January 2, 2003
I spent a pleasant New Year's Eve at the zoo. They were open late for holiday fun. There were clever light displays, and a festive horn was included in the price of admission. The idea, as I understood it, was for us to make the animals understand somehow that it was New Year's Eve and to get them excited about a fresh start, a clean slate, a new year. The catch, though, which went carefully unmentioned by the ticket-takers, was that most of the animals were clearly accustomed to going to sleep around 5, when the zoo normally closes. Tigers, lions and armadilloes alike took what appeared to be very enjoyable naps. The only animals who really brought the noise were the penguins, who splashed, dived, turned their heads in strange directions and fell over with all of their customary magnificence. Some special mention has to go to the sea lions, though, all but one of whom boycotted the soft-rock laser light show going on above their tank by hiding well out of sight for the entire night.
There was some concern from my date that I might lose my shit when it was discovered that the great apes house was closed for construction and all of the chimps, gorillas, baboons and orangutans were off at another zoo until 2004. I did not lose my shit, which is not to say that I was entirely calm about it, and I chose to imagine all of the monkeys on a cruise together. The smaller primates were still present, fortunately, and most of them gave duly sleepy glances at the revellers while dangling from branches.
The rabbi for whom I work is grimly obsessed with including disdainful remarks about the arbitrary nature of the Gregorian calendar. Last year, he harassed everyone who wished him a Happy New Year with 'hilarious' harangues and historical background on the subject. I think he was disappointed that everyone wised up and didn't say anything to him about it this year, so he sought people out, wished them a Happy New Year and then, whether they acknowledged him or not, harangued them for regarding it as a new year. No one else in the office really knows what he and I do here, as he is more or less renting the space, so they kind of button their lips and take the 'delight' until he is done. I tried to catch him in the act whenever possible so I could tell him to knock it off, but he is a slippery bastard.
On another note, long-time readers will know that I am committed to providing around-the-clock coverage of usage of the term 'slut' in Shakespeare's plays. Let me then refer you to Act 3, Scene 3 of As You Like It, one of his better comedies, and the following exchange:
Well, I am not fair; and therefore I pray the gods make me honest.
Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut were to put good meat into an unclean dish.
I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.
Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness may come hereafter.
('Foul' in this context means 'without make-up or adornment; as nature made me'.)
Today's amateur psychology poll question: is sluttishness a product of nature or nurture? What would B.F. Skinner say? If this question were to be somehow cross-referenced with the Stanford Prison Experiment, would the result be the greatest prison / education / porn movie ever filmed? (Speculate as to its ranking in a top ten list of the other great prison / education / porn movies of our times.)