2007-04-05: The Petting Zoo

Starring:

Heidi_icon.gif Eliana_icon.gif

Summary: Heidi takes the kids to the petting zoo to see the baby cow, despite the fact that there are much cooler animals in the Bronx Zoo. There, she has a chat with a girl named Eliana.

Date It Happened: 5 APRIL

The Petting Zoo


The Bronx Zoo

It's getting warmer now, and, coincidentally, it's a wonderful day to go to the zoo. There aren't too many people out yet because it's not quite warm - still jacket weather, honestly - but the animals are active, and that's all that matters.

Of course, Simon and Monty didn't want to see the lions and tigers and bears. Or the colourful birds, or the giraffes, or the reptiles, or the wolves, or the pandas, elephants, jaguars, or even the prairie dogs. No, they wanted to see the /COWS, MOM!/ Because apparently there's been a little cow born in the vicinity of the petting zoo, and it's all they've been talking about since Heidi offered to take them if they were good in the plane on the flight home. And so, here they are.

Heidi herself leans back on the fence, watching carefully over her sons, who are listening intently to one of the zookeepers who's explaining proper etiquette for playing with the animals. No hands in the face, no sudden movements, no this, no that— "And have fun," Heidi idly adds onto the end, even though she's not in hearing range.

Wandering around inside of the paddock are goats, little sheep, a duck or two, and that little baby cow, who's only out for a little while at a time, since it still needs to be with its mother. Honestly, te mother of two would rather be on the /other side/ of the fence, but with her kids in here, she might need to intervene, so— playing with the animals it is!

—-

Most of the older people in the petting zoo are attached to children, but thankfully, Eliana doesn't look so old that her singleness seems creepy or odd. She leans against one of the fence posts, idly chewing a bit of bubblegum as she watches the animals mill about. The eagerness of the boys to see the calf brings a smile to her face, and even though she's a city girl herself, she can't help but comment on it.

"Exotic is so relative," the pink-haired woman remarks. In a light jacket, t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, Eliana looks like she could be college, or just out. Maybe.

—-

There are probably a handful of other kids around, too, and a handful of keepers to… well, /keep up/ with them all. That's their job, after all, isn't it? Some of them are picking up animal poo so the kids don't step in it. Another is explaining to little Monty why the goats have horns. And then why the goats have caps on their horns, and then why there aren't lions in the petting zoo— It's a pretty endless stream of questions.

Heidi, being fairly conservative, has to take pause when she notes that she's being spoken to by a woman with pink hair. Well, conservative or not, she can also take weird things in stride. (She did marry Nathan, after all.) So she shrugs. "They wanted to see the cow," she states, nodding to the two boys who are paying absolutely no attention to the cow, and are trying to catch a duck instead.

—-

Childhood wonderment is something that Eliana will never stop smiling at. She looks to Heidi when she's answered, and that smile only grows. "It was parrots for me," she says with a shrug, watching the boys chase the duck. "But I think if you go north enough, you might be able a place that will sell you one of those." Wouldn't that make this Uptown Lady happy.

—-

Hey, Heidi started in a small town! It wasn't all dinner parties and political appearances (or non-appearances, as was the case with her) since she was little. Having a duck around might be fun, but Nathan would kill her, the hired help would kill her, and then she'd have to disappoint the boys by selling the duck. Bad plan. "…I think we'll come to the zoo when they want to play with the animals," she says with a chuckle. Maybe she can get them a dog. A little one, like a chihuahua or a pomeranian. No ducks, though. Gesturing to the other kids, she asks, "Any of these yours?" The woman looks young, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have a child.

—-

Eliana shakes her head with another smile. "Nope," she answers casually. "But I think that it's a horrible misconception that you have to be a kid to enjoy a zoo, whether you're looking at wild animals or tame ones. Don't you?"

—-

"Yeah. I do." Heidi can't help agreeing, because she's trying to think of where it's written down that adults have to have a reason to do something fun if they don't have kids. The boys love this place, but Heidi could have come on her own if she wanted, now that she's not dependant on someone else to wheel her around. After a moment of pause, figuring it'll be nice to have someone to talk to while the kids are playing, she says, "I'm Heidi. The boys are Simon and Monty."

—-

"It's nice to meet you," Eliana says as she extends a hand. "I'm Eli." She leans back against the pole after the greeting is over and looks once again to the boys. "Spunky things. I think… I think that if I ever had kids, I'd want boys. Are they easier?" Eliana is no where near having children, and besides that, her left hand is bare. It's just something to talk about.

—-

After shaking Eli's hand, Heidi leans back agains the fence. "Yeah, they're pretty active. Pretty well-behaved, I'd have to say. At least, I don't have much trouble with them when I tell the to sit down and do their schoolwork." Pausing, she checks to make sure they're still following the rules with a glance to one of the keepers. "Wouldn't know. Never had any girls, and I was an only child. I kind of raise them how my parets raised me. Except, you know, with fewer dolls and more G.I. Joes and Tonka Trucks."

—-

"What would you do if they asked for a doll?" Eliana asks, the journalist in her perking up. She might just want to spark a new sort of conversation, or maybe she's recognized Heidi as the former congressman's wife. If she has, she doesn't show it. Eli's tone is just as casual as it was before.

—-

"Well, as not-adverse as I am to letting the kids live their own lives, I think my husband wouldn't approve." She's not sure about dolls, either, and might have to quirk a brow or something if Simon suddenly decided he wanted to play with girl toys. "Thankfully, I haven't had to worry about anything like that just yet. They seem more than content to pretend to blow up the playroom with their army toys." Pause. "—Navy toys." Daddy was in the Navy. So the army isn't as cool.

—-

Eliana arches an eyebrow. "They make Navy toys?" Like, that aren't for the bathtub? Eliana doesn't have children, so this must be the reason why she doesn't know about these things. "Who'd have thunk it."

—-

"Well, no, not that I know of." Heidi laughs a little, smiling. "But their dad was in the Navy, and they love him. Want to be just like him. You know— So they play 'Navy' instead of 'Army.'" It's cute. Even if the G.I. Joes are wearing army green and have army rank on their shoulders, they're in the Navy, really! "They're good kids," she adds on unnecessarily, since it's pretty obvious that she adores them. Any parent would. "So, day off work, or are you stay-at-home like me?"

—-

"Afternoon off," Eliana clarifies. "I got to be the lucky one let off early for a slow morning." She has doubts that a woman like Heidi would ever grace the door of a bohemian cafe, so she doesn't name it. "Rent's paid for this month, so I'm not complaining much." Besides, it will give her time to write up another song for Ja-…for Jane.

—-

Just because she lives in a mansion doesn't mean she doesn't go into the city once in awhile, sit in a Starbucks just for the heck of it, play with the animals in a petting zoo when her sons want her to. In fact, she's wearing jeans at the moment, even if her shoes are a little too nice for her to be standing in mud and dirt. Actually, she's not sure what her 'type' is, since she's lived on both sides of the proverbial class fence. "So you came to the zoo." Obvious. "Some day I need to bring a camera with me, make a scrap book for the kids or something. I don't know, just something they have when they get older, to remember." Things are getting so much more complicated lately… The thought wipes the smile from Heidi's face.

—-

Eliana squints a bit, and that inner-reporter snaps to attention again. Or maybe it's the writer-in-general in her. Something is amiss, but Eli can't put her finger on it. "That'd be really nice of you. I'm sure they'd appreciate it." Even if they don't /until/ their older. "Good memories are the ones everyone should focus on." And like Heidi, Eli's own smile fades. Why doesn't she take her own advice?

—-

It's kind of odd, talking to a total stranger about what's bothering her. Correction - Eliana isn't a /total/ stranger, is she? They've spoken for a good few minutes now. What gets her is the statement that good memories should be the ones everyone should focus on. "That's true, but not always easy. You know, when I was little, I used to look at, say— Oh. Squirrels. Or birds. And I used to think, their lives aren't very complicated, are they? So wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to worry about what dress I was going to wear to school? Then I realised that if I was a squirrel, I wouldn't have pretty dresses at all." The smile returns. "That doesn't sound too material, I hope. I'm — well, it was just a thought." So they sacrifice a lack of complication for pretty things. "Hard to focus on the good when everything else kind of pops up to surprise you. Its not for lack of trying, though. Trust me."

—-

Eliana tilts her head back as she listens, filing away the images and metaphors in that mental filing cabinet. "You could argue a squirrel doesn't remember much, though. For very long, at least. I mean, not like us. And then there's the whole emotion factor. I mean, I'm sure that little calf doesn't /love/ its mother. It's just reliant on her right now, and she has the instinct to protect it in turn. I don't know if I'd want to trade in humanity for simplicity." Pontificating eases the pain. It abstracts it. Why can't there be French salon's and opium dens anymore?

—-

"Yeah, trust me, I wouldn't trade this for that." She shrugs, as if she's discarding the conversation entirely — at least the complicated part of it. "Kind of silly anyway. Still, I remember thinking about it." Idly, she raises her hand to check her watch, and decides to give the kids a few more minutes with the animals. They seem to be having fun, but Heidi still wants to walk around a bit before the zoo closes. "Eh, I'm just talking. Had a lot to think about recently, sorry for grabbing your ear there."

—-

Heidi turns to face Eliana now, crossing her arms, eyes narrowed a little in thought. What's supposed to be getting better, she wonders! Nathan just wanted her out of town to protect her, Peter backed up the story almost word-for-word, it's just that she feels something's missing, and she's always been a fairly perceptive girl. Questioning things isn't her nature, though, especially when it comes to keeping her family together, and happy. She doesn't buy it all, though, that's the thing. "They will. It just takes time. It was nice talking to you." And she definitely means that, because it's great to be able to speak with someone outside her family. "Simon, Monty, we're going to go see the tigers, c'mon!"

—-

Eliana watches the family go with a smile, and after a few more minutes of watching the simple farm animals and the children captivated by the simple wonder, she too wanders away. Thoughts spin in her head, and those that can be given more poetic expression are snatched like birds by the wing.

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