Monday, December 12, 2011

Reindeer Rentals


Yesterday, I went to the California Academy of Sciences for the first time.  As I wandered around with my children, I thought it seemed like a standard, well-rounded science museum with the obligatory IMAX theater, displays on global warming, fishtank with a guy in a SCUBA suit answering questions, and corral of reindeer.

Yeah, you read that right, they had reindeer in a corral in back.  As I walked up to ask what reindeer were doing in a science museum, I noticed the woman answering questions (while showing off a reindeer antler) wore a jacket that said “California Reindeer Rentals.”  She wasn’t with the museum, she was a reindeer specialist brought in for the occasion.  There are in fact, reindeer professionals.  You can rent reindeer.

Sensing a blog post, I began to ask questions.


Me: You rent reindeer?

Her: Yes.

Me: For, what, parties and museums?

Her: Sometimes.  We also do living nativity scenes.

Me: What’s that?

Her: We set up a little manger with actors in costumes and some animals.

Me: There were reindeer at the birth of Christ?  Santa Claus was at the birth of Christ?

Her: Well, no, but people ask for it.  We also have some sheep and goats, and a miniature camel.

Me: A miniature whahey?

Her: Camel.  It’s called a vicuna.  They’re actually endangered.  We’re part of the breeding program bringing them back.

Me: The vicuna were hunted to near extinction for their use in live nativity scenes?

Her: No.

Me: Oh.

She showed her antler to a young, Asian couple.  When I came back to talk to her she let out a pained sigh.

Me: What about a moose?

Her: What?

Me: What if I wanted to rent a moose?  Do you have any?

Her: No.  Moose aren’t usually very friendly.  They’re also pretty big, so they’re not good to have around kids.

Me: I guess a crocodile would be out of the question, then.

She doesn’t answer.  I realize I’m losing her and change tactics.

Me: Why do they have muzzles on?

Her: They aren’t muzzles.  Their mouths are open so they can eat.  They’re wearing halters so we can grab them and lead them around.

Me: I thought halters were women’s clothing.

Her: Those are halter tops.

Me: You have reindeer in halter tops?  Cool! (to my children) The reindeer are wearing women’s halter tops!

Her: No, I-

Me: So, you can hook the reindeer to a sleigh or something?

Her: We do that sometimes for Christmas displays, but only for a short time.  State law prohibits-

Me: Can they pull the sleigh very fast?

Her: No, they’re far too small.  They can’t even-

Me: What if they were really scared?

Her: Huh?

Me: I mean, what if we did an experiment to see if they could pull a sleigh if they were scared?  You know, we could go to California Wolf Rental or California Bear Rental and rent something.

Her: No.

Me: I was hoping we could scare them into pulling the sleigh off a cliff and see if they could fly.  There’d have to be someone actually in the sleigh, though.  Someone Santa-like.  Know any fat, bearded guys you really hate?

Her: I’m done talking to you.

After that, she turned away from me and brandished the antler in my direction whenever I came close enough to talk.

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