The house on Field Street should have had a ticket booth, a turnstile, and a big sign that said Z-O-O. It wasn’t a real zoo with a curator and docents and exotic animals — it was the crazy kind of zoo you would never take your friends home to visit. It was almost like that Christmas song: six bratty kids, five mangy mutts, four spoiled cats, three psychotic rabbits, two white rats and a . . . but I should explain before I tell you about that last one.
Some days, life in the zoo was curiously comical. Once, when I was fourteen and learning to apply mascara, I was in the hall bathroom putting it on, wiping it off, and putting it on again trying not to look like a raccoon. Suddenly there was a terrible commotion in the front of the house. All five of my younger brothers and sisters were hollering amidst crashing and thumping and clattering. The basset hound started baying to the heavens, then our big sheepdog joined in the chorus. Pretty soon, the ruckus started heading toward me full-speed. I looked up from my glamour practice just in time to see our little white mutt racing past the bathroom door with a box turtle latched onto her nose. Then the sheepdog flew past rat-a-tat barking the alarm, followed by the clumsy black lab puppy my baby sister had brought home the day before. A couple of cats went sliding past followed by my twin brothers, Robby and Randy, who were only six and thought this was a great game.
There was a slight pause in the action and the weenie dog blurred past followed by the basset, my sisters Rachel and Rebecca and another cat. Rebecca, at five, was the baby and she was bawling her eyes out. She would come to the rescue of a spider if she thought you were going to squish it. Rachel just wanted to make sure no one touched any of her stuff. Finally, my other brother Rick loped past carrying a butterfly net. What was he thinking? Maybe he was reliving was one of his beloved cartoons. Bringing up the rear of the parade was my mom. I guess they got the turtle off the mutt’s nose. I never saw it again, but the mutt was always a little sullen after that.
My dad came in from his second job late that night, and said, “Anything happen today?”
I looked up from the TV, thought about it for a minute, shrugged and said, “Nope. Not really.” I mean, what do you say?
About my mom — this could take some explaining — she is crazy, and not in the good way. Oh, she’s fun when she’s not doing the scary crazy stuff, but she’s a real piece of work. When she ran past the door that day she waved. I stuck my head out in the hall and asked what was going on and she just hollered back, “I don’t know but isn’t this fun?”
She woke us all up at 3 a.m. one morning certain that we had overslept and needed to get ready for school. The real kicker was she was speaking Swedish … and she doesn’t even know Swedish. I think she was dreaming. We all stared at her for a few minutes, groaned and went back to sleep. A visitor to the zoo might be appalled, but we had never known life outside our bars. Years later, I sat across the table from my mom and tried to understand the anguish of her disease, but as a child, I just endured her antics.
One afternoon, in the fall of my senior year of high school, I trudged in after a long day of chemistry and trigonometry. I flung my backpack on the couch and headed for my bedroom to mope like all 17-year-old girls do. In spite of years of experiences, I was stunned when I opened my bedroom door and was met with a “baaaa-aaaa.” There was a goat on my bed. It wasn’t a very big goat, but it was a goat looking at me with my nightshirt dangling from his mouth.
I closed the bedroom door and stood for a minute. Shaking my head, I walked back through the living room and picked up my backpack. As I grasped the front doorknob, I turned to my mother who had just walked into the room and said, “Should I try this again, or is there something you want to tell me?”
“Oh. You mean the goat?” she replied as if this were a perfectly sane conversation.
“So, there really is a goat on my bed? He’s eating my pajamas. … You put a goat in my bedroom to eat my pajamas?” I blinked.
“Well, it’s like this… “ she started and I knew it was going to be good. “I was vacuuming and there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door, the goat was standing there and he walked right in. So, I put him in your bedroom.” And she smiled and began dusting the coffee table.
When I regained my ability to speak, I asked, “What do I do with the goat, Mom?”
“Whatever you like, but he seemed pretty intent on staying.”
Yep. I live in a zoo. Six bratty kids, five mangy mutts, four spoiled cats, three psychotic rabbits, two white rats, and a goat in the middle of my bed.
This is a story I wrote for a fiction writing class I just finished. Technically, it is fiction because I have "adjusted" some of the details for the sake of the story, but all of the events are 100% true. There really was a goat on my bed.