Bit of an unusual day of work today. Which, at my workplace, is definitely saying something! However, any day you get to go to the zoo for a few hours and hang out in an office with a couple of cats certainly seems to qualify as "an unusual day." Unless, of course, you happen to work at the zoo in an office that has a couple of cats.
Today was the zoo's Bear Awareness Day. Now, I've already said on here that I think "ZooBoo" is an extraordinary event with an extraordinarily cheesy name, so in order to keep with that tradition I had christened today's excursion "BearAware." However, since I was going in character (as Winnie-the-Pooh, of course) to promote our upcoming show, I threw out the name "ZooPooh" first thing this morning, and it was decided that either ZooPooh or BearAware were acceptable monikers for the day's festivities.
I didn't bother telling anybody at the zoo this, though. Do you think I should have?
Originally, I was scheduled to be there all day, from 10 till about 2, but because I've been super-concerned about Kim and the new baby the past couple of days our wonderfully kindhearted P.R. people agreed to let me go around lunchtime. Which was a risky concession on their part, since we weren't sure exactly what our schedule was going to be until we got there, and I was the only talking bear on staff. But my family and I definitely appreciate the kindness, and thus it is now immortalized on a small personal blog that about six people read on any given day.
I only wish I could do more.
The vague notion we had going into the day was that we were going to have a table to distribute fliers and brochures (the zoo is good to us like that) and that at some point, Winnie-the-Pooh was going to come out and read a story to some kids. And Ta-Daa the Acting Bug (known to some as Shazam the Big Blue Dog) was going to be there, too, because the zoo loves Ta-Daa. The impression we had from that description was that the zoo was going to give us a book to read. Probably about bears. Hopefully even about Winnie-the-Pooh. Oddly, none of us really even questioned whether or not they had planned to provide the book. Our contact talked to their contact, and our contact turned around and told our PR office manager, who relayed what he'd said to Marty, who told us, so we sure thought we had a pretty solid idea of what was going on...
Well, you know how that always goes ;-)
Needless to say, we brought no book, and they had no book, just a couple of performance times. It was at this time that I was immensely glad that I had decided to go through and read Milne's Collected Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh immediately after being cast in the show. While Hannah and I were chased from one Chilling Out Spot to another ("Oh, sorry, we're going to use this room for a meeting. There's a room down the hall you could use for the next ten minutes or so...") I was running through the Hundred Acre Wood canon in my mind (while simultaneously making jokes about having Winnie-the-Pooh's good friend Kevin regale the children with ways to survive the Heffalump Apocalypse while TaDaa acted them out), trying to find short, simple stories that wouldn't involve a ton of action or characters. As we were carted across the crowded zoo sidewalks (Hi baby Baylor!), I settled upon the story of Pooh and Piglet tracking the Heffalumps through the snow. The kids stuck with me through the whole story, which is a major accomplishment when it's hot outside and there are lots of Things and Noises and Animals all around them. (Another reason I chose one of the shortest stories I could recall) Most of the parents seemed genuinely charmed. Which is good, because they have the money that could potentially be spent on the tickets to the show.
I never saw our PR table of literature, so I don't know how that end of things went. I went out and told my story a couple of times, TaDaa got a bunch of hugs, and OH! Between performances, they ended up stashing us back in the office at the rear of a building that housed a lot of bones, fossils, fur samples, and other creepy things. The office was nice and comfy, though, and there were two cats who were born as wild cats at the zoo and were brought in, loved, and domesticated, so they were the official office cats. They found lots of interesting things to sniff in my costume and the discarded TaDaa parts. (One of them even snuck into the TaDaa body bag while we were performing. THAT was a surprise to come back to!) Got the chance to remember that I do, in fact, like cats. Who knew???
So, a good morning at the zoo telling fun stories to antsy kids and charmed parents. And an afternoon at home doing everything in my power to make life easier on my lovely but fatigued wife. And a big ole' meatball sandwich from Jason's for dinner. And some dang fine television courtesy of Alabama vs. Arkansas and Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati in college football.
All in all, I'd call it a Very Good Day.