Every summer growing up, my father would load up the Ford Windstar mini-van and take my 3 siblings and me to southern California to see our grandparents. My ultra-conservative, Christian grandparents lived in a gated old person’s neighborhood where there were approximately a gazillion rules. They took special care to ensure that our schedule was jam-packed from the minute we arrived so we would not be around to disturb anyone. We lovingly referred to it as “The Village of the Damned.”
One day, they arranged for us all to go to the Wild Animal Park. Because we were in our early teens, none of us were well connected enough to score a bag of marijuana before this family adventure, so my siblings and I pretended to have diarrhea instead. My dad told us to stop acting like a-holes and get in the van. At the park, my grandparents bought us train tickets so we could get a close up view of all the animals. My eyes were glazing over from boredom, but through the shimmering heat waves arose from the earth a spectacular mirage…RHINOS HUMPING! OMG! My grandparents immediately averted their eyes and started talking about their new church, as if they would ever again be in this proximity to two enormous beasts making love. My sister and I started taking pictures as fast as we could.
Our next stop was the “Mystery Animal Show”. We shuffled in and sat on the bleachers. I was praying God would take mercy on me and let me have a heat stroke so I could leave on a stretcher. Just when I thought I could take not another minute, SHE appeared. “Well hello everybody, does anyone know what this is? Yep, that’s right, you guessed it! This is my beaver!” My brothers, sister and I immediately made eye contact.
This woman was passionate about her beaver, no doubt about it. I remember thinking to myself that every beaver truly deserved to be loved like this. She knew everything there was to know about her little guy. It had lots of fur that kept it nice and warm in the winter. It could stay underwater for up to 5 minutes at a time, chew on logs and was extremely active (she giggled and told us that sometimes it even kept her up at night). We also learned that her beaver had been hand raised and got along well with other beavers! I was positively captivated.
My grandparents were listening intently, ignoring us. My dad was giving us the death stare. He obviously was mad at himself for taking his 4 children to a beaver show with his parents. And, my siblings and I were positively out of control, tears pouring down our faces, unable to suppress our laughter. And, just when things could not possibly get any better, the woman with the beaver says “Would y’all like to come down here and give it a little pet before you go?” Best day EVER. XO