I grew up in Oregon and going to the Oregon Zoo in Portland was a common school field trip. Wanting to share the experience with my sons (Asa age 28 and Jake age 20), I made reservations for us to go. Yes, reservations. In this age of Covid, it is required to reserve a day and time for your visit, so they don’t get too many people there at once. We were driving from Washington state for a vacation, so I decided that we would go to the zoo when we got into town and then head to our hotel afterwards.
We got there early, which was good because the parking lot was absolutely full. I drove around and around, up and down the aisles trying to find a place to park – as did many other cars. I would get excited seeing someone walking to their car, thinking they were leaving, only to be disappointed to discover they had only forgotten their jacket. After about 10 minutes, we FINALLY found a parking spot and was the winner between several other drivers, after some honking, exclamations, and hand gestures.
The Oregon Zoo is beautiful – its pathways take you down through areas surrounded by trees and other greenery, rocks, logs, and even little waterways. The animals are kept in places similar to their natural habitats – and since we were there on a cool day, we were able to see most of the animals out and about. As we walked, Asa would exclaim now and then, “I want to see the giraffes.”
We got super hungry after awhile and found a burger and chicken strip place for lunch. The food was expensive and not that great, but it was nice to sit down and eat. As we got up to go, Asa said, “I want to see the giraffes.” The zoo does not give out paper maps so I really did not know where the giraffes were, or even if there were giraffes. So we wandered off in search of the giraffes. In doing so, we ended up going back to places we had already gone to, not sure if we were going the right way. Jake was getting tired and grouchy on our search for giraffes, because he really could care less.
FINALLY, we see the giraffes! Thank goodness, I sighed. It was feeding time, so there was a crowd of people watching and listening to the zoo person talk about the giraffes, so we could not get very close. I told Asa to go forward where there was a little break, but he wouldn’t do it. After a few minutes, I decided that we should move along since Jake was getting more grouchy and Asa was not willing to get closer since there were so many people there.
We wandered up the trail and ended up back near the entrance to the zoo. Jake was really ready to go and he told me loudly and obnoxiously that we should be done. I said we could go into the gift shop to find a souvenir, but then Asa stopped and said, “But I wanted to see the giraffes! You know, like closer! I didn’t get to REALLY see them! And we missed the monkeys entirely. I want to see the monkeys!” Sigh…..
I contemplated sending Jake out to the car to wait for us, but then realized he would never be able to find it on his own. I told Asa, that he could go back and see the giraffes and the monkeys while I was in the gift shop, but he had to come right back because Jake and I are tired and we have to get to the hotel to check in before meeting a friend for dinner. He assured me, he would be right back.
Jake and I went into the gift shop and looked at mugs, and shirts, and keychains, and plushies. They were all very expensive of course. I tried to get him interested in a few items that didn’t cost that much, but he just couldn’t concentrate because he was tired, and was starting to rant. So we stepped out of the shop and I told him to go sit down on some rocks along the pathway, and I would join him once I bought a couple of souvenirs.
After shopping, I sat down on the rock beside him and gave him a necklace that had a geode rock as a pendant. He thought it was cool. I was aghast when he yanked the pendant off the necklace, put the rock in his pocket and handed the necklace back to me. Great.
We waited for Asa. And we waited and waited and waited. Asa is notorious for being slow, so it was not that surprising to me, but it was rather irritating after my specific instructions to go see the giraffes and monkeys and come back. We needed to get checked into our hotel and go meet a friend for dinner.
After half an hour or so, Asa came ambling up the path. Jake yelled, “Finally!! Now we can go!”
I asked Asa why he was gone so long and if he was able to see the giraffes and monkeys. He told me he did see them, and went into detail about specific monkeys – and said that he also looked at other exhibits and went back to one he had wanted to see more closely – and then he decided to go into the bug museum and then …..
I sighed, and then told him that I got him a souvenir. I pulled out a glass that had a picture of giraffes on it and handed it to him. He looked it over, handed it back, and said, “I don’t want it.”
I said, “But all you could talk about today was how much you wanted to see the giraffes, so I figured you would enjoy having this glass – because it has giraffes on it!” I was exasperated!
“I don’t want it.” he said. “I want to go into the gift shop and pick out my own souvenir. You both got to go in and I didn’t get to.”
I stood up abruptly and said, “No. You chose to go see the giraffes and monkeys – and everything else along the way. You took a really long time and we have places to go, so no, you don’t get to pick something out. You can have this glass or nothing. Come on, let’s go.”
We left and got stuck in rush-hour traffic, but made it to the hotel in time to get checked in and then go meet our friend for dinner. We never talked about the souvenir again.
I now have a lovely giraffe glass in my cupboard. I contemplate giving it away because in all honesty I don’t really like giraffes. Yet I keep it. I keep it so that Asa will see it and remember his trip to the zoo – and how he got to see the giraffes and the monkeys and the bugs ……. Thank God he didn’t want to see the cockroaches the whole time we were there.