Provocative Neighbors

“I still need to know what you do about Termites,” I called out to Joanne as I approached she and Peter on her driveway. Joanne is my next door neighbor and Peter does the landscape maintenance for both our houses.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, “I’m not really sure what my guy does but he’s coming a week from tomorrow so I’ll have him knock on your door.”

“Well, wait, what company is it? I’ve already interviewed three and there are things I don’t like about all three of them,” I said as I noticed that Joanne’s dress was completely see through and I could see the silhouettes of her thighs all the way up to her crotch.

“It’s called BugsAway. They’re great! Family owned, very nice people, Christian, they’re great.”

I laughed and I could tell by the look on her face my laughter needed some explaining. “I’m not from Texas or anywhere in the Bible Belt so I’m not used to hearing Christian as a selling point,” I said.

Peter chuckled.

“Trustworthy!” she blurted, “I meant trustworthy by that.”

“Well, I was raised a Catholic and they were molesting alter boys, so I’m not sure you can always equate the two,” I said. Peter laughed out loud. “In fact,” I went on, “if someone held a gun to my head and said I had to align with an organized religion, it would probably be Buddhism. But wait! I hardly know you guys! I’m not supposed to be talking about politics, sex or religion!” Peter threw his head back laughing.

“Where are you going!?” I then demanded of Joanne.

“To her mailbox,” Peter said. I think he knew what I was getting at.

“I just got back from swimming,” Joanne said.

“Oh, it’s a bathing suit cover! I was gonna say your dress is completely see through and was going to offer to lend you a slip!”

Peter was laughing so hard he had to walk away.

________________________________________________


Where Does Whole Foods Find Them?

What do you do with this?” a young checker at Whole Foods asked the 20-something girl in front of me in line as he held up a small bottle while ringing it up.

The girl glanced at his multiple piercings, bracelets and necklaces and looked sort of smitten. “I use it as perfume,” she said, “but it’s a lavender essential oil so it also helps with my sinuses and balances my chakras.” She looked at him hopefully with a smile. He looked at her sideways, took her money, handed her the bottle and then looked at me as she walked away. I was quietly laughing.

Well!” he blurted to me, “That’s her opinion on that!!” He rolled his eyes. “Ya know,” he went on, “I can hang with it when someone talks about healthy, pesticide free food being good for our bodies. But when they parlay into ‘the scent of vanilla will cure your tuberculosis’….No it won’t!! He rolled his eyes again. “If it did we would know that by now! Jus’ sayin’!” he said as they say often in Texas.

___________________________________________________________


Death and New Life

“Look, honey! The Gorilla has gray hair so he must be old like Nana!” a very old woman said to a kid I assumed was her grandchild while pointing to her hair. The woman looked like she was a hundred years old.

As an amateur expert on the Western Lowland Gorilla, I stand in front of their habitat at the Dallas zoo and speak to zoo guests about them. “He’s actually not old,” I said, “he’s 13 which is about 18, 19 in human years. And, he’s not gray he’s silver. He’s a silverback gorilla which means a mature adult. But he’s a young adult.” Nana wasn’t looking at me or hearing me and just kept saying to her grandchild how old this gorilla must be.

“Nana!” a woman of about 38 asserted. “She’s saying he’s not old, you’re not listening to her.” I realized that this was her grandchild and the young one was her great grandchild. “Nana, listen to what the woman is saying!”

Nana looked at me and narrowed her eyes as if trying to focus. “He’s not old?” she asked suspiciously.

“No,” I said, “just silver from maturity.” Nana went on to ask me several questions and as other people gathered around to see the magnificent silverback, Juba, I noticed her flowy shirt had been accidently tucked into her underwear which were showing well above the top of her pants on one side. I was the one to run to the front of the class in junior high to tell the teacher his fly was down before he got eaten alive by a bunch of hormone raging maniacs and I wasn’t going to let Nana continue walking around the zoo like this. I simply reached forward, grabbed her shirt and tugged upward. She realized what was happening, never took her eyes off Juba while she reached back and completed the task. We never said a word about it.

“Where are the chimpanzees?” she finally asked excitedly. I told her how to get to them and told her to look for our one year old baby chimp.

“A baby? Yipeeee!” she exclaimed as she staggered away. “I gotta go find my kids!” Oddly, the granddaughter with the child in the stroller had moved on and left this incredibly old lady by herself. It didn’t seem to bother Nana but it bothered me. This woman wasn’t moving well.

An hour or two later I was leaving the gorilla research station when suddenly Nana appeared. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to drive you crazy with so many questions today,” she said. “But, where are the elephants?” She was alone again.

“I will walk you to the elephants, Nana,” she seemed unstable and it was hot. “Now, up ahead do you want to take the stairs or the stroller ramp?” I asked.

“I know, I look drunk!” she exclaimed with a laugh, “I’ll take the stroller ramp.”

“You don’t look drunk, you just look kinda old,” I said.

“Kinda old,” she giggled under her breath. “I’m on morphine,” she said, “I have cancer.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Wow, morphine, are you dying?”

“Yes,” she said as she hung onto the railing teetering as she walked, “but it’s fine. I’m 85, I smoked from the time I was 16 until I was 66! I should have gotten cancer when I was 21!” she exclaimed as she gave me a friendly slap on the shoulder. “Oh, I see the kids! I’ll just catch up with them. Thank you for your help.”

“Nana,” I said, “just past the elephants are the giraffes and there are two babies in there.”

Two babies! Yipeeeee!” she said as she waved her arms.

____________________________________________________________


Degradation and Intimidation

Shortly after Ryan arrived, a termite specialist named Garrett came to give me an estimate on installing a termite control system that I have heard is important here in Texas. Heck, in Scottsdale, all I had to worry about were scorpions and rattlesnakes, my comfort zone. Termites in Texas?!? Eeeeew!

We just moved into a new house and there have been a lot of service people coming and going working on various things. Ryan is an AV/electronics guy and was working quietly in the house for hours. He is smart, gregarious and adorable, probably 28 or 29 years old. He was working in the great room, which is the main room in the house and was privy to my conversations with at least two other service people that day.

I’ve owned a lot of houses in my life. Houses I’ve lived in and houses I’ve rented out and I have a lot of experience dealing with these service guys. I am good at it now but only because I’ve attended the school of very hard knocks for so many years. The first thing Garrett did was pull out a color brochure with diagrams and schematics of all the insidious and horrible things termites can do.

“I don’t want to see that,” I said.

“Uh, what? You don’t?” he said.

“No, I don’t.” I said. “It feels like you are trying to scare me. If a house can be built, anything that goes wrong with it can be fixed and I’m not scared.

Garrett put the menacing brochure away, pulled out another one and began telling me my choices of how to control termites in Texas. It came down to either pumping a “liquid” (which was colored green on the brochure) in gallons under my grass, plants and flowers around the house OR installing “bait houses” around the property.

“What’s in the green liquid?” I asked.

“It’s a non-toxic fluid that the termites cannot get through or survive…”

“It’s a poisonous pesticide then and I don’t want it around my family.” I asserted.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it that. We use it at nursery schools and hospitals and my company has paid for studies so we know it’s safe,” he said rather sheepishly.

“Okay, Garrett, your company paid for the studies and if I had more time I would ask you which nursery schools and hospitals you use that for and I would avoid them like the plague. Pesticides are not an option at my house, in my food or in my garden. Please tell me about that bait choice.”

Long story short, the bait thing is a little less lethal although not pleasant if you are a termite (It stunts their growth so they never come to maturity and can never lay eggs) and after I talk to several neighbors to find out if this is something truly necessary I’ll figure out what I want to do.

Shortly after Garrett left, an air conditioning repairman came. He started by trying to alarm me with dire and disastrous predictions about my units and before even diagnosing the current problem was trying to sell me a pre-paid maintenance program that I know I don’t need. Little did he yet know he had met his match.

“I am not scared.” I said which of course disarmed him. “I’m not scared of air conditioners finally blowing out or anything else about a house blowing out! That’s what things in houses do when their life is over. That’s what we do when our lives are over. I just need to know what is needed right at this moment for this unit to be working correctly.” His face went pale but then he quickly, without drama fixed what needed to be fixed and high tailed it out of my house. Yay!

When he left I closed the door a little harder than I had to and locked it when Ryan bounded over in his youthful enthusiasm with a smile on his face said, “I have to find a woman like you!”

I was completely taken aback. First because I had forgotten he was even in the house and second because I was shocked he said that. It would have made way more sense to me if he had said I have to avoid women like you.

“You can’t have a woman like me.” I blurted back to Ryan.

“What? Why not?” he asked perturbed.

“Because you are too young.” I said. “A woman my age has likely been sabotaged, screwed over, dumped, deceived, betrayed, cheated, ripped off, undermined, manipulated, swindled, stabbed in the back, degraded, mislead, intimidated and humiliated and has finally learned to assert her boundaries on what she is and isn’t willing to tolerate in terms of how she is treated and that takes years. Ninety seven percent of the women your age simply have not been around long enough to experience all that and come out the other end.

“Well then,” he said with twinkle in his eye, “I’m just going to have to find someone older.”

“Well,” I laughed, “she’s going to have to be quite a bit older and I’m married.”

______________________________________________________________


Where Ya At??

“You have amazing diction and enunciation,” my new neighbor and friend Ann said to me. “You should be a public speaker!”

“Well, thanks. And for the record, I was a public speaker for years and taught public speaking one on one to senior executives,” I said.

“Yes!” Ann said, “I knew it!!  We kinda destroy the language here in Texas, don’t we?”

“Well, yeah, in some ways, you do,” I replied.

Ann is highly educated and was an educator herself for years and years.  And, she is a Texan through and through.

I will never say “ya’ll”, “fixin’ ta leave”, or “jus’ sayin’” no matter how long I have to live in Texas! I mentioned in a post a while back that I have been complimented here in Texas on my accent. “It’s an intelligent accent,” one Texan told me. However, I’ve also been reprimanded.

“Ma’am,” a bartender once admonished me when I complained to him about inconsistencies, “don’t ever try to apply correct English grammar to Texas slang.”

I’m from Southern California and my mother was a stickler for the spoken language and corrected my siblings and me constantly as we were growing up. That has been a blessing. We’re all well spoken and the language section of entrance exams were always a walk in the park for us.

Dangling participles are my mother’s worst enemy; I adopted that enemy and my friend Debbie suffers for it. Or, at least she used to. (If you don’t know what a dangling participle is, shame on you. At in the horrid sentence Where are you at? is a dangling participle. The correct sentence would be simply Where are you? There is nothing dangling in that beautiful and concise sentence.  I can think of a few things that are very nice dangling, participles are not one of them.

After I knew Deb for nine or so years, I finally felt comfortable correcting her when those danglers resonated in my body like an electric shock. I explained to her why she might want to stop it and for about eight months she made a heroic effort. One day however, she simply stopped. I called her on it and while I won’t repeat her response here, (I just remember it had an “F” in it) I knew it was time let Debbie be Debbie. Debbie will probably be Debbie in the comments section of this post.

Anyway, back to my new friend Ann. My friend Tim and I were returning from the vet when we let my two dogs out of the car off leash just as a woman I had not yet met in my new neighborhood was walking by my house with a small dog. For some reason, my 100 pound golden retriever Troy, hates small dogs. He raced over barking, growling and crouching like he was going to take that dogs head off. I was screaming, Tim was balancing a huge box of light bulbs we bought on the way home in his arms and the woman was trying to coordinate the confusion, her dog and the leash, which was becoming dangerously wrapped around her legs. I’m no spring chicken and I knew she wasn’t either but I later learned Ann is 87 years old.

To my horror, she went down. Onto the rough pavement. I raced over and grabbed Troy by the collar and dragged him into the house while Tim did what he could to tend to the woman on the ground and a very frightened little dog. I ran back out apologizing profusely wondering if she broke a hip or worse.

“I’m fine!” she said, “I love dogs and I understand dogs; I just want to go home,” and off she went up the street. Tim and I were both shaken but relieved to see she seemed to be walking well.

Tim went to visit her immediately to be sure she was okay while I went in, got online and sent a huge bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to be delivered that same day to Ann’s house. Another lovely concept I learned from my mother. The next day I received a beautifully handwritten note from Ann and we have become fast friends visiting each other often.

So jus’ sayin’, ya’ll. Since I’m not fixin’ to leave Texas anytime soon, i’m so grateful to have my beautiful friend Debbie waiting for my eventual return to Scottsdale, Arizona, my wonderful friend Tim who helps me with so many things here in Texas, my new friend Ann in my new neighborhood and my amazing mother’s influence in the person I am today.

____________________________________________________________


Funny Texas Indians

“You mean Chicken Korma?” the stout man asked in his thick Indian accent from behind the host stand.

“No, just the Korma sauce,” I replied. “I want just the sauce and I’ll put my own organic chicken in it.”

“Korma is all together in a big pot with the tomatoes, cream and other ingredients.” He looked utterly perplexed which utterly perplexed me.

“I know,” I said, “can I buy a container of it? I used to buy it every week at an Indian restaurant by my house in Scottsdale.”

“No one has ever asked for this before. I don’t think I can sell it that way; it would probably be thirty dollars,” he said as he looked at me suspiciously. I think at this point he was just trying to get rid of me because he was in the middle of his lunch rush and I threw a wrench into the works with this seemingly troublesome and outrageous request.

“Thirty dollars for a couple servings of Korma sauce?” I asked surprised.

“Well or fifteen or twenty,” he said looking around bewildered.

“If it’s really good Korma, fifteen is okay.” I said wondering if I sounded like I was bartering. “Is there someone you can ask, maybe the chef?”

He flitted away in the direction of the kitchen.

My husband and I love Chicken Korma and while I have tried and tried to make it and have come very close, it’s just not as delightfully Indian as when it comes from a good Indian restaurant.

I could see beyond a glass wall separating the entrance of the restaurant to the lunch buffet room where hungry customers mounded their plates with Indian culinary delights. Then entered an Indian man donning a tall white toque followed by the host. The chef began ladling something from the buffet table into a container as the host watched. The chef handed the man the container as they both laughed.

A minute later the man came out with a smile on his face and a bag that I hoped held a container of Korma.

“I completely over complicated this,” the man said with a smile. “I don’t know what I was thinking or why I made this so difficult.”

I laughed out loud. “It is soooo sweet of you to say that!”

“Here’s your Korma and it’s only four dollars, not thirty!” he said as he laughed and rolled his eyes. I put five dollars in a tip jar on the host stand.

_____________________________________________________________


Soul Sisters

“Her credentials are stellar and she’s super smart! She’s volunteered in hospice for years, which is rough stuff and at other facilities for the downtrodden. She is gentle but also tough! Her stepdaughter went to school with our cousin’s granddaughter so she is like family to us.” 

That makes you family? That’s a stretch, I was thinking. This guy is lucky I didn’t yet know I share a birthday with Dr. Christy. I would have been all over him about who is family.

“That’s wonderful,” I said trying not to be rude but nevertheless multitasking half listening to him while trying to get forms filled out the receptionist had given me, “yeah, I think she’s pretty amazing, too.”

“Well, that’s not all!” the old portly guy with a cane, swollen ankles and skin issues went on. “The first time I ever met her she put her stethoscope to my heart and went around once, went around twice but didn’t stop there which is normal operating procedure! I should know; I’ve had my share of heart issues! Twice around is when they stop!” I was still trying to get that damn paperwork done. “She went around a third time and by the fourth time around she was dialing a cardiologist and three days later I was in open heart surgery! That lady doc saved my life the first day I met her!!”

As I was just about to say he didn’t need to have the word lady in front of the word doc, Dr. Christy’s PA came out and said loudly, “Thompson!” The man’s wife jumped up while he started rocking in an attempt to achieve some momentum to hopefully get up off the couch.

Confused, I Iooked at the woman and said, “Is your name Thompson?”

“Tomlin,” she said.

I have noticed over the years that physician’s assistants are generally all business and take their jobs very seriously and Angel is no exception and she didn’t even bother addressing the confusion which she clearly noticed. “THOMPSON!!” is all she said, just louder this time and there were only three of us in the room. It made me chuckle.

I stood up. “Sorry,” I said to Tomlin, “I’ll be fast, I just need her to check a couple things.” I really wasn’t sorry and I didn’t intend on rushing the good doctor or myself. I was relieved to be away from that man so when Angel was done with the dreaded clothes-on weigh-in (NEVER wear boots!!) and my white coat syndrome blood pressure reading which is always traumatizing, I might be alone for a few minutes to finish that stupid paperwork.

I did finish it and in addition to the glamorous photo of Dr. Christy on her wedding day, (the only day in her life she ever wore make-up), I noticed a first place prize plaque she and her husband won in a sailing contest. Wow, I thought, not only is she a doctor, she’s a sailor who wins first prizes in contests, with her husband no less!! I cannot partner with my husband in anything competitive. It’s a complete disaster. I will play mixed doubles but he must be partnered with the wife of the other couple and I must be partnered with her husband.

Then I heard the file being taken out of that file holder thing on the outside of doctors examining rooms. Now, normally when you hear this sound you know you have 3 to 4 more minutes to un-sterilize tongue sticks and see what’s in all those drawers because most doctors do not review a patient’s chart until the 3 or 4 minutes before they enter the examination room. Dr. Christy on the other hand, reviews the charts of the people she is going to see that day in the morning. What a concept! So with her, I have to have my hands off those sticks and the drawers closed as soon as I hear the sound.

“Hello!” she said brightly as she entered the room before we even made eye contact.

“Hi!” I said, and we hugged a comfortable, real hug. “Your ears must be ringing,” I said, “that man out there is singing your praises!”

“Oh yeah,” she laughed, “he’s a geek that way.”

We sat down and that’s when I do the emoting and she does the typing, question asking and laughing. We have so much fun together. I got it all out and she asked me to sit on the examination table so she could check a few things. She walked over to me and I was jealous that she looked so thin, and I’m not fat. Jealously at my age of 56 when you are at least a partially evolved human being is nothing like jealous at 13, 27 or 36. At this age you are sincerely happy that your friend or doctor/friend is looking great, you just wish you looked as great. And you might; we are our own worst critics. Maybe the word isn’t even jealous.

As she approached to take my reflexes with that little stick with a rubber pointy thing that reminds me of a primitive tool, I brushed my hand on her stomach and I said, “God, you are so skinny!”

“Really?” She sort of squeaked, “no!”

“Yeah,” I said, “your stomach is so flat!”

“No it’s not! It’s these pants. They are too big for me so they make me look skinny.” She pulled the waistband of the pants to show me how big they were. “And, these scrunchy tops hide a multitude of sins.” She must have been getting what she wanted with the tomahawk because she gently smiled as my feet popped involuntarily toward her.

“Okay,” she said, “I’m going to give you a topical ointment for that little thing on your skin but that’s it. I’ll go get it for you now.” I followed her out of the room.

“No,” she said, “stay here, go back in there,” and she pointed to the exam room. She tries to avoid crowds at the PA’s desk because there are two other doctors and their PA’s in her offices. I saluted and dutifully returned to the exam room.

A minute of two later she burst into the room and excitedly exclaimed, “Now I know why I like you so much! We are soul sisters! I just saw your birthdate and we have the same birthday!!” She held her arms wide and we fell into a hug.

“That is so awesome,” I said, “we are both Scorpios and do you know how I found you?” She shook her head. I rolled my eyes around, held a finger in the air and twirled it around and then slammed my finger onto a framed photo on her wall to indicate how random it was.

“Don’t break my picture.” she said with a giggle.

“God, I can’t believe you and your husband won first place in the sailing contest,” I said.

“Yes,” she smiled proudly, “d’ya’ll sail?”

“No,” I said, “and we don’t say “ya’ll” either.”

“I do both!” she exclaimed.

We parted with a “love you”, “love you, too” and I headed down the hall at my normal determined pace to tackle the rest of my day.

“Andrea?” Dr. Christy called.

“Yeah?” I said.

“You are going the wrong way! The exit is this way.”

I did a 180 and I passed her as she took a chart off the wall of a door, made eye contact with me and said quietly, “Okay, in with Thomlin now.” I put my hand on her shoulder. “Good luck!” I whispered and then exited out the correct exit. ___________________________________________________________ *Reminder: My posts are based on true stories.  A few facts might not be completely accurate either because I couldn’t remember or I liked it better a slightly different way.  Names in most of my posts have been changed to protect the innocent.


I Miss My Saguaros!!!

The landscaping thing in Texas couldn’t be more opposite than it was in Scottsdale. Here you see grass, flowers and huge trees; things we rarely saw back home. I miss the desert landscape with its rocks and boulders, little slow growing trees, prickery shrubbery and my beloved majestic saguaros.

Saguaro Cactus in Fountain Hills, near Phoenix, Arizona.

My Texas landscaper Tim came over to fix some problems with the irrigation in the back yard. We have some very pretty vines with beautiful pink flowers on them. Most of them look stunning while one of them is hideous. I know perfectionism is a losing battle but I’m having a hard time letting go when it comes to my house and my yard.

“My landscapers in Scottsdale spent a lot time trying to convince me that landscaping is not an exact science but what’s wrong with that one vine, Tim?” I asked from a comfortable chair on my patio.

“Exact science….” Tim repeated under his breath and chuckled.

“It’s odd,” he went on, “the soil around this healthy one was very dry, and the soil around that ugly one was wet.” I didn’t say anything.

“I wonder if there is a leak in the water line somewhere,” he continued as he messed around in the mud. I still didn’t say anything.

“I could try putting some fertilizer on it and we could see if that does anything,” he said as he pulled some weeds from around the base of the vine. I was silent.

“It may not get the same kind of sun as the others,” he said. I still didn’t say anything.

He finally looked up at me and said, “These comments are my way of saying I don’t know.”

IMG_1031 IMG_1032


It’s Saturday Night Live!!!

I was young but I had to get out from under a man who hated me for my assertiveness and my fearlessness of him and my willingness to stand up to him. The minute I turned 16 I told my mother I had had it with my stepfather and I moved out.

Q. What do you do when you are on your own at 16?

A. Become a waitress and convince an apartment manager you are 18 and that you can handle the responsibility of renting.

Waitresses, especially when they are pretty, and I was, make a lot of money for a young person. I already had a jump on it because I had become a hostess at a restaurant when I turned 15, had my driver’s permit and had an old beat up Volkswagen. I’d proven my reliability and commitment so when it came time to start supporting myself I was able to convince the manager where I worked to promote me to waitress. Like the other nights, we would work hard, make our tips, clean up the restaurant but on Saturdays we would then congregate at someone’s apartment, smoke a joint and watch our beloved Saturday Night Live.

I just watched the 40 year reunion of Saturday Night Live the other night and I was close to tears. There are so many SNL actors who have died of diseases and overdoses and so many more who have gone on to be hugely successful in their acting and comedic careers. And I feel like I know them all. I’ve been watching for 40 years.

I feel like all the SNL people are my people. In the early days it was Gilda Radner, Garret Morris, Jane Curtain, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Laraine Newman, Dan Akroid, Bill Murray and others.

DExoLER C201009-Top-40-Arts-and-Culture-SNL-Second-City

I’ve watched the creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, a gorgeous young, creative man with shiny black hair transition to a gray haired gentry gentleman.

imagesimages

I’ve seen the show go from funky cheap rented studio space where you could barely hear what Candice Bergen was saying to evil toy maker Dan Akroid, to the best in the business at Rockefeller Center in NYC. Now a-days Tina Fey, Amy Poelher, Jason Sedekis and Seth Myers recently moved on.

article-2075711-0F37F14700000578-874_634x356 images

I hear Lorne cries every time a beloved cast member leaves. He’s an emotional guy and his guts are invested in his people and his show. He’s a tough cookie to be sure and there are a lot of casualties who make it one or two seasons and then are booted by him, but he loves the ones he loves. And I love him for creating SNL.


Labs, Cheetahs and Zoo Safety

Cheetahs can be skittish. Labrador Retrievers are not. Dallas is not the only zoo that has raised them together from kittenhood and puppyhood. The Cheetahs who are raised with dogs are used for educational purposes; going to schools and events to educate people about their plight and what they can do to help in the conservation effort of this gorgeous, endangered animal. An event of this kind might be held at a venue where the Cheetah and dog need to go up a flight of stairs or enter an elevator, for example. Either of those would freak the Cheetah out, but when he sees his dog brother happily comply, he gains the confidence to do it, too.

Windspear and Amani as babies.

Amani and Windspear as babies.

“Cheetahs are shy, so the dog instills confidence in him whenever they go to new places,” zoo official Sean Greene said. “Also, the dog has an outgoing personality and while the cheetah is reserved she likes that attention, so their relationship is very natural.”

Cheetahs can go from zero to 70 miles per hour in 3 seconds. They are the fastest of the land animals. I know that but I’m wondering why they say, “land animals.” Is there a sea creature that goes faster than that? I need to google that. The only thing Cheetahs eat is meat and when they make a kill they eat almost as fast as they run because inevitably a larger cat will smell the kill, run the Cheetah off and finish the meal. So, Cheetahs have to eat as much as they possibly can as quickly as they possibly can.

I’ve noticed that when Windspear and Amani play chase, Amani is by far the fastest dog I’ve ever seen in my life. Being raised with Windspear must have busted through his genetic inclinations and inborn perceived limitations about how fast a Labrador Retriever can run.

        Playing together

Playing together

At 2:30 four days a week, the zoo does a show called “Cheetah Encounter.” It is an opportunity for zoo guests to see how fast Windspear can run and also to see him playing with Amani and interacting with his keepers. I go often to see it. One day I saw a guy wearing a zoo employee uniform, which is only slightly different than the volunteer uniform I wear. Like me, he also wears a nametag, which I didn’t bother to look at because I couldn’t care less who’s who at the zoo. I walked over and introduced myself, he said his name was Kevin and we got talking; or should I say I got talking.

   Lovin' on each other

Lovin’ on each other

“I was surprised when I saw the keepers in with the Cheetah,” I said.

Kevin didn’t say anything.

“I spoke to one keeper and asked her if she felt safe.” I said. “She said she felt completely safe because they’ve raised the Cheetah since it was a tiny kitten. She also said that Cheetah’s do not consider humans prey.”

Kevin was quiet.

“I am not an expert on these things and I’m sure the keeper is and I know this is an accredited zoo and if this were a dangerous situation the Association of Zoos and Aquariums wouldn’t allow it but I don’t think I’d personally feel completely safe. I always think of Siegfried and Roy and that Tiger.”

While I was beginning to suspect Kevin was the strong, silent type, he saw me glance at his nametag. It said. Kevin Thomas, Director of Zoo Safety. We locked eyes and both burst out laughing.