You can take the girl out of Oklahoma ... but apparently it follows you no matter where you go.
Yesterday, I read an L.A. Times article about a herd of goats that were being used to clear brush on a hillside patch of grass in the Bunker Hill district of downtown. (For all you John Fante fans, this is prime "Ask the Dust" territory, right next to the Angels Flight railway.)
So I thought this would be a great place to bring C. It's a weird L.A. story that we can laugh about years from now. (Remember when Mommy took you to see the goats next to the Pershing Square subway stop and the Bank of America building?) It's closer than the zoo. And, what really sold me, was that she could get a glimpse of her mother's roots -- full disclosure: I grew up in the city -- on a Wednesday without having to leave her own (goat-tended) backyard.
And she loved it. She loved the goats, and the goats loved her. C kept pointing and asking "What's that? What's that?" And one of the herd even came down to greet her. Of course I yanked her away immediately. Like I said, it's not the zoo, and who really can vouch for these goats?
But this was not before she walked up to the fence separating the concrete jungle from the grassy one and touched it. At that moment, I experienced one of those parental horror moments, and two words, complete with exclamation point, flashed in my head: Goat pestilence! What had I done to my baby? Why had I brought her here to be exposed to some sort of goat plague that I could've avoided by staying home and doing the right parental thing like reading her a book or even -- gasp -- letting her watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse"?
I immediately pulled out a baby wipe from the diaper bag and rubbed her hands over and over. Of course, right then a transient popped out of the subway and started maahh-ing at the goats. Good God, what had I been thinking? This was downtown L.A., after all. I rushed her to the car and pulled out my peach-scented anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and doused her some more.
High-tailing back home, I was terrified. My little outing, my moment of parental bonding with my child was looking more and more like negligence that would certainly lead to a visit to the emergency room.
Once we got inside, I washed her hands again, called my mom to get the lowdown on goat pestilence and watched as my little C ran to her toy box and pulled out all of her stuffed animals while laughing and burbling. She hadn't actually touched one of the goats. Just the fence. No cries of pain. No weird bumps. No foaming at the mouth. Maybe she would be OK after all.