I am a friend to the animals. Sort of a St. Francis of the 'burbs. I'll swerve to avoid hitting a squirrel. I'm on a first name basis with all the feral cats and dogs of the neighborhood. OK, so first name basis means Kittycat or Poochie, depending on species, but it proves that I'm interested in their feelings.
Some of my favorite times have been spent in a boat, fishing and checking out river creatures or biking early in the morning on the trail digging the deer and turkeys as the morning chill starts to evaporate.
But do I get any love back from the animal kingdom? No, I do not.
Last weekend my girlfriend and I went to the North Georgia Zoo. It was pretty cool. We hit the Atlanta Aquarium earlier thanks to free passes, so it was a day of animal fun. We bought a bucket of food and started feeding animals. I made friends with an emu, a bird you might recognize from crossword puzzle clues.
The goats and sheep were all over us, due to our magical bucket. Here's one of the few photos I shot, mostly because my fingers were covered with goat spit.
As I was distributing handouts to another group of pushy farm animals, a llama wandered over. I started to say something deep like, "Check it out, a llama," when it looked at me with its stupid llama eyes and spit all over me.
If you've never been spit on by a llama, imagine being dunked in lawn clippings that smell like the inside of an animal's stomach. Add some grit, some liquid, and a little more stink, and you've got the idea.
It was all over my face, my hair, my shirt, inside my mouth, basically everything above the waist. I dropped my glasses on the ground while spitting and coughing. Apparently I was ready to just leave them, saying, "I'll just get some new ones." I'm surprised I didn't just leave my shirt on the ground as well, but my reluctance to display my doughy physique won out.
I spent the rest of the day smelling like the stage of a 1977 Sex Pistols show, and learning a valuable lesson about animals that pretend to be your friend.
I still speak to the stray cats in my neighborhood, but I am a bit more wary and not as cheerful. Will I still swerve to avoid a squirrel? I'm not 100% sure anymore. Some might say that blaming all of animalkind for the actions of one asshole llama is a terrible example of racism, but I'll bet those people have never been covered in llama spit.