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Thursday, March 18, 1999
By Paul Ford
Sea Lions in the park. What do my words mean here? I use the word pinnepedal. Why? Oh, God.
This weekend I saw some California Sea Lions in Brooklyn; they look like dogs and swim with pinnepedinal grace, angel-feet thrusting their torpedo bodies around in endless circles in an open-air tank.
I'd been feeling tired, so I forced myself out of the apartment. For something different, I turned right, further into Brooklyn, instead of left towards Manhattan. This put me over on Atlantic, then Flatbush, and suddenly I was at Prospect Park, at Grand Army Plaza, which the Brooklyn Public Library abuts.
On the third floor of the library I sat down with the first book to leap out from the shelves, The Films of Burt Reynolds. The book, with a four-paragraph forward by a cash-desperate Orson Welles, was a bevy of Burt, bare-chested, moustachioed, hirsute, speaking into a CB radio with "The Frog", Sally Field, at his side. It was pleasing to read something that awful and unredeeming, and I followed it with Cut Away Views of Star Wars Vehicles and What is Is, What it Was: the Poster Art of the Blaxploitation Era.
I left the library in better spirits, and took another left. This time I found the sea lions, at the Prospect Park Wildlife Center, my attention grabbed by their splashing and barking. Cute women in practical park-ranger outfits threw fish from buckets, which were snapped out of the air. The sea lions patted the women on the back, fetched a red ball, and did high dives. A feeder announced over a microphone, "the sea lions are particularly vocal during mating season," and a man to my left said of her, "I bet she's vocal during mating season, too."
I went on to eye some tiny monkeys through a glass; they were Cotton-headed Mardachibs or something like that, small enough to sit on an outstretched palm. One of them looked back from its perch, its head jittering, black eyes staring out. Right as I was feeling a connection with this particular monkey, 20 five-year-olds appeared and pressed their eyes, noses, and tongues against the glass, screaming about the baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, so I moved on to the baboons, ugly animals with red-apple asses and scary maws.
One of the Sea Lion women came up to me, brown-haired, suddenly. "Hi," she said. "You seem like a strapping fellow. Could you help me with these herring buckets?"
As she led me to a back room, I couldn't help but notice her tumescent rump through her khakis, an ass that had tossed its share of herring. I noticed it especially when those khakis slid to the floor. She turned around, ripping open her blue work shirt, and said say "take me, here in the monkey annex."
Well, no, but it was nice to think about. I left, and began a long walk along the edge of the park towards the Dtrain, and my legs began to feel tired from all that walking.