After we had thoroughly assessed each other, Scamper and The Zookeeper developed an understanding of sorts. Each of us knew that we could either be formidable allies or the bane of each other’s existence.
The Zookeeper seemed pleased.
We remained cautious.
We’ve been wooed before and we’re not that easily impressed.
That was when he lured us in.
“May I invite you to afternoon tea?”, he asked, as slick as a snake.
Let’s just be honest. You can invite us to high tea anytime, any day and it’s a safe bet that we’ll be there with bells on. We love a tea party.
With that, he crooked his arm like a gentlemanly escort and guided us into the inner sanctum.
One glance at Fabulous told us that he was in on this whole elaborate production.
Ordinarily, someone would have been in for a serious tongue lashing but since the two of these characters went so far out of their way to please us, the chastisement could be put on hold.
The Zookeeper actually has a tea parlor. He loves high tea too. It was decorated down to the finest detail from the vaulted ceiling to the checkerboard carpet which we actually thought was tile. It was an Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter tea party come to life.
He led us through the exquisite main dining room.
And then into the tea room
Minerva disappeared briefly and when she returned, she was followed by two staff members who presented this.
Oh, we knew the Zookeeper was good at first sight but this was too much. He was about to out scamp the Scamper and we didn’t like it.
Not one bit.
The setting was perfection. The presentation was flawless and the guy even had the chef put caviar on the egg salad sandwich.
All that, plus a couple of glasses of champagne and we were ready to cry uncle.
The Zookeeper had won.
At the very moment we were about to admit to having been bested, The Zookeeper stunned us again.
He was laughing at one of our little quips, which by the way, never fail to amuse and out of nowhere, came a most ghastly sound. The table and the chairs appeared to vibrate and then an abashed Zookeeper accidentally passed gas from both ends simultaneously and we inadvertently shouted out with glee,”Now, it’s perfect!”
We laughed heartily. Fabulous laughed as well.
The Zookeeper tried to give us a look but couldn’t quite pull it off. He laughed too.
Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, he asked if we’d like to see the zoo.
“Just a cotton pickin’ minute here Mr. This is Sagaponack, you can’t have a zoo here! What are you talking about?”
“I can and I do, my dear. On occasion, arrangements can be made, as I’m sure you know. ”
As we contemplated our next move… slap him or hug him. Minerva saved the day.
“Come on Scamper. You’re gonna love this. Each one of the animals represents one of the models he works with. He doesn’t like to admit it but it makes the zoo visit so much better when you know.”
Yep, on that note we were all in.
As we ambled over to the zoo, The Keeper opened up.
“You know, Scamper, I spend so much time creating the facade of beauty on a bunch of creatures, most of whom lack any inner beauty, that at one point I began to feel like a fraud.
I was providing an image that was unrealistic and unattainable without the tricks of the trade and the result was that women felt bad about themselves.
I paid it no mind at first because let’s be real, money is money and Papa loves the pesos.”
Yeah, we rolled our eye balls at that one too. Thank God for our sunglass disguise.
“I needed to balance it out with something good. I considered it for a while and I decided that I would create a zoo for rescued animals. I invite the local schools to visit a couple of times per year and I guide the tours myself. No one knows it but I pick each animal based on one of the models that gives me trouble. Now I feel much better about everything. ”
We turned towards Minerva, who averted our eyes and shook her head, ever so subtly. Hmm, we thought, The Zookeeper inspires loyalty too.
After a several minute walk amongst the pristine grounds, we came upon the zoo.
The first creature we met was CeCe the sugar glider.
” CeCe the model is a real pain in the padded patoot but this little beauty is a delight.”
Zookeeper even understands what constitutes a delight. He’s a special one.
“Real CeCe likes to travel around the globe whenever the spirit moves her. She’s pulled the flake out move on me for a couple of big jobs. The image of her being confined in one spot provides me with tremendous satisfaction. Plus, CeCe the sugar glider is a joy. I let her fly around the house sometimes.”
We raised a brow.
As if he had read our mind, the Zookeeper said, “Oh, no. Don’t worry. There’s always a minder to clean up any mishaps.”
We moved along.
“This is my brown bear. I’ve named her Bernie. Bernadette is one of my more difficult models. She’s always late and she’s always edgy. She’s one of the most beautiful women in the world but she’s got a permanent chip on her shoulder. Bernie, on the other hand, will melt your heart. She hibernates in the winter and she eats all summer. All it takes is a happy meal and she’s in bear paradise. If only the girls were so easy. Try to throw one of those bitches a snack, if you dare. They’re all hungry but they’d rather bite you than a piece of food. They are afraid of getting fat.
Thank God I was born gay. If I weren’t, those boney things would have turned me.”
And once again, we thought… that Zookeeper is a keeper indeed.
At that moment, a creature brushed by our leg and we let out a blood curdling scream.
“Oh, Mynx. You Manx. Don’t scare Scamper. We like her.”
Ok. We were not good with the talking to the cat like a human but the sentiment was a winner. Also, Mynx the Manx was exceptionally beautiful.
“Mynx doesn’t represent any of the models. Mynx was the nutritionist who looked after the models’ skin. Those were the good old days. Never a blemish in sight. She just had a baby though so now I’m stuck in pimple city. Try to cover up a pre-menstrual blemish on one of these 17 yr olds sometime. It’s not easy my friends. Every once in a while, you nick one. We won’t even discuss that.”
And with that remark, we all shuttered.
Again, we moved along.
“These are my sloths. I don’t really bother to name them. They all respond to Hey, You. I love them all but they’re interchangeable. Their human counterparts greet the models and the clients but they rarely last long. I picked the sloths because like the girls, they are as lazy as can be. At least these little fellas are cute. Isn’t that right?”, he cooed at them and threw them a snack. We could swear that one of them waved him off as if to say, yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it when I get a chance. It’s nap time now.
There were only two more exhibits. The peacock who was constantly spreading his tail feathers, yet would only mate under a bridge. (the Zookeeper is working on a breeding program) and the Tasmanian Devil.
The Tasmanian Devil was clearly the Keeper’s favorite.
“This, my friends is The Cleric. Perhaps the meanest model I’ve ever worked with is the daughter of a preacher. I have no clue what went down in that household and I don’t care. She can tell it to her shrink. That thing has flipped out on at least eight of my best clients but she does great work. Rather than letting her go, I found the Devil. Lucy the Devil is great. Lucy would be short for Lucifer, of course. She is a devil after all.”
Yeah, we could get along with the Keeper, for sure.
“Whenever she has a hissy fit she twists and swirls in a frenzied dance. Then I give her a snack and everything goes back to normal. It’s so much fun to watch.”
Shortly thereafter, our visit ended. We reboarded Raja with Fabulous after saying our goodbyes. It had turned out to be a wonderful day. Fabulous would escape the dreaded pinch with a twist once again and we’ve scheduled an eclipse viewing date with The Zookeeper. We still don’t know his real first name but that’s okay. We’ll get it. Until then we will call him The Keeper. We continue to contend that Zooey is a stupid name.