Grandpa and RG Visit the Zoo. Chapter 4: Gecko, No Geico.
December 12, 2008
At the far end of the Zoomazium is a large stage with a very large video screen at the back of the stage. It was silently showing snippets of featured events and occurrences at the zoo as well as previews of events to come in the Zoomazium that day. Most of the snippets seemed to feature baby animals, some born at the zoo in the last week or two.
Although RG gets to watch a little television these days, she is still fairly innocent in regard to this medium. She left the blocks area and wandered over to stand in front of the stage and watch the television show with a few other small children gazing raptly at the moving images.
As I said, the film was silent. Subtitles explained the significance of the images. RG can read a few words, but I don’t think she is quite ready for brief movie subtitles. I walked over and stood next to her as she watched. Most of the snippets involved baby animals, which may account for her later questions about sex education.
Glancing at the subtitles, I said, “There is going to be a Toddler story time about animals at 11 am,” I said to RG. “That will be in 15 minutes. Do you want to stay for it?”
I was a little uneasy about the “toddler” label and I thought that she might be insulted or dismissive at the idea of being included in such a target audience, but she told me she wanted to attend.
At the appointed time, two young men (of about 30 years of age) appeared on the stage. One was the storyteller; the other was his assistant. The assistant bore a large assortment of puppets. The storyteller announced the event and invited children to come up to the stage area. Several hundred children rushed to the area in front of the stage.
Although young, the storyteller was skilled in the art of telling a story to young children. Using puppets, he began telling the story of a gecko lizard searching for something to eat. [This gecko apparently lived in a state of innocence and had not yet learned to sell auto insurance for a company named Geico as a way to make a living.]
He explained how the gecko used its tongue to snare flies and other flying insects, a disgusting approach to meals that delighted the children. The story-teller explained how gecko searched through the jungle for insects to consume and enacted several such events with the puppets.
Unfortunately, the gecko encountered a lot of competition and all the possible meals ended in disappointment as creature after creature snatched a revolting treat away just as the gecko was about to snare it. Just as he was going to grab a mosquito for example, a frog’s tongue grabbed the delightful snack before the gecko’s tongue could wrap around it. The poor gecko was facing starvation. I was quite worried about the gecko.
Then things got worse. The gecko encountered a snake. The snake decided the gecko would be a splendid meal. The snake bit off the gecko’s head. Fortunately, the gecko’s tail looked just like its head. “Ha ha, I fooled you!” the gecko exulted as it wandered off to grow a new tail. This seemed as if it might be a good strategy for survival. My wife often snaps at me for some little misdeed such as forgetting to turn off a light or put some food back in the refrigerator. I haven’t quite figured out how to apply the gecko’s tail strategy to my married life, but there must be a way to pull it off. (Or bite if off as the case may be.)
At that point the story teller revealed that he actually had a real gecko on the premises. He told the children they would each have an opportunity to pet the gecko, and invited them to line up for their turn. RG politely got in line behind about 50 other children (out of a line that extended into hundreds of children) and patiently awaited her turn. The gecko (I presume well paid in flies and other insects) stoically endured each child’s attention, much as Sylvie, my daughter’s loveable little cat, endures RG’s attention. RG patiently waited in line until her turn where she chatted intelligently with the story teller about geckos and petted the gecko in a friendly manner.