Tis the end.
At the Zoo
I come to the National Zoo as often as I can. I love to watch the elephants. There are haters, I know. Sitting here, I’ve heard it all, none particularly astonishing:
“Keeping animals in cages. It’s wrong.”
“They should be free.”
“That’s a nice set-up, but they should be allowed to roam free.”
Free. If only it were that easy.
I understand these comments are heart-felt, but people are so unaware of what’s happening to most creatures’ habitats. The poachers, the trophy hunters, not to mention the people seeking some magical essence from the animals to improve their luck, their sexual prowess, or whatever the theme du-jour is, and lastly, people just living, encroaching on once wild areas and finding themselves unable to cohabitate with other creatures.
A red-haired man is taking photos with a zoom lens. I watch as he homes in, snaps, lowers the camera, and studies. I wonder what he is thinking. He moves to different angles and repeats the formula. As if aware of my eyes on him, he turns, raises an eyebrow quizzically. I move my gaze to a pair of gray and white pigeons.
“You’re here a lot,” he says. His accent is foreign. Scottish?
His eyes are blue. Cerulean blue, and I find myself lost in them. After a moment, I realize what he’s said.
“I’ve never seen you before,” I say, feeling inane.
“You’re usually wrapped up in the elephants, which I can understand. They’re magnificent creatures. Loyal. Strong. Brave.”
“Have you ever felt complete empathy for a creature?”
He nods. “Many times.”
“That’s how I feel about the elephants. They’re remarkable,” I say, then shake my head. “But there are so many remarkable creatures that most people can’t be bothered to know or understand.”
He grins at me. “I think you and I understand each other very well. There’s a little Irish pub just a couple of blocks away. Can I treat you to lunch, a draught and maybe we can converse further about elephants?”
And, as pickup lines go, that is the best I’ve ever heard.
Sascha Darlington 4/30/2018