I decided to take advantage of my time in the great metropolis of St. Louis and invite my wife and children to join me at the zoo. Money is always an issue in my family and I felt that the zoo was the answer to my children’s complaints of never getting to do anything. The zoo is free after all. I called my wife from my hotel and made the arrangements. I would escort the five of them through the FREE wonderland that is the St. Louis Zoo!
I stayed in St. Louis that Sunday. While my wife was getting the children ready and preparing to endure the two and a half hour car ride with four sleep deprived yet excited children, I slept in. At the last possible moment I drove the ten minutes to the zoo. There I paid eighteen dollars to park in the parking lot as opposed to seven miles away for the free pre zoo marathon so many others were partaking in. I called my wife and prepared her for the eighteen dollar lot entry she too would have to fork over.
My wife got there (late of course) and after she chewed a bit of my butt off for looking so chipper, we gathered the children and like Dorothy and her fellows we skipped into Oz hand in hand. Colton my three year old son informed me that he JUST WANTED TO SEE AN ELEPHANT!
The first exhibit we came to was empty as was the second and third. When we finally got to see a bear, Colton reminded me that he wanted to see an Elephant. I couldn’t find where the Pachyderms were so we headed towards the penguins, thinking that their role in animated films would help to pacify the kiddos. This of course was a total failure. My daughter hates penguins now because of the smell. I myself won't eat fish for a few weeks. Connor, the two year old, disappeared for what seemed like an eternity. I found him reaching into a bucket of fish behind a zookeeper. Apparently the smell didn’t bother him too much. What do you expect from a kid carrying a load in his pants half the time? Cameron our eleven year old was too cool to be seen with us so he hung back as Colton explained to me that penguins are much smaller and less grey than elephants.
We toured the hippos next. I had fun distracting the boys by talking about hippo poo while My wife took the kids to the restroom one at a time. She too was distracted by poo. I find that anything poo related will get a laugh from young boys. Colton of course was upset because hippo dung is smaller than the elephant piles he longed to see. I don’t need to tell you what his favorite scene was in ’Jurassic Park.’
Speaking of fecal material, the primate house loomed directly in front of us. Thank goodness for the invention of glass. The Chimpanzees were a hit and I was able to pacify Colton a bit as we saw a Rhesus monkey that had ‘Elephantiasis’ of the balls. I told my daughter it was like a kangaroo pouch. Whew, awkward conversation avoided! We left the primate house not a moment too soon. I was beginning to notice a strange similarity between the monkeys and my children. Cameron was scratching himself. Connor was picking his nose and Colton took something out of his hair and stuck it in his mouth.
The reptile house should be avoided by anyone with children. I set the Guinness World Record for how many times a man can say, “Don’t touch the glass!” in a forty five minute period. The number to beat sir is 272. For the mathematician in you that is approximately once every ten seconds! There was a sign on the Cobra terrarium that stated a full grown Cobra carries enough venom to kill an eleph…. I got Colton right the hell out of there before I remembered he couldn’t read yet.
It was time for lunch. You are not allowed to take a cooler of any kind into the free zoo. So we stopped at a café. I ordered six hot dogs, six sodas and six bags of chips. The bill came to just under sixty dollars. The Children weren’t hungry and they all managed to spill their sodas. After the zoo veterinarian on staff gave ‘daddy’ a tranquilizer we headed back to the yellow brick road.
My calves were on fire. I had a child on my shoulders and two in tow held fast in a sweaty hand grip. A sign ahead let me know that we were only half way through and the elephants were dead last on the tour. We stopped at a cutesy little railroad crossing. My wife and I watched with slack lifeless expressions as young childless couples rode passed us. The wind tossed their hair about and their laughter carried across the water of a flamingo pond. I looked at my wife. She was covered with dried ‘Coca Cola’ that had belonged to one of the boys. Her hair didn’t blow in the wind, it was stuck in a mass of soda and sweat. She generally looked the same way I felt and looked. A pair of Elephant droppings in charge of four of the most notorious hell spawn to break through the surface of the earth. I promised myself to spit on the next happy couple I saw. They’ll get theirs though. Just keep having sex suckers. You’ll see what happens. The train passed and so did the moment of bitterness. Onward we trudged. The children began to complain about being hungry.
I would like to take a moment to thank the tree huggers of the world for fixing the zoo. I don’t know if you have been to a zoo lately. Things are a little different now. Do you remember when the animals were in cages and paced to and fro right before your eyes? You walked down a line and there the ‘lions, tigers and bears Oh My’ were to greet you. Well, now the animals each get what looks like ten acres apiece. With plenty of green lush cover to hide in to boot. Once you have traversed the twelve square miles of zoo and seen ten percent of its animals, the healthiest of you will need oxygen and a blood transfusion. We of course elected not to pay the twenty extra dollars each (120 dollars total!) at the gate to ride the train and be guided through the air-conditioned exhibits. So on foot in one hundred degree temperatures we set out to educate our children. Educate them we did. Firstly they learned that large animals stink. Secondly they learned that animals can hide very well, and most animals sleep during the day. Of course the final lesson of the day was simply this, when animals do get up during the day it is pretty much just to have sex. While my eleven year old son thought this was funny, my five year old daughter wanted to know what that Galapagos tortoise was doing and why it was making that noise? Yes tortoises are very loud copulaters. Who knew!? What else did we learn, well Rhesus monkeys carry ten percent of their body weight in their testicles and the male Zebra’s most common ailment is trotting on his own manhood. I am so glad I brought my daughter to St. Louis’s own premier sex education class!
Finally we made it to the Elephants. Colton was Asleep! We headed towards the exit. The zoo had conveniently placed the only exit inside of a gift shop comprised entirely of overpriced plush toys. I purchased four monkeys that hug you with Velcro’d hands. We headed to the vehicles defeated and broke. Colton woke up and I gave him a penny that a machine flattened with an imprint of an elephant on it. It only cost five dollars! I gave the other kids their pennies also. I helped my wife load up the monsters. I slid behind the wheel of my truck. When I looked over all the children smiled at me.
Hah, I did it. It was a success. What a day! And it was free too! I AM THE MAN! I kissed my wife and she smiled a little bit less. After all she had a two and a half hour drive home. That night I had a dream about a monkey with elephant testicles making love to a tortoise that smelled like a fish. (What was in that tranquilizer?) I woke up later feeling sweaty and nervous. You see, right after that weird dream, I had a nightmare that we would have to return to the zoo every year for the next seventeen years or so.
Your jealous of zebras and tortoises son!