the best Christmas EVER!

I say that every year, and every year it's true! And this year it's truer than ever! Considering how I despised Christmas as a kid, nowadays it doesn't take much to please me where Christmas is concerned, and the older I get seems like the less it takes, which is the wonderful secret of growing up, isn't it? I find such pleasure in small things now, in a way I would have sneered at and mocked in the days of my foolish youth.

Itchy and I went to the zoo yesterday. Franklin Zoo not too far from here. It was fairly deserted, as you'd imagine. It was almost eerie, walking around looking at all the empty pens, and then all the sudden you'd come upon a peacock on a park bench, or hear the sound of a lion roaring in the distance. Poor lion. He was skin and bones. And all the animals, from the capybara to the blue-tongued skink in the rain forest exhibit were obviously bored out of their little heads. But you always feel especially bad for the primates. We were watching the silverback gorillas watching us--there's a little baby called Kimani who was on her mama's back, and kept playing with herself. There were two women in VOLUNTEER shirts watching them, too, and chastising Kimani for touching herself and Mama for snatching food from right out of baby's mouth. But who are they to be chastising the gorillas?

The VOLUNTEERS didn't acknowledge us though we were only a couple feet away, and when I asked one of them what the wires that lined the display were, she was sort of snide about it. They're for containment! she snapped. Zap! Ouch.

This morning Itchy asked me which animal reminded me of him. None really. I mean, there weren't that many animals there in the first place, and none that resembled him overmuch in any respect. He reminded me that usually when someone asks a question of you what they really want is for you to ask them back, which is something I always forget. So I said, OK, which animal reminded you of me? And he was like, guess. Criminy, I don't know, the skink? He said, no, the baby gorilla. I'm like, eh? He's like, you've got the same kind of build. I don't see it myself, but I didn't pursue it. I'll take it as a compliment, somehow. I mean, Kimani was cute, for a gorilla. I used to have a lover by that name, by the way, who was even cuter than the baby gorilla.

Mama was not very charming, but Papa, above, was this philosophical type. He was thoughtful and kept to himself, contemplating the mysteries of his cramped little universe (or planning his escape). I mean, you have to feel for these poor creatures, particularly since their behavior, expressions and mannerisms seem strangely, sometimes uncomfortably familiar.

The Mandrills were not as sympathetic, but then they look less like us than the silverbacks, don't they? And as a rule of thumb, human beings seem less kindly disposed towards those who look less like themselves, and in more or less direct proportion to the resemblance or lack thereof. Plus, the Mandrill's are so pornographic. No concealed ovulation here. Can you imagine human society if our more modest females didn't have concealed ovulation? It boggles the mind to think how different everything would be if evolution had taken just a very slightly different turn.

On our way out, we talked about what changes might make the zoo a bigger draw. There's a lot of potential there. What they need to do is hire some big-name do-nothing CEO at an unnecessarily, outrageously exorbitant fee, and build a big, beautiful gift shop right at the entrance, with a Starbuck's in it, and quadruple the entrance fee. If it doesn't cost enough to get in middle class people won't feel like there's anything worth seeing inside. But if the cost of admission is outrageous even if all the animals are stuffed or made of papier-mache, they won't admit it. As long as there's something to buy in the gift shop, that is. And a Starbuck's.

Plus, feed the Goddam animals. Don't the Geneva Conventions apply here? You can't starve a prisoner. That lion was trying to roar--but it was kind of a pathetic sound he was making. Because he was too weak to really roar like a lion should roar. Itchy was like, that's how they get when you all you feed 'em's Alpo. And the gorillas. Those VOLUNTEERS tossed them a few carrot and celery slices. Mama Gorilla was eating the straw off the floor. I mean, come on.

Later in the evening we went to the early Christmas Eve service at Trinity Church. I had never been inside, but, to be truthful, while it was nice and all, it was nothing special. I knew almost as soon as we got there it was a mistake to have come. You got a bunch of white people in the pews who can't carry a tune and that Phantom of the Opera organ music. There were a couple of Midieval pieces--a cappella--that were lovely, but other than that everything, regardless of how glorious it was meant to be came out sounding like a funeral dirge.

The sermon was informative rather than persuasive, listing who Christ was born for. "If you're x,y, or z, then He was born for you." The point was obviously that He had been born for everyone, so that went on and on and on. It was an exhaustive inventory. There was one line I jotted down, because I liked it, and that was "He came to hallow being human." And that seems to me to be something quite practical a Messiah could do.

We left during communion to have margaritas at a steakhouse down the street. If they did the Last Supper today, they'd probably have it catered, with a fully-stocked cash bar, and I'm sure a couple of the disciples would order margaritas, so I felt totally justified. I wonder if they'd have had bloody marys? Judas probably. Peter would have had whatever The Lord was having. Such a brown-noser. I'm just surprised Christ couldn't see it.

Oh, but the part I most disliked about the mass was the greeting, or "The Peace" as it was called in the program, where you turn to your neighbor and say "The peace of the Lord be with you," and they say, "and also with you." I wasn't really feeling the love, if I'm to be a hundred percent honest about it. And anyway, I like doing things in my own time, and my own way. That's probably what I get my nose all bent out of joint over when it comes to church-going. It's always stand up! Sit down! stand up! On your knees! Say this! Say that! Stand up! Sing along! Sit down! Shut up! Now drop and gimme twenty! No wonder Christians are so friggin bossy. Monkey see, monkey do, right? I feel like screaming, hey! You're not the boss of me! But, you know, you go to church, you gotta know what you're getting into. I like the pomp and circumstance, but I can do without the audience participation. Next year I'll take in a concert instead. Bach or Handel, or something like that.

Like I said, we went to a steakhouse afterwards, had a lovely meal and got tanked. Woke up (a little hung-over, maybe) to a good, old-fashioned Christmas-morning shag, had brunch, napped the afternoon away, and made a bunch of phone calls in the evening, to relatives and friends. Got up to speed on all the gossip back home.

All in all, a very Merry Christmas.


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