Cotton candy, elephant ears, and deep fried everything fills the air. The parking lot is packed, people are on foot, and children’s laughter is everywhere. It’s time for our local fair.
The Ferris Wheel and the Drop of Doom are already in sight from the parking lot. Clouds fill the sky, I’m hoping it doesn’t rain, and the wind is cool – a welcoming addition to what has been a warm and sweaty week.
My daughter looks forward to this day all year long. She loves the rides, the over-priced and under-awarding games, and everything we devour that will later become an painful stomach ache. I won’t pretend that I don’t like it too, because I love it. We always have a fantastic time, and it’s a great day to spend with the family.
This year our fair had something a little different than usual. They always have shows and performances that go on at different stage sets throughout the fairgrounds, but this year they were mixing it up. Last year they added a shark show, and this year they went a step further: lions, tigers, wolves, and a few other not-so-local wild life. I find wolves fascinating so I wanted to take a look them more than anything.
As we arrived the keeper was walking a zebra around the open pen in front of the crowd. The speakers boomed with a lady’s voice, educating the crowd on the stripes of this horse-like animal.
Next comes out the lion. Wow. Not that I haven’t ever seen a lion before – I’ve been to the zoo – but never one that did more than lay in the sun. The trainer had the lion climbing ladders and jumping from one platform to another. Naturally, this was amusing.
From what they told us, this lion was very small for it’s age, but standing on all four legs, it was higher than the man’s hip. To me, if the creature I’m “playing” with gets tired of the teasing and has the ability to tear my head from my body with a single swipe of it’s massive paw, there is nothing small about it. But I digress.
We must have missed the tiger show, because the tiger and a lioness were in a pen off to the side between the lions,and the camels. Sprawled out on it’s back and sleeping in the cool grass, we decided to take a closer look.
Now to paint you a picture, there were three octagonal cages set up. The wolves were on the right, and pushed back from the largest cage in the center. The lion occupied the center cage, and to the left, pushed back from the center, was the lioness and the tiger. In front of this was a long metal railing.We didn’t break the rules and get closer than we should, but we approached the metal railing to take a look.
Yeah, needless to say, I was ready to go. I usher the kids to start walking and I take a look back. The tiger stretches and looks at me – at least I think it’s looking at me – and before my heart can beat again, it’s on it’s feet and running towards us. I’m literally like “OMFG This thing can read minds! Run! Save yourselves…and the children.” And I turn, grabbing my kids hand and I start walking.
My heart is in my throat right now, adrenaline has set in, and fight or flight is in full force. Let’s be honest, I’m not going to fight a tiger. Maybe if I hadn’t just clipped my nails, but my talons were trimmed, I didn’t stand a chance. I wait for the inevitable jaws of force to crush me from behind, but they never came. I stop and turn…the tiger is still at the edge of his cage watching us. My heart rate spikes, then the tiger leans forward, picks up his ball, and begins to play fetch with himself.
I guess when you’re locked in a cage, you need to find ways to amuse yourself. This tiger just so happens to get a kick out of making full grown men want to curl into a ball and cry.