Friday, June 24, 2011

Nurse the Hate: The Petting Zoo Story

When I was a kid, I went to the Zoo with my grandparents and mother. I was little, probably about four or five. I never seemed to go to the Zoo unless my grandparents were around. As I reflect back to that time now, I realize that the main reason for that was to find some activity to do while also simultaneously keeping the grandparents out of the gin bottle until at least five. My grandfather was kind of an old school blowhard. I think my father had warned my mother that he would lose it if old Grandpa went on a four martini bender and analyzed all the ways my father was coming up short as a man. I was one of the ground troops in the war for relative sobriety at dinnertime. That led to walking miles and miles at the zoo. It's a perfect day for two elderly people and a pre-school kid. Good times.

I remember one time I was taken to the petting zoo where vindictive looking goats and disinterested looking sheep wandered around a smelly gravel pen. I was walked though a gate, and then my grandfather walked me over to the gumball style machine that spat out little food pellets into a cone. The idea was that kids like me would have a fun and educational time bonding with the animals while feeding them. What actually happened was I was swarmed by angry goats that were as tall as I was, each one nipping me trying to get more of the pellets. It was scary. These goats knew the score. Bully the kids, take the food, and move on until the next victim came through the gate.

You would think my grandfather, grandmother, and mother would have been concerned seeing a young boy overwhelmed by angry goats. This is not the way the Miller family worked, and I was left to survive as best I could with whatever hand fate dealt me. It's every man for himself in the Millers. I vividly recall looking into the eye of one of those nasty ass goats as he repeatedly rammed me with his horns in the shoulders, shoving me backwards with the force. Thinking quickly, I dropped all the pellets on the ground with the idea of running for the exit. It looked like I would have a chance until a few of the goats realized they were going to be left out of the banquet I had dropped, and zeroed in on me either out of hunger or just plain spite. I was getting smacked around on all sides as my grandparents and mother roared in laughter.

To put it in perspective, this would be like if you got caught by the bulls in Pomplona or the Plaza de toros en Madrid. Sure, now I could teach that goat a valuable lesson, but as a spindly little four year old, I was outmatched. Those things were heavier than I was, and coming from all sides. The laughter from my caring family wasn't much for the old morale either. That's when my grandfather bought more food pellets, and reached over the fence to hand them to me back in what had become The Octagon. The madness ratcheted up another notch or two, and I tried to fall back to the gate, dropping pellets in front of the angriest of the goats. It was my childhood Waterloo. It was a retreat filled with shame. I eventually got out, bruised head to toe.


At June 26, 2011 at 4:19:00 PM EDT , Blogger Cannon said...

Look around your town for the mexican food joint with the emphasis on authenticity and freshness. They often have goat on the menu. Your revenge could be as sweet as that goat meat in you fajitas. Nothing quite like bein' on the top of the food chain!

At June 28, 2011 at 9:58:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

I have had goat at a Puerto Rican restaurant in town. Satisfying meal. Very satisfying.


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