almost as if they see inside of me and know who I am and they want desperately to be a part of it. The same thing happens for me and it upsets me when it happens at zoos and such because I really, really feel a strong urge to further explore this connection.
There was one meerkat who stood at the little fence only a few inches away from me and he just stood there looking at me, right in the eyes. He was very calm as the other scurried about and I inched closer to him and sat down. I didn’t touch him, but I did just sit quietly for a few minutes fully expecting that he would run off at any minute. But, he didn’t. The two of us just sat there silently observing each other with no fear between us and that sort of comfort with an animal makes me want to rescue them.
Dean was standing, giggling at the other crazy meerkats and he was wearing a backpack. I calmly looked up at him and said, “Dean. I want this meerkat. He needs me and I need him.”
Dean is not at all surprised by this and he comes over and crouches down and together we silently communicate with this animal for a bit. Then, we discuss stealing him.
The park is set to close in about fifteen minutes and almost no one is there. We seriously consider snatching the thing and just walking out the gate with him. Of course, we have no idea what we would do after that, how we could care for him, what he would eat or if he would be happy away from the other meerkats. But at that moment, we were connected on an intrinsic level and not thinking rationally at all.
In the end, we did not steal the meerkat. It was a mix of fear of getting caught and fear of hurting him that made us walk away without shoving him in a backpack.
The meerkat was hard to walk away from.
Harder yet, was the penguin at the Frankfurt Zoo in Frankfurt, Germany. I was pregnant with Owen and we had decided to take Matt on an outing and, let me tell you, the hills at the Frankfurt Zoo ain’t no joke. The penguin hut was at the very top of this gigantic monster of a hill and pretty much the minute we reached the top, I flopped down on the ground and leaned up against a three foot high plexiglass wall. I sat there for a minute until I heard rustlings behind me. Dean and Matt had wandered around and I turned to see one, lone penguin was standing on the other side of the glass many, many feet away from the rest of them. He had navigated foliage to come sit by me.
I looked at the penguin and he looked at me and the two of us just sat there in silence, two totally different beings with similar expressions on our faces. I didn’t move, really and he just sat next to me and so I finally decided that we would have a little chat. This penguin listened intently and it was extremely liberating. In just a few minutes, I had made a best friend out of a tiny, taciturn little ghost and I really needed that.
After a while, Dean walked up and said, “Ah… I see you have made a friend.”
“I want him,” I replied.
“Of course you do,” Dean says.
I think I might have started to cry because I really needed that penguin.
On the way home, Dean stopped at a store and bought me this gigantic stuffed penguin who I named Frank Sinatra and I was in love and slept with the thing, used it as a pillow and pretty much carried it around my house. One of my kids threw up on him and I washed him very carefully. Now, I don’t know where he is and I’m really upset about it.
For some reason, I really like penguins.
Today, we went to the zoo. I’m not exactly clear about whether or not I’m still on bedrest, but to the zoo we went and it was fun, but this zoo made me really sad. I saw a sign for the penguins and, naturally, went tearing through the zoo to be with them, but this penguin area was really upsetting. The penguins looked terrible and they were all crowding in cat carriers and were covered in multicolored bands. They had banded legs and banded wings/flippers and it was just depressing.
I wanted them all, but not because we were connected somehow. I wanted them because they looked miserable.
I wonder if they were looking out at me and thinking the same thing…. that I looked miserable, too.
I did sort of fall in love with a 3,300 pound walrus named ET. I wanted to kiss him.
Hopefully, soon… I’ll get some pictures up 🙂