This weekend, I was enjoying McKinney, Texas' 2009 Dickens of a Christmas festival in their downtown Lafayette Square. And, after some handy card tricks at the magic shop, I found myself at the makeshift petting zoo. I normally find travelling petting zoos sad and filthy, but the Christly humility of these goats and miniature horses, with the smell of stall shavings, reminded me very much of a nativity and thus seemed fitting for a Christmas festival.
The proprietor or co-proprietor, as they were a couple, of this particular travelling petting zoo was sporting on his shoulder and then on the railing and then again on his shoulder, a waist-leashed ring-tailed lemur. I'd never seen in the flesh a ring-tailed lemur and so I was hesitant to ask lest I embarrass myself in front of this gentleman wearing a long-sleeve undershirt beneath a short-sleeve undershirt.
The gentleman was impressed I knew his animal's common name and we stuck up a conversation. When I asked what he fed the lemur he produced from his shirt pocket a plastic sack of small pellets, "purrreena monkey food." I had no idea Purina made a monkey chow. "Oh yeah, purrreena makes monkey food and I even saw they have a tiger chow." Now it was my turn to be impressed. I then bid the gentleman and his lemur goodbye and carried on with A Dickens of a Christmas, North Texas Style, which is to say deep-fried.