All I remember about the glass-bottomed boat was my incredulousness. How could a boat have a glass bottom? I pictured a little motorboat with a slab of window for a bottom. Wasn’t that dangerous? Wouldn’t it break? Couldn’t ladies shatter it with their high heels?
I don’t remember the actual boat, or the coral reef, down there in the Florida keys. all I remember is those four syllables, and the fact that my dad went snorkling instead. Snorkling. What a word that was! I couldn’t imagine what he was doing. Dads did mysterious things, though. My dad went to an office downtown most days, and I had no idea what he did there. Snorkle. Glass-bottomed boat.
We went to several outfits like Lion Country Safari. We visited one in Florida, and one in Texas. They strike me as ill-conceived now. You stay in your car. “Wild” animals wander around. Giraffe, deer, maybe even ostrich. The lions, my father insists, were actually in cages that you drove by. I remember you could get your photo taken with a lion cub for an extra charge. My parents disapproved of this on the grounds of both safety and thriftiness. I did not get a picture. I just kept the name of the place, forever. Lion Country Safari.
Circus Circus, I’m told, is still there. I visited Las Vegas when I was three. My grandmother paid for me to be made up as a clown. I was only spoiled for my first few years, the ones I have the fewest memory of. Afterward, I kept the red foam nose, with a sprinkling of glitter. Sometimes I put it on my nose again. You needed glue to hold it there, though, and I didn’t have that kind of glue at home. You actually need souvenirs to remember trips when you are a child. You actually will forget. Circus Circus. I either saw, or thought I would see, trapeze artists in the atrium. I’m not sure which.
We also visited Muir Woods. We ate Chinese food in San Francisco, which I liked as a city name only second to Cincinnati. You would think the Hearst Castle would impress more with its architecture than its name, but my world was made of words, not marble.