Poetry

I remember phrases from childhood travels, not images or events.  Glass-bottomed boat.  Lion Country Safari.  Circus Circus. The musicality of the words meant more to me than the actual experiences.

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.