I’ve been to the zoo maybe once in my advanced adult life and it was not a good experience. Everything seemed backwards. The animals were locked up while the dirty, dangerous children were allowed to roam free. Free! It was absurd.
For some reason, though, when I came up with the idea to go to the aquarium with my lady friend and my little miracle baby, I expected it to be different. But from the moment we got into the queue and paid approximately $3 million for our tickets, it became apparent that “aquarium” was a bit of a misnomer. The place should have been called a “perpetual aquatic displeasuredome”.
The plan was to show the little miracle what my lady friend referred to as “the fishies”. Well, not only did we show him “the fishies”, we also showed him a new kind of fear. The Fishy Fear. Putting him up close to the glass of the tanks, the boy was initially thrilled, squealing with delight.
Then a big fish swam close to the glass – and delight turned to terror.
[This is the fish that terrified my little miracle. Will he grow up and get his revenge?]
From where he was standing, I suppose it looked like one of those groupers or whatever was coming right at him because his whole body shuddered like I’ve never seen it do before. He was so visibly shaken, I was worried the episode might stay with him forever. I pictured him in 45 years or so, sitting on the edge of his bed in the middle of the night, smoking a cigarette and staring out into the middle distance, still unable to release himself from the stranglehold of the Fishy Fear.
Maybe he’d marry a woman who tried desperately to understand his affliction, but would forget about it once in a while and bring home a goldfish in a plastic bag.
My Little Miracle Baby: What. The #*$@. Is. That.
My Little Miracle Baby’s Wife: It’s. A. Goldfish.
MLMB: What is it doing here?
MLMBsW: I thought it would be a fun to have a pet – and it could help you get over your…
MLMB: Fun? Did you also think it would be fun to send me to an early grave? Because that’s what you’re doing.
MLMBsW: It’s just a tiny goldfish!
MLMB: It’s the devil!
He grabs the goldfish bag and throws it out the window.
MLMBsW: This Fishy Fear is killing us!!
They both weep…
Less traumatising to my baby were, surprisingly, the long neck turtles, which must surely be the ugliest of the turtles. They look like a clam trying to eat five snakes.
When we came upon the penguin tank, I thought nothing would distract me from their cuteness – until a stranger came out of nowhere and grabbed and caressed my baby’s hand. The woman then said, “So cute” and disappeared back into the crowd. Didn’t look at me, didn’t ask for permission to touch my baby, just did it. I was shocked and appalled. Is that even legal? Can anyone just go up to a baby and touch it? Where was aquarium security?
People in general seem to feel that the normal rules of society don’t apply to babies. If I went up to a stranger and rubbed her hand said something like “Hey, cutie,” I’d be locked up. I wonder how that woman would have felt if I had replied with, “You’re not so bad yourself, hot stuff. Oink oink. I’m a piggy.”
[While I gawked at penguins, an apparent escaped mental patient held my baby’s hand.]
The best part of the aquarium was the part where you could walk through a tunnel under the tank, so all around you were creatures of the deep. It gave you a good look at the sharks and rays, but also gave you the opportunity to wade through a knee deep swamp of children and prams and parents. Luckily, I was wearing my galoshes.
[Shark! Ooh, scary…]
We exited through the gift shop, of course, where we found loads of wonderful stuffed plush versions of the animals we had just seen in real life, like these terribly depressed, decapitated turtles with eye patches.
[Aren’t these deeply sad turtles piled on top of each so adorable you could just weep, pick them up, try to set them free and get arrested?]
Another nice touch was the cafe, where you could order, of all things, fish and chips. See the fish live then eat ’em! Eat those cute fish! Put them in your belly!
Or, if you weren’t hungry, you buy several non fish-related DVDs, including classics like The Whole Nine Yards. Remember that movie? It’s the one where Bruce Willis… well, he’s, um… and Matthew Perry makes that face and… um…