Over the weekend, we took the kids to the zoo. I posted about this particular zoo previously. My wife and I spent a weekend in Wichita, Kansas for her birthday a couple of years ago and the Sedgewick County Zoo was where we spent most of our time. It is the only zoo in our weekend travel radius that houses gorillas. I love gorillas. I digress in speaking of my love of gorillas.
Ever since my wife and I spent that delightful day there, we have dreamed of taking the kids. Yesterday, that dream came true. Our spring trip was befouled by an earache, but we weren’t about to let the 45 degree temperature and 21 mph winds stop us this time. We stocked up on beanies, long johns and hand warmers and headed out at 7:30 Saturday morning. I usually drive 5 over, unless you’re a law enforcement officer in which case I drive 5 under with my hands at 10 and 2, but yesterday I drove exactly the speed limit as I watched the car thermometer slowly rise from 20 degrees at our departure to 36 by the time we arrived. We crammed hand warmers in every available pocket, pulled our beanies down low, and shivered our way through the gates. After surrendering our $70 (yes, $70 even after a veteran discount, but worth every penny) we proceeded to experience the animals. The flamingos were pretty and the sheep in the petting zoo were skittish. The camel seemed recalcitrant and the giraffes stood in a small indoor pen literally licking the walls with boredom. The elephants pooped at us in their Jurassic Park style indoor pens, but at least the tiger brushed up against the glass in greeting. The gorillas ignored us completely. The baby orangutan was cute but preoccupied with play.
We had fun, and got a lot of exercise, but it wasn’t until we saw the pelicans, near the end of our excursion, that I nearly fell to the ground laughing. As we watched them simply stand, we imparted to the kids some pelican facts. Pelican under-beaks expand to accommodate whole fish. The bird that saved Nemo was a pelican. And other such. The kids soon grew bored and, as we walked away my six-year-old son said, “I like those Hellicans.” As fans of “The Big Bang Theory”, my wife and I immediately thought of the card games that the guys play in which they throw down cards and enunciate their ridiculous pun names. I pictured a bird with fire streaming from its nostrils as its under-beak expanded to admit the souls of the drowned damned.
After we left, we stopped at a Cajun place so that I could get a fried alligator sandwich to go (which, to my dismay and disbelief, was mostly eaten by my kids on the way to our planned dinner joint) and then proceeded to a 50’s style diner called Spangles. I got some hot sauce to dip my fries in and challenged the kids to drink the (large) remaining amount in exchange for a ridiculous prize. My 8 year old daughter screamed, “I’ll do it if I get a weird chicken!” She then made noises that the English language hasn’t the letters to describe. “I want a weird, annoying chicken!” she screamed to the thankfully empty dining room. When I told her she, herself, is a weird annoying chicken, she emitted the weirdest, most annoying laugh anyone ever heard. I laughed a normal, but no less annoying, laugh in response.
Today, we extended the fun by going to the massive Bass Pro outdoor shop in Springfield. If you’ve never been, it’s free and almost like a museum. If you’re in the Springfield, MO area, its worth a stop just for the visual feast that is Bass Pro. That really isn’t the point I wanted to make. Consider it an honorable mention. Springfield is also home to a place called Lambert’s Café. The food is good, but what really sells it is the “throwed rolls”. This is literally what it sounds like. The dinner rolls are “throwed” across the dining room to desiring patrons. We purposefully neglected to tell the kids that this would happen. That weird, annoying chicken wanting 8 year old was so in awe of the tradition that, when I threw up my hand to request a “throwed roll”, she screamed “WHAT!!” after it nearly hit her in the face. After the first one I caught, every time the roll man came around, three little hands flew up into the air. Halfway through the meal, my Hellican loving son had to use the bathroom. Lambert’s is a very busy place at all hours of operation. As we moved across the massive dining area toward the bathrooms, I focused solely on not tripping the waitresses moving about with the free “pass-arounds” (comfort food side dishes such as fried okra, black eyed peas, fried potatoes and macaroni and tomatoes passed out free of charge by roving wait-staff). While I was trying to make it to the bathroom without tripping them, calculating the optimal, no-food-spillage route in my head, I tripped over my suddenly still-as-a-stone son. I recovered and glared at him before breaking down laughing. The little guy had spotted a roll thrower and stopped in the middle of the walk-way with his hand raised in what he thought was an optimal roll-catching claw, staring intently at the traveling baked-goodsman. “You can’t get a roll on the way to the bathroom!” I exclaimed breathlessly. “Wait until we get back to our table!” When we did, we learned that my oldest, a 9 year old daughter, had caught a roll in the crook of her elbow and it was caught on tape!
I bid you adieu…and a don’t
Adieu…enjoy the weirdnesses of children, despite the annoyance it may cause. Let them be weird. Normal isn’t nearly as fun.
A don’t…be afraid to participate in the strangeness. You only live once. Let the propers proper themselves in the corner.