Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Little Rock Zoo was a zoo today. Redundancy is not something of which I make a common habit but in this case I’ll make an unusual exception. Tommy didn’t know when he invited us to come see the zoo, that the zoo had invited everyone the same day—for a free day at the zoo. They expected at most 8,000. By the time we escaped the massive gates in mid-afternoon, at least 20, 000 had been through the front gates. I found myself studying people with as much curiosity as ever I studied primates or reptiles or pachyderms. Hairdos resembling the plumage of exotic birds, outfits that rivaled peacocks and all kinds of faces with all kinds of expressions that might frighten even the apes. Among the hordes of people that crowded so thickly as to make me feel like I was inside a pressure cooker, I lost myself in watching and forgot that others might find me of interest: until a group of Indian men caught my attention, clearly discussing me inside the tropical rain forest exhibit. Not checking me out, but discussing my clothing—a blue Punjabi and flip flops. Likely they were noting that I had the scarf around my neck incorrectly or that the pattern was severely out of style, or even that the make was certainly from farther East into the Orient than Asia—from Thailand to be exact.

The exhibits Tommy showed off with the most pride were the ones he’d built—tall posts wrapped with rope and covered with a thatched roof. Papa walked along almost in a daze. By the time we left the zoo, his exhaustion was dripping down his face like perspiration. Poor guy. He dislikes crowds as much as I dislike chocolate cake.

We followed Tommy and his sister Shazelle…er…Jennifer….home for supper. His poor mom has been begging to come with him to visit us for weeks. She’s quite certain he’s keeping her away on purpose. I can’t imagine why Tommy would do that? (end sarcasm) His family is certainly unique with a capital “Q” (which translates to slightly odd), but splendidly hospitable and splendid cooks. “Tommy said to be sure there was ice cream in the house,” his mom announced, proud that she was quite prepared, not only with ice cream, but also with an enormous, gooey chocolate cake. How does one politely refuse chocolate cake? That’s an honest question, since I wasn’t successful.

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