Monday, August 08, 2011

sleeping with the fishes

On Saturday we did something I've been wanting to do for years: we slept with the fishes as part of the Aquarium of the Bay's Shark Week. Iris and Lola and I love the Aquarium of the Bay very, very much. When Lola was a little toddler, she became besotted with the leopard sharks and sevengill sharks there, which she called respectively "Giraffey" and "Biggy." Over and over again she'd beg me to take her and on each visit, she'd cry ecstatically "Biggy! Giraffey!" at each and every sevengill and leopard shark which passed by.

The best part of the A. of the B. is the tunnel: you are surrounded by fish-filled water on three sides, as you glide through on a moving walkway. The fish have so much room to move around, and there are so many of them in this huge tank designed to replicate the San Francisco Bay. I knew that you could rent out the aquarium for the night for a largeish sum, and I had toyed with the idea of trying to organize parents to do it with me, but I'd never made a stab at gathering the funds. Then this year I was lucky enough to score us spots at the Aquarium's Shark Week sleepover.

As usual, the Sober Husband was game but reserved and not particularly enthusiastic. We started the evening with him slightly pissed off at me, as I was busy playing the World of Warcraft when he wanted me to help sort out the bedding. I defended myself. "It's a big moment in my guild, give me a minute! People have been working on this for months!" Two of the players from my guild got married in Stormwind Cathedral, which was pretty tricky given that we are Horde and Stormwind is the human capital. Hundreds of players worked together to secure the cathedral and to hold it, while others in tuxedos and party dresses listened to the solemn vows at the altar. As I tried to listen to the ceremony and the warnings over our live chat that the alliance players were getting closer to breaking through, the Sober Husband got sarcastic over my lack of caring about our shortage of sleeping bags. "Just two minutes!" I hissed.

I closed up my computer as soon as the bridal party started to file out of the cathedral, and I volunteered to go without a sleeping bag myself. "I'll wear my cat," I said, referring to my thick, heavy cat costume pajamas complete with long tail and hood with ears. "I won't need a sleeping bag." We gathered up some blankets, the two air mattresses (dating from that pre-child era where the Sober Husband and I used to go camping together), and pillows.

My one concern had been that the event might be overcrowded and noisy. I was really happy to see that there was a small, reasonable number of families. Evidently the A. of the B. knows what it is doing with these events. Even more happily, all of the children were charming and well-behaved.

Down at the A. of the B., things got off to a slowish start. We spent much of the evening in a conference room, being educated about sharks by a pair of lively naturalists and eating cheese pizza. While I was examining a display of shark teeth, a small child confided in me that he had once discovered a piece of poop in a swimming pool. Things picked up around 9:00, and we spent two hours going around the aquarium when it was virtually empty and so quiet. This was amazing for us. I love that place so much, and normally the crowds get you rushing along. With no pressure, you could really stand and gaze at the moon jellies (I'd never noticed before that there are a few mutant moon jellies, with six stomaches instead of the regulation four). Iris uber Alles most enjoyed a lot of time with the chinchillas, who were highly lively at night, as opposed to during the day, when they generally just gaze out blearily at the visitors.

Around eleven we changed into our pajamas. A sweet little girl was taken with awe and amazement by my cat outfit, and I waved my tail at her. One of the other adults was less charmed and ostentatiously whispered about me. Then we went down to the tunnel, carrying only our bedding, and settled in for the night. Virtually everyone wanted to sleep in the part where the sharks live, which was literally packed solid with no room to spare. Meanwhile we had the entire first half of the fish tunnel to ourselves entirely. The Sober Husband was particularly taken by the huge deep sea bass, while Iris and I loved the schools of anchovies (so perfect, so beautiful. It was seeing these lovely fish at the A. of the B. years ago which got me to swear off eating seafood once again).

Self-sacrificing parents as always, we gave the children the inflatable camping mattresses, and the Sober Husband and I bunked down on the hard ground. Needless to say sleep was scanty. However, lying awake in the night, gazing up at the shadows of passing fish is really charming. I felt like I was in a nature documentary.

The next morning as we went up to get dressed and have breakfast, a naturalist asked little Lola what she had learned, no doubt expecting some nugget about sharks. Instead Lola said, "I learned to always carry the pillows." She demonstrated how she was able to loll her head onto the pile of pillows in her arms.

Upstairs I skipped the bagels and muffins and gathered up my clothes. Somehow while walking from the conference room through the gift shop to the bathroom, I dropped my clean underpants. I immediately retraced my steps, but the underwear was gone. I asked a janitor if he'd found any clothes, but no. "Someone picked them up!" I said to the Sober Husband. "I retraced my steps within two minutes!"

He looked at me like I were crazy. "Of course they would throw them away, like any normal person would."

"I think any normal person, knowing people were spending the night here, would pick up a piece of clean clothing and ask if anyone dropped it!" I hissed.

I asked him to see if they'd been turned in while I retraced my steps again. He didn't, but he did check around our luggage and confirmed that I had indeed lost my underwear, which I already knew. I asked a naturalist if anyone had turned in any clothing. "What kind of clothing?" Swallowing my embarrassment, I said, "A pair of black underpants with skulls all over them." Diplomatically she visibly choked back her laughter. Later she reported that none of the staff had had anything turned in.

A friendly fellow could see I'd lost something and asked. I explained what had happened, and he said sympathetically, "Someone must have picked them up and kept them. That's sick." He shook his head sadly. Meanwhile my own husband had no sympathy. "I don't see why you're reacting this way."

"I think any normal person who dropped something and immediately retraced their steps would be annoyed," I said. "Plus, they're my favorites."

I gave up and went along to the morning's activity, feeding the animals in the touch pool. The bat rays were so charismatic, raising their heads high out of the water to peer at us. We oohed and ahhed. One looked like it was going to jump out at me, and my friendly acquaintance said, "He's going to kiss you!" The naturalist in charge of feeding that room of animals distributed an assortment of weird thawed things for us to feed the skates and rays. I got a little squid to drop in; the children got bits of frozen fish. I forgot my missing underpants in the happiness of the moment.

Later we waited until everyone else took their luggage, in case those panties (which the Sober Husband was sick and tired of hearing about) and Lola's little flashlight, which had also gone missing, turned up. Another mother said to me, slightly condescendingly, "I'll bet someone just thought they were theirs." She looked me up and down. "After all, a lot of people have black cotton underwear. I have a lot myself." I could see where her guess came from, as I was wearing a black cotton dress over black cotton leggings with a black cotton hoodie, but she was wrong, and I pointed it out. "Actually, they weren't just black. They had Day of the Dead skulls all over them." She was visibly deflated. "Yeah, I guess that is different."

Afterwards we dragged our things over to the end of Pier 39 to watch the sea lions before going home. It was cold and foggy, the best weather for massive sea lions, and they were cavorting and snapping at each other and diving around. It was enchanting... until a very large sea lion, poised right at the closed dock to Pier 39, enjoyed a voluminous flow of liquid excrement. All the tourists recoiled and fled. Iris in particular was disgusted and disturbed. "I really wish I hadn't seen that," she said, shuddering. "And it smelled so bad. Why couldn't he do that underwater?"

Final judgment by all: if you ever have the chance to spend the night at the Aquarium of the Bay take it. But don't bring your favorite underpants.


GodsKid said...

Would these suffice?

the Drunken Housewife said...

Oh, Godskid, you are such a good internet shopper! That is amazing!

Jen in VA said...

Someone picked up your undies and KEPT them?! I can't decide if that is hysterical or disgusting.

the Drunken Housewife said...

They were clean, so that does make it less disgusting. It wasn't my worn ones from the day before.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind me asking, what server are you on?

the Drunken Housewife said...

Earthen Ring. I play as Hassenpfeffr.

Anonymous said...

Cool! I am on Kirin Tor but don't RP. I only ask because Kirin Tor as a server is slowly dying out and my guild, never terribly active, is falling apart. I don't know anyone else that plays WoW but I've been trying to find potential severs to transfer to that a.) aren't dying out like KT or b.) aren't massively overpopulated with rude people. I know some servers are notorious for awful, racist misogynist behavior. Of course, sprinklings of that surely exist on most servers, but the less jerks, the better.

the Drunken Housewife said...

If you feel like trying Earthen Ring, it has some good people. It's certainly a lively server. You might like trying my big guild I am in there, AIE.

Why you would like it: rudeness & misogyny & general jerk-ish behavior is not tolerated at all. There are quite a number of female players in the guild. There's always a lot of stuff going on, players looking for someone to do a troll heroic, or go do an AQ40 or other old content for achievement whoring, raids, etc...

Less good things about it: the guildchat is heavily censored. I got told off sternly when I typed ONE FRIGGING WORD, and it wasn't even a swear word, in caps. In my prior guilds, I used to sometimes tell saucy stories, and some adult chat could be really fun. But in this guild, it's always G rated. Watch yer language. Also, the guild is so large that you can feel anonymous and unconnected a lot of the time. I have made friends in the guild, but it's not a cosy, intimate guild. On my raid team, I feel I know the other players, and there are some other people in the guild I know, but most of 'em are strangers to me. But polite strangers, and that's good enough for WoW.

And also I find that the economy sucks on Earthen Ring. I used to make a lot of money over on Doomhammer, and I have to work much harder on Earthen Ring to get gold.

But anyhow I have to say it is a good guild to be as a female player. You won't be alone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your answer! I'm going to talk it over with my partner and friend that I play WoW with and see what they think.