It’s a Jungle Out There

Today, I decided to take a trip out to Dublin Zoo. It’s not something every tourist gets to see, for whatever reason – lack of time, lack of interest, distance to the suburbs, etc. But, since I had both time and some interest, I thought it would be fun to explore. Plus, the website made it sound exciting. Did you know:

  • In 1833 the entrance lodge to the Zoo was built for £30.00!
  • During the Easter Rising of 1916 getting out of Phoenix Park became difficult and meat ran out. In order to keep the lions and tigers alive, some of the other animals in the zoo were killed!
  • During World War II, coal was hard to come by so older trees were cut down and used to heat the tropical houses!

It was a cold day. It hailed little BB-sized pellets on me a couple of times during my journey out to the zoo. So, I was not surprised that there were very few people there. (Also, according to the saleswoman at Arnott’s department store, Irish people don’t like the idea of caging up animals and many have never visited their zoo, hoping this will close it down. Actually, though, the Dublin Zoo, like most, has become a centre “for conservation, education and study to help stem the tide of extinction.” Apparently, human encroachment has threatened to do worse to the animals than put them in cages.)

There could be another reason there were not many people at the zoo. It really wasn’t that great. The gift shop was closed (“Please excuse our mess, we’re remodeling”) and the restaurant served heat-lamp pizza and monkey shaped fish sticks. Many of the animals were in cages or behind fences and that took away from the idea of seeing them in their natural habitats. But, still the day wasn’t a total loss as the animals themselves are interesting to observe.

The thing that makes animals animals is their uncivilized nature. At least that’s the distinction my dad always made with us. As children, he used to say, we were closest to our animal state and needed civilizing. And it’s true, I think. Which brings me to something I would like to say. In civilized and polite society one should say something when placed in a situation where someone’s future embarrassment could be alleviated by our tactfully making them aware of whatever the issue so they can salvage at least some of their pride (no zoo-related pun intended).

Where exactly am I going with all this, you ask? Well, let me first finish telling you about my afternoon. Like I said, it was pretty cold outside so, after an hour of walking around the zoo, I was ready to get inside and have some hot chocolate and lunch. Walking toward the zoo, I had seen a Tea Room that looked like just the place, so I headed there. After warming up with the hot chocolate and filling up on a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, I was too comfortable to go back out in the cold. So, I decided to have a big piece of chocolate cake for dessert and read another chapter in my book, Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”

Finally, it was time to head back to the apartment. I got up and kindly took my dishes to the counter. I got a surprised “thank you” from the girl who had been serving me earlier and was on my way. As I ambled back towards the Luas (light rail train) that would take me back into Dublin, I did the slight head nod and barely audible “hello’s” that one does with passers by once eye contact has been made.

On the Luas, I had an idea that it would be interesting to find a pawn shop and see what kinds of things the Irish hock. Don’t ask me why. But, what do they call a shop like that here – still a pawn shop? I turned to the young fella next to me and asked him about it. He was very nice and told me that it was called a pawn shop and where to find one and inquired about where I was from, how long had I been in Dublin, etc. It was a very nice conversation (all about me). Finally, I reached my stop, squeezed by a few people to get off and went over to the mall. Always time for a little shopping, you know!

It was around this time that I vainly glanced in one of those mirrors on the columns you can find inside any department store. And thank heavens I did or who knows how many more people would have had to uncomfortably figure out where they were going to set there eyes when talking with me or attempt to deduce if it was (a) an unfortunate birthmark, (b) caked on mud or (c) chocolate cake that was the cause of the black lump on my nose! “It’s ‘C’, people!” I felt like yelling. Except not really because that would have drawn way too much attention to me and I’m not sure my now fragile self-esteem could have handled it. How the chocolate cake got all over my nose in the first place, I swear, I’ll never know. I think I would remember wiping cake all over my face, but, alas, no. I was using a fork like a civilized person, I promise, and not jamming my facing into the cake like a child or a dog, i.e. like an animal!

Could not one person, just one person, have given me a “Go like this” with the accompanying hand gesture that shows one how and where exactly to wipe? At the very least give me the “wipe the tip of your nose” gesture itself!! I mean, I’d been talking with people forever, by now. I had a conversation for like 15 minutes with that guy on the train with no indication from him whatsoever that something was amiss!

I was reliving the whole thing, with this new information, in my head over and over between those sudden turret-like outbursts one makes in such situations (come on, you know what I’m talking about, when you are thinking about something and suddenly you realize you’re in public and you may have just said that out loud). The longer I thought about it, the more certain I was that this was all the server’s fault. She had seen me when I came into the Tea Room. She knew it wasn’t (a) an unfortunate birthmark or (b) caked on mud, as my face was clean as a whistle (Irish Spring) when I came in. She certainly should have been able to deduce that it was (c) chocolate cake since before she served me cake, it wasn’t on my nose and when I bussed my own table for her IT WAS! (Okay, perhaps you’re blaming me because I didn’t run into the bathroom before leaving the Tea Room; Just so you know, there was no mirror in there, so I, conveniently, absolve myself of any and all blame.)

In a civilized world you tell someone something like that before you let them walk down the street with chocolate cake smeared across their face (me) or their skirt tucked up under their backpack (Suzanne), you know? When you’re out in public and someone’s got a booger hanging out of their nose, you pull them aside and throw out “hey, bat in the cave”. It’s funny, you can both laugh through the awkwardness and then it’s no big deal. But nooooo, no one civilized was watching out for me today. I thought I had left the animals behind at the Dublin Zoo, but apparently not.

7 Responses to “It’s a Jungle Out There”

  1. Sylvana Says:

    “bat in the cave”- that’s funny! I say “Tarzan” as in you have one swinging, but I like bat in the cave maybe even better.
    I always have trouble telling people that they have to check themselves especially if I want to talk to them, because as soon as I tell them they just want to slink away from embarrassment.

  2. JoyLuck Says:

    Yes, true. And there is always the chance that they could say, “Tarzan? I don’t get it.” or “It’s a birthmark, I can’t get rid of it.” or “I’m not pregnant.” etc. There is that small chance that you might be risking some embarassment of your own and you’ll be the one who wants to slink away!

    Btw, “Tarzan” – me likey.

  3. Mie VidEre Says:

    You have been watching too many Seinfeld reruns – but they are funny…

  4. JoyLuck Says:

    An astute observation, I would say.

  5. Mie VidEre Says:

    … and interesting.

  6. Mie VidEre Says:

    The polite way:

    In nasus acticis frustrum magnum chociae habes.

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