Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

In addition to tsunami warnings the cute coastal town warned me not to touch seals on the shore. There was a harsh monetary punishment for coming within 50 feet of the sea mammal. As a rebellious spirit I decided I had to break the law. I vowed to come within 49 feet or less of a live seal and poke it. My weapon of choice was my finger, with a short stick as a backup.

Sadly, I never achieved my goal of poking a seal. During a lovely walk on the beach a rock started to bark. After my girly shrikes ended I was delighted to find the noise coming from a cute little seal pup. The small creature looked up at me with big brown eyes (actually eye, the right one was crusty and closed) and instantly like the Grinch my heart grew. I also realized this thing was infected, and from the look of the funk eye it was not good.

I am a very tactile person when it comes to animals. Going to zoos and seeing animals just out of reach is torture. These beautiful majestic creatures behind plastic and bars call my name. They appear to say, “pssst Eddie, forget the sign, please pet us!” It is not just living creatures; I also have to fight the urge to touch museum artifacts and works of art. Like shooting up with dirty needles my personal demons are risky.

Years ago, at the National Zoo I was joking around with friends about panda coats. (If you ask me babies would also make a great leather coat. Over-fed babies plump and supple for the skinning. Babies from all different ethnicity's would create a darling patchwork effect… I am Cruella DeVille.) As soon as the sentence was out of my mouth a panda lady appeared. I do not use the name “panda lady” lightly; this woman was COVERED in panda gear. She wore panda shoelaces, socks, pants, t-shirt, vest, necklace and earrings. To top it all off panda lady donned a pair of panda ears in her damaged perm fried hair.

In a deep robust hausfrau voice panda lady proceeded to shout information at me. She informed the growing group panda hair was “poor coat material” along with other useless facts. All of a sudden from the back of her panda pants pocket the zoo worker (or what I hope was a zoo worker) pulled out a bag of panda hair (or what I hope was a bag of panda hair). The woman kept moving to stop me from running away. She firmly instructed me to reach into her zip block bag and touch the furry mass. The hair felt identical to a goat (truth-be-told it could have been a bag of goat hair). Yet, the experience quenched my thirst, I found out what a panda feels like without jumping into the bamboo ridden habitat.

There is a lesson in all of this (I am also the internet Aesop):

1) Panda people are weird

2) Sometimes making rude jokes and mistreating endangered wildlife can be a risky, yet awesome life choice.

I wish I could quit you,



Anonymous said...

I also have a weird experience with a Panda person at the National Zoo. A couple summers ago, me and some friends were scoping out the panda, when all of a sudden, this creepshow of a man pops up behind us and starts spouting off random facts about our dear Panda friend. Like how he was eating bamboo (um, obviously, thanks guy), and sitting in an air-conditioned rock structure, and how its name is Tian Tian (meaning "more and more"). There was absolutely nothing signifying that this man was actually employed by the zoo. Unlike you, my panda person didn't offer me a bag of panda hair to feel. However, this was around the time of the pregnant panda mom, so the guy was all like "If anyone would like to know what a Panda fetus looks like, I have a replica over there in my corner." I didn't venture over, but I can only assume the replica was crafted out of discarded gum and maps to the zoo.

In other words, panda people = creepy.

2b1b: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

I hate pandas.

There I said it.

Crazy panda people that should be in psych ward not at the National Zoo.


Anonymous said...

Tian Tian Tian, how do you like it? how do you like it?

so did you touch the seal or not?


Anonymous said...

No, I did not poke the seal. It was diseased and sneezed on me, it was gross.

I now have a cold and hope to god it is not some weird seal virus.


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