34. Practice Your Animal Calls
One benefit to the zoo’s depressing display of punked ass animals is the opportunity it provides you to practice your animal calls. Much like how foreign kids1 have to T.A. classes in their native language in order to afford American college, these indentured animals have no choice but to help you learn how to correctly roll your growls, how to select the best glottal stop for accurate quacks, and how to stop making slit-eyes when talking like a Panda.2 And it is an opportunity you can ill-afford to pass up.
What other chance do you have to sucker, cajole, seduce, or beckon such diametric and diverse creatures as the owl and the ocelot? The otter and the echidna? The naked mole rat and the business casual mole rat? [INSERT/DRAWING: “The Business Casual Mole Rat” [a mole rat wearing a v-neck sweater over collar shirt and tie, shirtcuffs visible from under sweater sleeve, and a belt (no pants?)]] The pig and the kitten? The polar bear and the regular bear? The katydid and the susywouldn’t? The macaw and the lyculkin? [INSERT/DRAWING: “The Lyculkin” [a kind of mudkipper with front fins flush on the face, Home Alone surprise style?]] The beige-throated whisper fish and the common jerkfly? The pasty-eyed swamp wombat and the archtailed beluga finch– the only bird qualified by Michelin to be a sommelier at a three-star restaurant? The paradox shark and the cat o’ nine teeth?3 The common ape and the common APE? [INSERT/DRAWING: “The Common APE [a chart of some kind; colored lines are involved]] The origami fin duck and the french cuffed service lummox? The saltwater taffybass and the austro-malaysian pogo horse? [INSERT/DRAWING: “The Austro-Malaysian Pogo Horse” [a picture of a kangaroo]] The ibex and the ibid, the egret and the epithet, the etcetera and the E.T.C.?4 Fish, and plankton; and sea greens; and protein from the sea? A poor disoriented kingly beast with the butt of a lion and the cock of a man in a zookeeper’s outfit?5 Penguins! And river otter and stream otters? They don’t sound that different, but the stream otter is (a) actually a kind of ferret, (b) able to live in any stream– be it brook or creek, blood or urine, jet or -ing video, and (c) is actually made out of dreams.6 [INSERT/DRAWING: “The Stream Otter” [a cross-section of a coaxial cable with tiny trucks, otters, pornographic couples, dollar signs, and comment section comments]]
Some Animal Calls, Then:
[Each animal name is atop a picture (likely of that animal), then the body of text]
Neither a House Cat, nor a Big Cat, the Ocelot is a tricky call to master. Only by utilizing all five of our senses8 can we even come close to capturing the intricacies of its ferocious mewl.
First: pretend you are small. Like, population-wise– like you grew up small compared to your peers and you’ve always resented it. But then, at the same time, pretend that you are bigger than some other group of peers, because in this scenario you have two peer groups. Maybe one is school and the other summer camp, or one is church and one is state. Or one is your Gold Friends and one is your Silver Friends. This is called Method Acting, and it is the process by which the best and most accomplished Animal Call artists learn how to master the ocelot.
After you have placed yourself in this scenario, try and remember a time you were really angry about something in your life. It shouldn’t be hard; you are likely a very angry person who has experienced many, many failures in your life– most of which were almost entirely your fault!9 Now focus on that moment. It may help at first if you place your arms in front of you and try to clench your veins. Try to slowly, softly roll your arms in towards your body while you tighten your teeth, snapping capillaries to try to contain this aggravation– trying to become it and Place it in the context of your pitiful smallness.
Place it in the context of your inability to fit; find it in your inability to satisfy, your inability to integrate or ingratiate or insinuate yourself into a circle of actual friends– to have anybody actually like you as default, as ‘when there is no context or nothing to gain,’ your inability to do that.
Place it there and let out an impotent scream. Let out your pipsqueak’s attempt to blot out the heavens, your cuckold’s moment the air goes stale when, finally, after five hours sitting in it, still stained by the blood of your now cold betrayers, the murder-suicide alarm clock goes off and it’s time to complete the Remington Room Service you’ve, as of yet, left only two-thirds of the way finished.
Did you hear it? Congratulations– you’ve executed one of the most difficult calls in the animal kingdom and are well on your way to mastering the ocelot! Now on to Step Three: living your life in such a way as to maximize horrific memories in order to keep your tank overflowing with ocelot fodder comma tears!/.
[SIDEBAR: “How to Make New Friends, Keep The Old, and Rank Them Accordingly”
While ostensibly a children’s paean to the pleasures of inclusion and learning basic social skills, the beloved preschool staple, Make New Friends:
Make new friends / but keep the o-old;
One is silver / and the o-ther gold
also provides an excellent blueprint for efficiently categorizing, ranking, and valuing your friendships.10
Gold friends are by definition the most valuable friends money can buy.11 This means that not only do they excel at being a friend, but that they also are of a higher mettle than your other friends. More attractive, more popular, effortlessly charming, and, above all else, better than you, Gold Friends are to be treasured, envied, and worn around the neck to the envy of others.
- All secrets kept
- Paramours go unstolen and ex-paramours go un-dated-afterward for at least 3 months
- Hot X friends to date, Cool Y friends to hang with12
- They smell amazing!
While not as valuable as Gold, Silver friends are nothing to shake a stick at.13 They’re reliably satisfying company, loyal enough, and generally pleasant to look at. Sure, the envy potential is low– save for by the most pathetic of loners– but how do you think they feel about you? If no-frills, high quality Silver friends are the staple of your stable then you are way ahead of the game. Except, you know, the people with all the Gold friends. They passed you miles ago.
- Most secrets kept (80% plus)
- Paramours go unstolen except in cases of extreme unction (a bishop anointing oils on your junk cannot exorcise the desire); ex-paramours go un-dated-afterward for a ‘week, probably,’ or, if serious, a week for every 6 months they dated, and you both officially ‘didn’t want them to find out this way’ when you eventually grapevine the news
- Definitely do-able X friends, Y friends aren’t pricks/bitches
- B+ hygiene MINIMUM
Not every friend can be a winner. And not all of those non-winner friends can place– the podium isn’t big enough for that. Sometimes you just need to be around someone who really makes you ‘pop’. And what compliments your meager endowments better than bronze?14 Sure. They might dress poorly (for 1996),15 and if you invite them to a party they will– at best– bland everyone to tears. Hygienewise they smell like chicken soup mix and have the bouillon-tinted teeth to prove it. But every friendship soup needs its toothy broth, and every party its party tofu.16 And if you don’t keep a couple of these ol’ reliables around who will gauge how poorly you are doing at life against?17
- Secrets only told to other, better, Silver and Gold friends
- When secrets told, a good faith effort made not to mock friend or belittle friendship
- Unless it is absolutely necessary to make a Gold friend like them better
- Paramours are cheated with only if: ‘awfully cute < x < ok, I guess’18
- Ex-Paramours, while dated early and often, are not the subject of hero stories while Bronze friend is in the room
- Unless the story is exceptionally impressive/filthy/funny/degrading
- X friends are conveniently indiscernible from Y friends, making them that much easier not to plow.
Sure, you think you’ve got it– you think you know how. “Hoot hoot,” you say, to your friend, in the wilderness at night.19 “Hoot hoot,” you say, trying to trick mice into thinking you are that most majestic of nocturnal, barn-dwelling predators,20 thus rendering them unimaginably tense in your presence.21 “Hoot hoot”– easy, right? Wrong. WRONG. You couldn’t be more incorrect.22
The owl is by far one of the hardest animal calls to master, even before you take into account the fact that owls are rarely in an exhibit at a zoo and therefore a dubious addition to this increasingly tedious and remarkably self-indulgent tome. And even if they are in that exhibit– that owl exhibit– they rarely show their stupid flat faces long enough for you to get a decent handle on their mannerisms and affectations. You PUTZ! Do you also think that if you hop, and then skip, and then jump that you and your family will all of a sudden be in Disney World in Orlando, Florida and that your dad will be alive– because that’s what heaven is: there’s no paradise in the clouds, or reincarnation, or aethereal drift; there are just coveted prizes that you earn, that you pick from an advertisement on the back of a Boy’s Life, and that you purchase with your banked good deeds23— and that he will forgive you, out loud, for having been a terribly inefficient use of scarce resources?24
[INSERT: Definitely this Boy’s Life ad with pictures.]
As for the call of the Owl, how can it be mastered? I’m glad you asked. Like Dudley Moore before you, you are about to enter
First– build a nest
- Use straws, twigs, grass, and damp, leaking parts from rusted, old fMRI machines
Second– invite an interloper to stay in your “dreaming nest”
Third– warn them, eloquently, about the cascade of dreams they can expect
- that they may be sad, or frightening, or beautiful
- but that sleeping in that nest DREAMS will surely come
Fourth– but make sure that they know that they will be safe from those screech owls while in the “dreaming nest”
Fifth– I guess they’re like, some other kind of owls, ones that are especially jerks or something
Sixth– While they are sleeping, devour their dreams using your short, curved, downward-facing beak that is hooked at the end
- people don’t have short, curved, downward-facing beaks that are hooked at the end
- you must be an owl now.2526
The Orangutan, or “Orange you tan? You’re not a Gorilla!,” the knock knock joke after which the great umber ape was named, is a tool-using primate whose intelligence approaches that of the most viciously retarded human beings.27 It is no surprise, then, that the Orangutan responds best to vocalizations that approximate human speech. We must never forget, lest we get our genitals and face torn off in a conniption fit of primate rage,28 that
To most effectively beckon the Orangutan, first test the depth-of-throat from which you can produce clearly audible sound. Gruff is fine– in fact it’s preferred– we’re not concerned with coherence or cogency, here: this is about noise.
Next, carve these expulsions into short, staccato bursts– each guttural gush a distinctive aural entity from its preceding bark. When properly crafted, these grunts should not go unnoticed by your primate brethren. But Attention Is Not Enough! Not for what we have planned.
If one is to truly lead men, or apes for that matter, one must be feared and respected, envied and empathized with, despised and desired.29 Woodrow Wilson knew it– it’s why he invented the Ku Klux Klan. Golda Meir knew it– it’s why she changed her name from Leggoa after plating herself in gold in 1967, enabling her to single-handedly win the Six-Day War and rest on the seventh. The point is, like gold, you must be soft but durable, incredibly conductive but so innately valuable that people will kill for you, pretty but able to be smelted into coins.30
Which is to say: emoting. You need to be able to emote. You must imbue your grunts with a range of sentiments.
1Who aren’t the children of royalty, literal or figurative young turks, or the scion of a long line of talented clarinetists.
2The number two cause of their continued refusal to mate in captivity (after ‘VSS’– Vienna Sausage Syndrome– the anxiety that your peener is small and from a can).
3I punched out some of the teeth / Its owner was very diligent when it came to taking her cat to the dentist, but very nont-at-all diligent when it came to labeling her bowls (did I mention she was a champion marbles player and she kept her marbles in bowls?) [tie].
4Extra Terrestrial Cormorant– aka Brandt’s Space Cormorant: the Bird from Space, Brandt’s Cormorant 2000, and Brandt’s Cormorant That Is Also From Space And An Alien Of Some Kind. Not to be confused with Space Brandt’s Cormorant– the cormorant kept by pioneering Moon Colonist, and Noted Birder, Brandt Anders and equipped with a special miniature space suit to study the effects of low gravity on birdflight. Suffice to say, the results were sub-optimal. [INSERT/DRAWING: “Kimberly (2018-2023)” [a cormorant’s head in a space helmet against the vacuum of space]]
5Inside of it.
6Ideally dreams, more likely nightmares. Most likely the ghost nightmares of dead American Indians– and boy are they pissed about the whole “Tomahawk Chop” thing. Oh, and also the land. Mostly the land– but you wouldn’t want to be Ted Turner right now!/unless you like money and the ability to be a semi-respected public figure despite the fact that you are obviously deranged. Anyways/see above: the use of the ‘Modified Slump’.
7Save Xanadu, Dubai, and your Launch Arcos.
8Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Talking To Animals. Mostly the latter.
9To the extent that your life can be separated/disentangled and considered apart from these failures. To the extent that they can exist, on their own, as separate entities. Your life and failure, that is.
10Without resorting to labor-intensive and papertrail-creating Excel spreadsheets.
11Remember, this song was written before platinum was invented and way before latinum became the universally accepted physical medium of value in our post-currency future.
12Where X equals the gender you want to fuck, and Y equals the gender you prefer to marry or kill. (In this scenario you are in a dystopian future in which marriage inequality/equality has rendered the term meaningless, and the institution ‘an agreement of affable neutrality between persons of mild to moderate acquaintance’ (depending on whether you are a bigot or a cool person, reverse-respectively)).
13Unless that stick is a pick-axe and you are mining gold.
14Nothing: just ask famously ugly-stick-beaten, Slave Freeing President, Abraham Lincoln; or notoriously mouse hung Hollywood Oldster, George Hamilton.
15The endangered last of the Zubaz holdouts.
16Without companionshiprotein you could catch alonemia? … I’ll workshop that.
17“Eugh– you mean “against whom will you gauge how poorly you are doing at life???” – Bronze Friend
18Counter-intuitive, there is a level of homeliness at which both of the following are true:
– the paramour, multiple DNs below you,* will be flattered and pliable to your otherwise unimpressive charms.
– you can assume, or easily argue, that you thought your friend ‘wasn’t serious’ and that you figured that ‘you’d grab a ride on his/her lopsided tilt-a-whirl’ and your friend will be too ashamed to fight back.
19Or, more accurately, outside his 14 year-old sister’s window. So she’s young: age is just a number! Your dad is six years older than your mom, your grandfather 23 years older than the RN he married– how can you affix such an arbitrary standard as ‘time expired since birth’ to gauge maturity and compatibility. It’s a complete fallacy and yet another social construct– another puritanical sexual more– created so that the liberal nanny state welfare-medico-treatment complex can tell you what you mexican and mexican’t do. Stupid liberals.
20Way classier than the common barncat, the chain-draped, massive-panted teenage busker of the farm food chain.
21See Page 397-398, Addendappendices, “106 Cheap and Creative Ways To Intimidate Small Animals and Children”
22Other benefits of an high-quality Owl call: ; tricking wizards into treating you like their anthropomorphized familiar, thus stealing their confidences;
23Minus bad deeds, of course. (Bad Deeds = debits; Good Deeds = credits).
24Instead of in your least guarded thoughts while you fall from the cusp of sleep, for once.
25As for eating those dreams– just suspend your beak 3-6 centimeters above the interloper’s head; slowly, steadily pull your head back; then whip it forward, in a single motion, as fast as you can, shattering the interloper’s skull; eat dreams.
26Stupid cat– he’d believe anything. [For more Five-Word Epitaphs, see Addendappendices, Page <number>].
27So developmentally disabled their teeth don’t grow in right, What’s the deal with…
28While mostly the realm of chimps, it never hurts to resort to animal profiling when your gonads are at stake.
29You must be Their Two Oedipal Dads– combining the murderous and the shameful fuckability of a Greg Evigan.
30Also completely fucking ruthless.