Jun 24, 2008

My Father and the Baboons

The male members of my family have a history of acting oddly (read: poorly) at the zoo. Growing up, my brother was just awful with any and all animals, from teasing a raccoon until the poor animal went berserk, reached into my brother's shirtfront pocket and stole a ballpoint pen which it then refused to relinquish, to which a zookeeper in turn went berserk because the raccoon had what amounted to a lethal weapon, right up to teasing a cage full of chimpanzees until one of those poor animals also went berserk and ripped a glass soda bottle from my brother's hand, thus sending yet another zookeeper into paroxysms of hysteria at the sight of a chimp with a sharp glass projectile. But to be fair, he came by this behavior honestly, having been taken to the zoo many, many times by our father.

My father, a quiet and emotionally reserved man in virtually every area of his existence, for some reason known only to him, stepped wildly out of character and became a blathering lunatic when it came to baboons. Only the baboons, or as my mother refers to them, "You know, those monkeys with the blue bottoms and the long, striped noses?" My father would jump up and down, make faces, flail his arms madly about and make ridiculous noises until the baboons would charge at him and repeatedly fling themselves against their cage front in an attempt to stop him from making a complete spectacle of himself in a very public place. This was in the midwest in the late 1950's (thankfully predating my birth by quite a few years) and at one point the zoo actually closed for many months while the complete operation was moved to a brand new zoo on the other side of the city. And sure enough, when the new zoo opened and my parents and brother went to visit their favorite animals in their new home, those baboons, even after not having laid eyes on my father for many, many months, instantly recognized him and tried to attack him once again. To which, naturally, my father immediately resumed his bizarre taunting of them. I'm sure it was a mutual thing, with both sides getting something out of it and everyone involved finding themselves quite satisfied when all was said and done.

And so it is with no wonder whatsoever that my brother behaves so deplorably around poor caged animals. Look who his childhood role model was.

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