At our local theme park there’s a children’s petting zoo. It’s crawling with goats. It’s one of our favorite places on earth, because it is our philosophy that human beings can never pet enough goats.
In fact, our family motto is E Pettacus Goaticus Maximus, which roughly interpreted means you can never pet enough goats.
Except that you can pet goats too much. Actually, it’s possible to pet goats so much their hair starts to fall out, their teeth get loose, and they develop palsy. This is known as over petted goat syndrome, and it’s devastating—for the goats.
To keep their goats from being petted to death, the folks at the petting zoo have created a kind of sacred animal sanctuary made of ropes and signs. Helpful signs hang from snazzy roped off areas that explain the proximity rules: “Please don’t pet us while we’re behind the ropes,” or “We’re Resting,” or “Keep back goat killers!” Stuff like that.
It can be highly amusing to watch seventy or eighty children take out after the one brain damaged goat that wanders or is pushed out of the designated resting area, because an absolute orgy of goat petting can ensue.
And when I say highly amusing, I mean it’s flipping funny. Except when over petted goat syndrome hits too close to home, and the over petted goat turns out to be me.
My husband and I have been married for thirty plus years, in defiance of stacks of people who said, “It will never last, because you are young, dumb, and twitter-pated.” (Twitter-pated is the cute Disney word for horny.)
Now we’re oldish and still pretty dumb, but I feel safe in saying that my husband still finds me fun, as much fun as those kids find those goats at the petting zoo. Our marriage has been a thirty-year veritable orgy of fun.
Which is great. No, really, it’s great—except when it’s just too much.
“Your walk-in closet is off limits and Dad’s not allowed in there? What’s he talking about that your closet is sanctuary?” Our oldest daughter asked, managing to look baffled and confused at the same time.
“Goats,” I said, hanging up a sweatshirt that read Do it Grandma Style.
“Sanctuary. You know,” I explained helpfully. Confusion exploded across her face.
Sighing, I continued. “You know! The petting zoo and those signs hanging on the ropes! ‘Don’t pet us.’ ‘We’re resting.’ ‘Back away from the goat or it will drop dead.’ Those signs.”
“You make Dad stay out of your closet because of signs on ropes at a kid’s petting zoo.”
I could tell that she had put it together, but she still didn’t get it.
Frustrated, I asked, “Do you want my hair to fall out and my teeth to get loose?” I tapped my teeth for emphasis.
“Okay, listen!” I knew I had to just come right out with it. “It’s like this. If I’m not careful your father is going to pet me to death. I’ve got to have somewhere to go to catch a break.”
Her horror was audible. She screamed.
“What? You asked! I can’t help it if he’s still crazy about petting me!”
It’s true. It’s all so very true. Our daughters are horrified.
Our sons are horrified. The boys are horrified for different reasons. The boys’ comments run more along the lines of, “Gee, Dad, that’s just wrong. I hope my wife never gets the sanctuary idea.”
Boys and girls, girls and boys, and goats—old and otherwise.