“I see animals are next in your little notebook?”
“When I was a kid, I loved going to the zoo.”
“Hurry up, finish your coffee, I will take you to Parc Zoologique de Paris, also known as the Vincennes Zoo. You will go mad! Since 2017 there has been also a place for nudists, but I presume you do not intend to get naked just yet. Besides, I happen to hate public displays of affection.”
She thought that was exciting. Most men did not mind claiming their lovers in front of other people. She thought that there must be something special about his secret displays of affection. She would have gladly learned what.
“I just read in the newspaper that this Christmas, a family of giraffes in the zoo will not spend the holidays by themselves. Their friends, the zebras and the ostriches, will return to the garden after its renovation. I can’t wait to see the garden – they display all kinds of exotic animals in it. There are lions yawning, and flamingos balancing on one of their legs, monkeys jumping, frogs colored in bright yellow, predators such as crocodiles, gracious lynxes. They are such strange and wonderful creatures!”
“He never seems to shut up!” thought Isabel. “He knows everything about everything, and that is so HOT!”
They approached the park, and while strolling, Isabel let herself lean on Ashton’s elbow for a minute, as if they were a real Parisian couple. He didn’t seem to mind.
“If you can keep any wildlife animal for a domestic pet, what would you have Isabel? You are an enchantress, so I bet you will easily tame a bat or an owl, or a dark raven?”
“Seriously? Do I look that ominous?”
“Yes, you are mean!”
“I would love to have one of those sweet little animals – the most friendly and devoted living beings in the deserts – the meerkat.
Their companionship looks really very kind. But the cutest animal on the face of the planet is definitely the slow loris.
In Dutch, the word “loris” means “clown, but these animals are found in Asia. I have heard that the slow lorises are a bit poisonous, but I still want one.”
“You, being a woman, know not what you want. Actually, meerkats are merciless predators. But I guess so are us, men! Meerkats, however, are known for their fierceness. The female meerkats kill their granddaughters and don’t allow their daughters to mate. They still make good pets, since they eat cockroaches.” And he gave her his lovely grin.
“Such a smile” – she thought to herself, and while her eyes were rolling, her attention was grabbed by the creature in front of her. “Look at this chimpanzee – it’s smiling to me!”
“Darling Isabel, it is not smiling. When the chimpanzee is frightened, it bares its teeth, so in fact he fears you…But so do men, don’t they, Isabel?”
“Men are afraid of me, yes,” she joked, and he looked to the side and smiled in his lovely way.
“Chimpanzees, as doctor Jane Goodall teaches us, are not just any animals but the ones closest to us humans. Each individual monkey has its own personality, and it is possible for the animal to die of grief, such a human emotion, Isabel!”
“There are only two things in the world that matter to animals, Ashton: eating and procreation.”
“Animals need touch, Isabel, just like we humans do. They have senses, just like we do. Animals, like humans, need love…”
As they passed by the trees full of small jumping squirrels, Isabel touched Ashton’s hand. He didn’t seem to mind.
“How about a small, jumping squirrel, Isabel?”
“Squirrels, I found them so fascinating in my childhood! They roam freely around the streets of Chicago. They are very brave and look at you straight in the eye, one meter away from you, they give the impression that they are going to jump at you, if you don’t move out of their way. They eat nuts and they are super animals! They are among the most intelligent beings on the planet. Probably as smart as the dolphins…”
“The dolphins have their own language, Isabel. When a fellow dolphin is in trouble, they gather for its salvation. Even us humans fail to do so on many occasions.”
“You are like a dolphin, Ash, you saved your fellow Isa from dying of boredom in Paris…after all, without you – here is such a jostle!”
Ashton smiled on the inside, but he ignored her flirtatious mood.
“I believe animals have souls, Isabel. To be a friend to an animal, you only have to love it. I have seen TV shows, in which humans embraced wild lions in the desert. We are connected to animals since we have roamed this Earth. Will you let me tell you about animal totems, Isabel?
They sat on a bench and she took out a small notepad and prepared to write.
“A long time ago Buddha summoned all the animals at the time when the Chinese New Year was celebrated. Only 12 of the animals were brave enough to honor the event and Buddha thanked them and gifted each of them a year in which to rule the world. Every person born in the said year was destined to have the character and basic qualities of the ruling animal. This is how the Chinese zodiac calendar came into being. When were you born, Isabel?”
“1982. I am ancient.”
“Then you are a dog. Moreover – you are a Water Dog. That means Isabel. You are benevolent and your life is smooth. You are virtuous, easy-going, and very responsible, but love easily controlls you, darling. Now (2018) is the year of the Earth Dog.”
“I am the Metal or the Gold monkey. I am always cheerful, and I promise you Isabel, you can’t help people if you are not in a good mood. Also, I am very smart…I can make lemonade from life’s lemons, I am talented, creative, and generous, and needless to say, I am so humble and modest!”
“Are we compatible?”
“I don’t know. Aren’t we?”
“I don’t believe in the Chinese zodiac.”
“Gemini and Leo are extremely compatible, Isabel.”
“However, can you delve more deeply in the symbolism of the animal world?”
“Animals, Isabel, have been worshipped as gods, associated with good luck, perceived as sources of divine power or wisdom. The dog embodies courage and loyalty. The kangaroo can only move forward, which explains why it is symbolic of progress and adorns the Australian coat of arms. The winged horse Pegasus, fast as the wind, represents the speed of thought. The elephant represents stability, strength, luck, and wisdom. In Hindu mythology, the monkey deity Hanuman was a great warrior. Of course, we have the three Mystic Monkeys, symbols of the “correct way.”
“Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil.”
“Yes, Isabel, animals surprise us, humans, the entire time. Do you believe in dragons, Isabel? Have you heard about the Thorny Dragon of the Australian desert?
It’s a kind of mini lizard, a gorgeous reptile. You will have a craze for it, Isabel, but you can’t have it as a pet, since it primarily feeds on black ants.”
“I love zoos, Ashton! They are full of beings, taller than us, smaller than us, faster than us, softer than us, and often braver, and kinder, and cuter, and more sensitive than we are.
A truly lovely garden! Did you choose a pet for yourself, Isabel? What shall I gift to you for your next birthday, Gemini woman?”
“I will take a mighty Leo.” – she teased him with his astrological Sun Sign. “I will tame a roaring lion and make a deep connection with my pet.”
“You can’t have me as a pet Isabel!”
“For a very good reason, darling… in order to have me as a pet, you ought to be slightly smarter than I am!”