My Panda, My Self
By Ann Brown
I was listening to NPR recently, to learn a few facts that I could insert into conversation should I ever be court-ordered to go outside my house and socialize with people.
I am always on the lookout for conversation topics, as – despite my propencity for long, drawn out essays on myself and my feelings and my personal history and my odd skin conditions me me me me me – I often find myself at a loss for words in real life situations. After “Hi, nice to see you”, I start praying for a small deus ex machina to end the scene. An earthquake, a knife fight, a dinner bell being rung, whatev. Honestly, I don’t really get what people actually talk about in real life. To me, in social situations, it’s pretty much just reciting my funny stories and then waiting for an earthquake.
I don’t go to a lot of parties.
But I like to be prepared in case I am forced to attend one. Which is why I listen to NPR as much as I can to keep at the ready a topical or amusing or politically provocative conversation starter.
This week, I got much more than that.
Baby Bao Bao – the panda at the National Zoo – is now ready to meet the public. This in of iteself was troublesome news to me as I began to wonder what I would say if I had the opportunity to chat with BB. I don’t know a lot about pandas but I don’t think my story about when I sang Jewish folk songs at the State Maximum Security Prison in Tracy, California – a story that is riveting in liberal Jewish circles – would be a hit with Bao Bao. Plus, Bao Bao is just a baby and my story includes some rough shit.
But after listening to the whole Panda story on NPR, I am totally ready to meet any Panda. Anywhere. Anytime. Because I learned from that story that I am a panda. Ich bin eine Panda.
Pandas eat fourteen hours a day. Yeah, well that one is a no-brainer. Check.
Pandas do not hibernate but they appear sleepy. Ask anyone. I always appear sleepy. I yawn constantly. I even once swallowed a fruit fly because I was yawning when I opened the top of the compost bucket.
Pandas don’t kill for food and they don’t eat meat. Well, I can say that so far, I have not killed for food, although I was pretty darn angry that time a large family dressed in their after-church clothes came into New Seasons Market one Sunday morning and bought the last of the Kung Pao tofu. I didn’t not kill them. But I gave the little girl a very witheringly cold look that, I am pretty sure, conveyed my displeasure. And I don’t eat meat. Unless you count chicken and brisket as meat. Oh, and turkey burgers. But I am enormously conflicted about it. As I suspect some closeted Chinese Chicken Salad eating Pandas are, as well. We should start a support group.
Pandas do not like other pandas. Their interaction with eachother is primarily unfriendly. Check. Ask pretty much anyone who has ever tried to get me on the phone. And the nice people at the dog park totally see me pretend to not to see them waving to me as I hurry Phila down the path away from them. I know they think I am stuck up because I don’t go over there and hang out with them. I heard there was a party last summer and everyone from the dog park was invited. I know this because they invited Robin. And Phila.
The female Panda goes into estrus and accepts sexual intercourse ONCE a year. I was going to ask Robin to comment on this one but I’m afraid if I bring up the subject of sex, he will get all horny and want to have some with me. And we already had sex in 2014.
But wait. There’s more!
After her once-a-year estrus, the female Panda appears to be pregnant. It is impossible to know if she really is until a baby is – or is not – born. Although I am no longer asked when my baby is due – I have finally reached that sweet stage of life where my old age clearly precludes anyone thinking I might be pregnant – I have to say that, in terms of comfort and movability, nothing beats the maternity jeans I bought in 1981 at Mervyn’s. Thank God I bought seven pairs back then.
And finally, this:
Pandas cost a lot. You have to spend a lot of money to have them, but they make a lot of money, too. Very true for me, too. What I spend on depilatories and Emergen-C alone exceeds the GNP of some small countries. But, I also make a lot of– oh wait. No I don’t. Shit.
Ich nisht bin eine Panda, I guess.
Oh well. Hopefully, it will still make a semi-interesting bit of socializing smalltalk. You know, how after listening to NPR I realized I am not a Panda. Sweet. I’ve got my conversation topic taken care of for this year. AND I’ve had sex.
See you in 2015.