We cruise along the highway inside Sondra’s car. I’m in the passenger seat, Julie and Phyllis share the back. The sun brightens the Arizona desert with the kind of pristine morning light I don’t usually see since I’m often in bed at this hour.
We take an exit and circle the IHOP parking lot in search of Kathy. Suddenly we see her waving and smiling.
Our plan: we’ll all ride together in one car as we continue on our adventure.
The concern for space begins. Which car, Kathy’s or Sondra’s, has more room? We examine the backseats of Sondra’s and Kathy’s cars to gauge which has the bigger back seat for three people to ride in comfort. I have a claim on the front passenger seat and no one suggests I give it up. Remember everyone? It’s my birthday? Kathy, Sondra, Julie and Phyllis have sweet and generous natures. They let me keep the front seat. I’m prone to motion sickness and the thought of being in the back causes nausea. Thank goodness for my birthday and for caring friends.
We determine Kathy’s car has the larger backseat by one inch (or maybe one and a half) and pile into her car. We will not have breakfast at IHOP but at a quaint restaurant further away called The Farm.
When we reach The Farm, we roll along a paved road cut through a pecan orchard. The restaurant greets us at the road’s end, an outdoor dining venue overlooking gardens.
“Welcome,” the young waiter says and hands us menus. He tells us to help ourselves to the coffee and pick a table. With coffee in hand, we choose a large table on the edge of the patio with a lovely view of a weathered barn and rows of crops and marigolds. It’s a lovely morning for a birthday.
“Ooooh, it’s cold here,” someone says after we all settle in with coffee and menus. The restaurant provides a smattering of patio heaters, but we don’t feel the heat.”Let’s move toward the middle, it’ll be warmer there,” someone else suggests.
We pack up purses, coffee, menus and jostle to a new table.
“Ahhh, this is warmer.”
“It’s warmer but I think we need to move the patio heater closer to our table.”
Two volunteers from our party relocate the heater closer to us.
“Ahhh, that’s better.”
Just then, a middle-aged lady at a nearby table pushes her chair back, stands and huffs sarcastically, “Well! Thanks a lot!” Resembling a combination of Rosie O’Donnell and Roseanne, she dramatically picks up her breakfast plate, newspaper and purse, and blusters off. She blazes through the other tables like an angry cyclone.
Back in the car after breakfast, Kathy speaks to her phone, “Google, take us to the Phoenix Zoo.”
A female voice tells Kathy to go north. As the car turns northward, Kathy’s phone commands in an irritated tone, “Make a u-turn and go south.
“Wow, she has attitude,” Kathy says.
“You think she has attitude,” Phyllis says, “You should hear Siri on my phone. I can say something she doesn’t like and she’ll say ‘that wasn’t necessary.'”
Phyllis gives us a demo of Siri’s attitude problem.
“Siri, are you talking to me today? Siri? Are you talking?”
Siri replies with indignation, “No comment!”
Why do we have phones, I wonder, that give us lip? I want a phone that affirms me… “Oh Bronwyn, you are so beautiful today!” “Bronwyn, you are too special for words.”
Oh thank you imagined affirming phone, don’t stop now.
Once inside the zoo, I forget about angry diners and snippy phones as we trek to my birthday wish: that is, to visit the Giraffe Encounter. We climb a viewing stand and hand tasty, golf ball-sized pellets resembling compressed compost to the giraffes. Well, to only one giraffe named Migu. All the other giraffes linger far behind on a hill. They observe us warily as if they are thinking , “I’m in no mood to put up with humans today.”
“We can’t force them to come here to be fed,” a zoo employee explains.
At least we had Migu. He can’t get enough of the compost pellets.
Onward to the stingrays. As they glide by, we feel the tiny bumps on their slippery, slick skin. The stingrays have a particular affection and adoration for Phyllis. They snootily glide by me without acknowledging my presence. I have never felt slighted by stingrays before and it’s an odd…okay, hurtful feeling.
In the 4-D movie theater, we sport red plastic 3-D glasses. My seat vibrates as music plays and the movie begins. “Where’s the popcorn?” someone in our group says as a large eagle swoops in from the screen and sails toward us. With his talons dangerously close, he nabs a salmon while a sharp stick pokes us. Or is it a knife being forced through my chair and into my back? “Ow!” Oh yeah, 4-D. At the underwater portion of the movie, soap bubbles float inside the theater and water drops sprinkle on me. Or did someone spit on me? We exit holding our now aching backs.
The Monkey Village allows zoo guests inside the monkey’s cage full of tropical greenery and climbing ropes. “One of the monkeys stole my baby’s pacifier,” a lady warns us of the monkeys and their immoral tactics. I’m leery of the monkeys right off. I inquire of a zoo employee about the sign asking us to wash our hands as we leave. She says, “The monkeys like to mark their territory. So monkey urine is everywhere. Don’t touch anything.”
Oh! Nice to know. I had laid my jacket down to take a picture. Now I don’t want to touch my jacket. If it wasn’t my favorite jacket I would abandon it right then. Maybe it’s my imagination, but Kathy, Sondra, Julie and Phyllis seem to steer clear of me after this.
Before heading to the gift shop, we ride the Safari Train, an enjoyable narrated ride around the zoo. How much attitude or pain can I get on a harmless train ride? “AND THE FLAMINGOS ARE STANDING ON ONE LEG BECAUSE THEY ONLY HAVE ONE LEG,” the train driver hollers through overhead speakers. My head and ears throb from the noise level equal to an AC/DC concert. The driver continues her narrative at 50 decibels, “HAHA, THEY HAVE TWO LEGS BUT STAND ON ONE WHILE THEY SLEEP AND THEY ALTERNATE LEGS.”
At home now and I’m reminded that life is an adventure and part of the fun is not knowing how things will turn out. But if you have your fun girlfriends with you, it doesn’t matter if you get uppity attitude and hearing loss on your birthday. All that matters is that my jacket goes to the washing machine and that Jerry made dinner.