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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Zookeeper

Chris is 36, but looks no more than 28, with pink cheeks that couldn't be aged by a two-day stubble and grey eyes are prone to open wide with innocent surprise. After a couple of routine exchanges, he mentioned he worked as a zookeeper for 3 years after he dropped out of college.

"It was so much fun, it was great." He said fondly. "Giving tours to kids. Putting on shows. It was a party all the time."

"How was the pay?" His cruel boss, who constantly ordered him around for menial tasks, asked with a malicious grin.

"Aw, that's the thing," he ran a hand over his short sandy hair. "It paid hardly anything. All my coworkers either lived with four roommates or with their parents, or had a couple of other jobs. Nobody can live on the wage." 

"There's a price to pay for fun." I mused. "What was your favorite animal?"

"Pigs," he replied right away.

"Why?" I didn't expect the response.

"I don't know. They're just so ... smart, fun, and totally happy."

"So you enjoyed rolling around in the mud with them?"

"Yeah! Although they are kind of disgusting," he made a face. "They would eat anything."

"What animals didn't you like?" A colleague sitting next to me, a soft-spoken statistician with a Chinese accent with a round face, asked. We were all engrossed by the zoo stories and temporarily forgot our kebabs and roasted lamb and hummus.

"Monkeys. I thought I'd enjoy them, but it turned out to be the opposite."

"Why? Aren't they smart?"

Chris scratched his chin and reflected for a moment. "Well, yeah, they're smart all right. They are sort of like really evil and perverted humans."

"Are they that bad?" We all chuckled.

"Really. I can't even tell you the stuff they did ..." He shook his head. "Too disturbing."

"My grandfather had a monkey," the statistician said with deadpan seriousness. "He peed on me when I was four. It was totally intentional."

Chris slapped the table laughing. "Yeah, that sounds totally like the kind of things they would do. He was probably jealous of you."

"I'm sure of it," the statistician agreed.

"They can hold a grudge, too, and take it out later. Yuck." Chris said. 

"I guess it's more disturbing because they are so like us," I commented. "Do you miss it, the zoo?"

He shrugged. "I also like money ..."

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