When you live in Orlando, Florida, certain things become almost expected. Seeing the fireworks from Universal movies, and having dinner at CityWalk, a day trip to one of the Disney parks and popping over to SeaWorld for some splashy fun is not unusual.
Some time ago, we heard from our friends Trudy and Arieh. They were coming to America; they live on a kibbutz in Israel. They asked if they could come visit us. They were flying into Las Vegas and asked if they could rent a car and drive to Orlando.
We told them they could, but that it’d be quite a drive. Apparently, they did not truly understand just how big America was. Once they did, they elected to fly. We met them at the airport and took them home, and showed them around Orlando. They went to Disney, Gatorland and so forth.
They also taught us something of their culture, even a card game they enjoyed. Our daughter loved every minute. She has always been interested in learning about other people, other ways of life, and other games!
Then came the day we all went to SeaWorld. Naturally, we wanted to show they all the shows and strange and exotic animals. We saw the “Clyde & Seamore” show and “Pets Ahoy”; both were a lot of fun. Most of the rides were, well, off limits to us, a bit too rough. We did go on the Sky Tower so they could see the incredible view.
Then came the big one, the one we’d been saving for last: the killer whale show at the Shamu Stadium. We ambled along the boardwalk that crisscrossed the lake, and then made our way down the wide sidewalk that wrapped around to the stadium. Suddenly, there came a shout of surprise from one of them; my back was turned, so I wasn’t sure who had cried out. I turned and saw that they were pointing at something on the ground.
It was a squirrel.
I was, to put it mildly, surprised at their surprise. After all, it was only a squirrel. Yet, they were getting out their camera and camcorder; squirrels were unknown in Israel, so this was quite a treat for them, and the squirrel was cooperating beautifully. That made sense; the wild animals of SeaWorld, that is, the squirrels, birds and so forth, were not at all wild. Over the years, they’d become quite tame, and learned just how sweet a life they had there, so long as they “played nice” with the guests. Plenty of fine food could be had, if they posed for pictures and weren’t too aggressive.
This squirrel knew the drill. He stood still, allowed them to get their shots, and then waited as Trudy and my wife dug into their bags to find some snacks for him. Yeah, we knew the rule: don’t feed the animals! We figured we could ignore it this one time. Besides, he was cute as a button. It was quite the new take on an old theme park for my wife and me. It gave us an appreciation for the simple things in life.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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