You see, we really needed to find a bathroom. My eldest child was, at the time, my brand new first and only child, and we were at the National Zoo with my mother, who had not yet been christened “Toy Grammy,” and so was still just “Grammy.” I don’t know how we got off of the main path, but we did not have a map, smart phones were not a thing, and we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by parked golf carts, large concrete walls, and a lot of signs saying “Employees Only.”
I’m not sure if I have mentioned any of my various life problems to you before, such as my ADD, my severe lack of spacial awareness, and my inability to find my way out of any bags made out of paper, but just so we’re clear, those things are all from my mother. And I only got half! She is like a concentrated dose of me, and when you put the two of us together, well, let’s just say there is no hope of anyone finding any restrooms anytime soon.
I have my infant daughter in a stroller. I do not want to be wandering around in a place that looks like the sort of compound where they keep polar bears and mind control experimentation rooms. I want to be back on the path with the colorful signs and friendly looking humans holding sno-cones. I strongly suggest to my mother that we abandon this path and turn around. But she is very stubborn.
She assures me that, since we are currently in what appears to be a restricted zoo-employee area, there must be bathrooms around here somewhere. Probably up those tall concrete steps. But at the top of the steps is a plexiglass gate that cautions us not to open it and go into whatever is beyond. That, of course, will not deter my mother, and to be honest I would have followed her, except that I was holding my daughter of only a few months, and was feeling less like a taking big risks. So through the gate she went, and back down the steps went Ruby and I.
Now feeling that we were all going to be caught and arrested at any moment, I decided to get out of there, walking around the edge of the building, reasoning that there might be zoo on the other side of it. I was correct. As I walked up a grassy hill alongside the concrete mega-wall, I was pleased to discover the path. The correct path, with people walking and talking and looking at the exhibits. In fact, several people were looking at one particular exhibit in the very building I had just come around the side of. I turned to see what was so interesting, and, though the plaque on the railing did not say “North American Toy Grammy,” there was my mother, wandering around the inside of the animal habitat.
She seemed to think this was very funny, and I seem to recall thinking that we were all going to be banned from the zoo for life, so I strongly encouraged her to get out of there. Luckily there were no animals currently in the exhibit, and whatever animals had been there before only required short, clear walls to contain them, so there were no bars or chasms blocking my mother from climbing out and rejoining us on the path. Now reunited, we were able to follow the signs to the normal zoo bathrooms, since there had surprisingly not been one located in the groundhog cage, or whatever it was she had stumbled into.
So I just want to say that, though you may read stories about me doing crazy things and making no sense and getting into trouble, I really can’t help it. It’s genetic. And my only regret is spending those precious few moments trying to drag her out of the exhibit, instead of taking pictures.