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It’s a zoo out there

“To better imagine zoo life, you might picture yourself living with your brother (if you are male) or sister (if you are female) in a department store’s window display that looks like a luxuriously furnished home.  Satin drapes shroud the French doors, white woolen upholstery encases the armchairs and the sofa, and a thick silk Oriental carpet covers the parquet floor.  But the doors lead nowhere, the books on the shelves are fake, the TV doesn’t work, the radio has no innards, and the only magazine, a copy of House Beautiful on the coffee table, is dated 1980.  Anyway, you have read it so often you now know it by heart.  Long ago you and your sibling have resolved all your differences.  You have little to say to one another and you no longer think of escape.  You have forgotten your freedom and have accepted your fate.  The building is your prison, and both of you realize that you will never leave it alive.  To forget the boredom and the crowds of people going freely wherever they please, who gather each day outside the glass window, oohing and aahing at the luxury that surrounds you, you and your sibling lie down behind the sofa, where you escape into dreams.  You don’t wake up if you can help it, not even when people in the crowd notice your feet poking out beyond the sofa and bang on the glass to rouse you.  You dream of the night, which you spend with three or four other prisoners shackled to the chairs in the employees’ lounge.  At least you and your fellows can talk all night without wild-looking faces staring at you.” — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Tribe of Tiger

Published inLit & CritVerandah

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