There's always one true thing about any outing in Philly. A veracity that the large primate exhibit pounded home for me. You will never find, even in the vast reaches of the darkest, most inbred, nutritionally impeded, primordially uncivilized cultures of the world, people as hideously ugly as those from the very streets of this town. It's an elixir of anti-beauty that the town elders keep concealed in vats miles below the Liberty Bell, fed timely through the water supply to the next generation of procreators who dare mock God's divine plan of pulchritude.
Even Simone, after months of refuting my claims, had to reluctantly agree with me. We went to a screening of Satyricon downtown and were more horrified by the denizens hovering around the concession stand than the freakish participants of Fellini's paean to deformity and bacchanal.
Ghastly, disturbingly fat people. With ridiculous clothing and facial sores.
And Simone and I had spent time in Alabama.
At least in Crimson Tide country you are treated often to a desirable belle whom genetics did not mercilessly take an ugly stick to. Sure, they're as dumb as my lunch, but they don't make me want to lose it upon the sight of them. The south is full and guilty of many horrible things - terrible, senseless, nasty, idiotic, uncleanly, shockingly evil, stupid, tasteless, regressive, unfathomable things - but a lack of hot women surely isn't one of them.
But we need to be talking about apes. Simians that is.
Watching humans watch apes always peaks my "evolutionary" interests.
The beasts generally sit calmly and majestically, peering out at the crowd gathered beyond the railings or the bars of the cage; puzzled occasionally by a piercing sound or a particular dustup amongst the hairless, pale ones.
The humans, in turn, bray and chatter like idiots, play grab-ass, engulf their food, pick their nits and, quite ironically, behave in the exact manner we attribute to the monkeys.
And, of course, there is always that observable zoo behavior of the human beast on display.
Why do people feel the irrepressible need to state the painfully obvious when approaching any new exhibit?
"Look, a rhino!"
"That tortoise can barely move."
"They really do look soooo human at times."
"He's standing over there in the corner."
"They're eating their food."
"She's up in that tree."
"I'm a fucking idiot."
And, lest we forget, the omnipresent moron tapping on the glass or whistling to get a tired, bored or apathetic animal to pay attention to THEM, THEM, THEM.
Then there are the assholes who all of a sudden become intellectual combinations of Jane Goodall, Marlon Perkins, David Attenborough and John J. Fuckin' Audubon. There's not a species who ever crawled up the ass of another that they aren't newfound experts about. Their remarkable crash course in zoology is delivered loudly to all those who gather around their ersatz campfire of animal wisdom, willingly or not. This phenomenon typically begins with them reading off whatever placard is directly in front of them, adding a few "facts" and then smugly correcting some assertion that the zoo has put on the sign by espousing something entirely false. It goes something like this:
"You know kids, the Rodrigues Fruitbat is a nocturnal creature. That means it hunts and eats at night. It's also a mammal even though it flies. I ran into a few when we were vacationing in Barbados. A swarm of them flew right out of one of the caves. Our local guide pulled me aside and told me that his people actually call them 'the devils of the canyon'. Now, the people here at the zoo don't want you to know this part - the bats aren't really endangered. They just don't want them being harnessed for their natural radar, which can be used to discover oil deep within the cave walls where they live. We could ween ourselves off Middle East oil if the liberals would just drop the whole environmental sensitivity thing."
This brings me to a fascinating political aspect of zoo visitors. How do conservative republican families (particularly the hyper-religious ones) deal with some of the paradoxes they encounter while learning about evolution, preservation, climate change, the harm of over-hunting and over-fishing, war's deleterious effect on animal populations, man's ongoing destruction of environments and delicate ecosystems through greed and expansion and the fact that God is never mentioned once in the zoo's literature?
The zoo is a liberal, commie, fascist, secular sort of place.
I can't imagine what these theological goobers tell their children when confronted by the placards which baldly state that man and his misguided actions have caused the extinction or near extinction of many of these noble creatures.
"God's will, Timmy. Man has dominion over the beasts", probably doesn't cut it any longer for kids who aren't fucking home-schooled by their equally uneducated parents. Children always seem a bit more curious and concerned than adults when horrible things are happening to cute, cuddly, furry things.
But, as always with conservatives and slaves to the fear-god in the sky, there will be some cognitive dissonant answer to the quandary of why humans do what they do when what they do is abominable and maddeningly shortsighted and cruel.
Ah, screw it. We'll all get the answers when the rapture comes, right?