Sunday, July 09, 2006


Going to the zoo on a Saturday is enough to bring out whatever inner child my cube had crushed long ago, but going with boys pushes me even further into the depths.

No day at the zoo can start before we’re armed with everything we weren’t allowed as kids. We start with a game plan (we’ll skip the birds, except the birds of prey, we’ll ride either the Skyfari or the monorail regardless of the line, we’ll order beer at the themed cafĂ©). Then we think sustenance.

We stop south, at the most amazing donut shop. From outside it looks small, nearly dingy, flanked by other small, dingy storefronts. But inside, it holds two types of treasures: yeast and cake. The yeast donuts are more aptly described as doughnuts; they’re fat and chewy and slathered with sugary glazes. Monstrous cinnamon buns and their pecan counterparts sit sticky, side by side on wax paper. Jelly-filled are large and square. The cake beauties are smaller and denser. Lavender-scented and fresh blueberry flavors are flecked, blue-hued. The round triple chocolate is a surprise: it’s holed, yet with each bite seeps a rich, deep chocolate pudding.

Just as when we were five, we arrive in the Bronx with chocolate teeth and crumbs on our shirts. I had forgotten that this zoo is unlike most others. It’s no mishmash of sad cages, but a forest cut by a paved pathway.

We navigate first to Tiger Mountain and oooh and aaah at the orange and black cats lazing in a deep pond, flipping their tales and yawning at us, but the crowds are tremendous, so we move on.

Next, the polar seems like the luckiest bear in the world. Instead of fishing through frigid waters and slipping on ice shafts, he’s splashing in his own pool, flopping and balancing on a toy shaped like a chunk of the Artic. To see a bear better known for its ability to decapitate a human with a single swipe, acting like my dog is discerning and wonderful. I stand there with my mouth open, as he floats on his back, limbs outstretched, mouth open in an almost smile. Kids in front of me squeal as he tosses the toy to the rocks at the edge and then attempts to retrieve it without getting out of the water, his butt half exposed as he struggles and then captures it. He jumps into the pool, on top of the toy, and then down under again. It’s hard to pull away, but as I see a little girl behind me, stretching on her tiptoes to glimpse the bear, I know I have to leave.

In the World of Darkness, a long-tongued bat hangs in a glass box across from a fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Further on, a bush baby sleeps inside a Trader Joe’s bag. How that bag got in there as a double for a hammock is beyond me, but I hope aloud that it’s only temporary.

Outside, my eyes are bleary, slow to adjust. They fall upon roaming peacocks on the grass. The peacocks are unafraid, just like the ones at the southern estates my mother would drag me to on family vacations to view the structured gardens.

We see a white-faced saki monkey, a duskie titi, a red-handed tamarin. When we stop for drinks, the boys let their minds wander. They talk of the cocaine craze so frequent in “olden days”, when Coca-Cola and pharmacies touted the benefits of the “wonder drug”. They talk of weird sexual fetishes, and how foreign they seem, and then, somehow, wonder if anyone has a homeless fetish (where one would be aroused by dirty rags instead of lingere), spurred by an unsavory sighting near an art gallery on our block. I giggle and hope no one hears.

After that promised ride on the Skyfari, a slow and breezy trip on treetops above the park, we’re done for the day.

It was silly, unstylish, childish, carb-loaded. It was walking, and dirtied our flip-flopped feet and hot in the sun. There were screaming kids, and drippy ice cream pools to sidestep and public bathrooms.

Still, the perfect city Saturday. The best one in recent memories.


work in progress said...

*sigh* Nice Post. Vivid depictions-as always.

(Leaves to get a donut)

Anonymous said...

Sounds delish.

themarina said...

I haven't been to the local zoo in years. Perhaps a visit is in the cards.

Lynn said...

Sounds like so much fun! And with a date!

taza said...

really wonderful post, very evocative! thanks for commenting on my blog. i look forward to reading more of yours!

Cheetarah1980 said...

I haven't been to the Bronx Zoo since 5th grade. I so need to plan an outting. Thanks for the visual.