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The Silence of the LLamas

I enjoy telling stories about my wife and daughter, Pamela and Brooke. I am the perennial proud papa, and everyone knows it. So a few months ago, we all went away for a fall foliage weekend with some of our college friends and their kids. On that particularly gloomy Sunday morning, we parted ways with our buddies and headed for the Catskills Game Farm. The farm moniker is a misnomer, as the place is more rightly a Zoo. Brooke cleverly named many of the animals we saw such as Giraffes, sheep, Zebras, horses and pigs, and punctuated the air with the sounds they make (Pig – oink oink, etc.) to the delight of her parents. Slowly made our way through the very sparsely populated park to the “feeding nursery.”

It was there that the horror began. We bought our small box of animal feed crackers, and began to feed the sheep and goats that quickly targeted us as the suckers who brought them a free lunch. Since the park was not well attended this morning, the petting zoo animals were seriously cruising for food.

It is interesting to note that ‘stupid’ farm animals are in fact very well wired into where their food comes from, specifically the cracker packets that easy marks like myself buy so our children can be photographed feeding goats. Nothing gets the legs moving like the basic instinct for food.

Which is where the llamas come in. While feeding a sheep, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around expecting my wife, I came face to ugly face with a six-foot llama who was not-so-gently inquiring about a lunch reservation at chez Greenstein. I quickly handed the llama a treat hoping he’d back off. Which is when he made the secret llama signal that indicated, “This human has food.”

I was quickly surrounded by three very aggressive llamas giving me little shoves reminiscent of the “give me your lunch money” bullies in grade school.

Pam and Brooke were standing outside the circle of carnage, and Pam yelled “get away, Llamas, ” which Brooke cutely echoed as ‘Away, llama!” again and again. In desperation, I threw a few crackers over the llamas’ shoulders, and hid the cracker box inside my jacket. This confused them enough to let me escape from what could have been an ugly clash of llama spit and Ivy-League stubbornness. Either way, it would not have been nice.

We then hi-tailed it to find the only keeper in the pen, who, ironically, was bucktoothed and resembled one of the animals in the cage he was cleaning. This Sullivan county native didn’t even look up when we ran over. I then gently mentioned the fact that I had almost been eaten by a few of his charges. He said, “Well, if’n any of ‘em shove you down, just remember which one and come tell me. We put the really nasty ones back in their cages.”

“I’m sorry officer, I didn’t get the license plate of that hit-and-run llama. Maybe next time.” Now I know where Fox gets the material for “When Animals Attack”.

I’m not sure how well this story comes through, but I swear it was truly funny. If you didn’t laugh, just spend a moment visualizing ME in the unlikely situation of being surrounded by 3 llamas and I guarantee a chuckle.

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Last update: 8/23/2002; 9:40:59 PM.