This whole we-have-a-kid thing can feel very special and First Man on the Moon-ish until, like today, you make a spontaneous decision to go a special family-friendly Halloween event at the local zoo, turn on to Grand Avenue and realize that 4,999 other very special astronauts had the same idea.
There are cops directing traffic.
There are nearby residential neighborhoods so packed with cars, that you can barely toss a Slim Jim down the street without nicking a side mirror.
Meanwhile, there are mini princesses and tiny Scooby Doos hiking in from miles away.
"The ... hell?" you might whistle under your breath.
I've never said this sentence: "Oh, The Great Archivist and Geo Girl? They live over there by the zoo!" Still, we ended up parked on their street.
The place was lousy with kids: pirates, super heroes, brown bears, Monster High Dolls and lions.
"There's nothing funnier than a visibly angry child in a butterfly costume," Chuck observed.
Some dude in front of us lost his mind because he had purchased advance tickets, but his sister didn't so now he had to stand in line anyway when he actually could have just slept in an hour later. He punctuated his discontent with sulks and snarls and eventually his friend, who'd only called him over to offer him a line jump, shuffled his feet and responded:
"I'd like you to meet my grandmother and my mother-in-law."
We got in quickly and made for the white skunk before hitting up the monkeys, bears, tigers, etc. We wrangled a cranky puppy who didn't want to sit in her stroller but did want to sit on the path and try to liberate the stones that are embedded in the asphalt. Her shoe fell off like eight times.
Random thought: It's cool for the parents to dress up, but that guy with the scythe kind of seemed like he was at the wrong Halloween party.
Another random thought: Are suckers still dangerous, or did they lose that stigma after kids stopped running and playing?
It's weird to look around at all these people and realize that we never knew this scene existed. It's like a sci-fi movie where a door opens to a parallel universe that has always been there and always will. Old us probably heard the words "Boo at the Zoo" at some point, but could have never guessed that it required a guy in a beret repeating to drivers again and again: "There's no parking ahead; It's just for drop offs. There's no parking ahead; It's just for drop offs. There's no ..."
Old us would still be in bed, I told Chuck. Old us would have blasted way past a single Rusty Nail on Friday night and closed down the evening with an cashed bottle of Drambuie. New us were up at 8:15 a.m. New us had family breakfast, though one of us just gorged herself on hashbrowns and whipped scrambled eggs to the four corners of the room. New us keeps getting our minds blown by this parallel universe.
Anyway, we performed a pretty half-assed tour of the zoo before plopping down in damp grass to feed our kid a Macaroni & Cheese Eggroll. I distracted her with animal crackers so I could have the second-to-last bite.
"Actually I amend that," Chuck said, eating his Southwest Chicken Eggroll. "There is something funnier. A visibly angry adult dressed as a Whoopie Cushion."