The Importance of Parentage
My father was a giraffe and my mother a gazelle. How I turned out human was the talk of the town. The neighbors said, “See, see what happens once you let them move into the neighborhood?” It was a blue-collar neighborhood in Detroit where unemployment ran high. My father planted tall hedges around the house to gain some privacy, but his head and most of his neck could still be seen over the hedge when he was out working in the yard.
I didn’t have many friends, not until I started going out for sports in high school. I was the slam-dunk king on the basketball court and largely responsible for our school team winning our division at state in my senior year. I ran the hundred-meters in nine seconds flat, a world record that was denied me because of my parentage. This also kept me out of the Olympics.
I didn’t go to college. I drifted after high school, worked odd jobs and drank. I wound up an animal handler at the Washington D.C. zoo. I had a way with the animals, all but the carnivores. Then one of the gazelles gave birth to a creature with a human face, and that was it for me at the zoo.
I’ve thought about writing a book, the story of my life, but I don’t have a way with words. I collect a modest social-security check and get food stamps. I live in a rented room in the black section of town and I’m teaching myself to play banjo. If I get good enough, I may move to Nashville.
My life isn’t that different from most Americans these days. I hardly stand out at all.