31 May 2009

A dinosaur of a disappointment.

I love dinosaurs.  Sitting in Spanish class on Wednesday May 20, I couldn't focus for the life of me, anticipating the dinosaurs that I would see later on that afternoon at the Natural History Museum.  I learned how to say dinosaur and raptor in Spanish (dinosaurio y raptor) and wrote in my Diario de Espanol about the dinosaurios and raptors I would soon be seeing.  There was only one thing in the back of my mind that was more exciting that the dinosaurs themselves: the gift shop with the take-home dinosaurs.  I’m twenty years old, and I can still get excited about something like dinosaurs. 
The hour and a half spent on the 110 flew by as I anticipated my rendezvous with the dinosaurs.  I happily paid the $8 for parking and the $13 for admission for my mother and I.  Accompanied by another dinosaur enthusiast, my mother, we nearly skipped into the entrance lobby.  The first thing we saw was the replica of the T. Rex and Stegosaurus.  This is just a sneak preview of the amazing wonders in the actual dinosaur exhibit, I thought to myself.  We identified that exhibit on the map, and headed the opposite direction, wanting to save it for last.
I passed idly through the North American mammals.  Oxen, goats, and ostriches—oh my.  It wasn’t so much that I don’t like mammals, it was the fact that they were permanently stuck in such awkward positions for the rest of time that bothered me the most.  The African mammals were a bit more stimulating.  I love exotic rainforest animals, especially the monkeys.  But as I passed through all of these exhibits with these frozen animals a strange feeling came over me.  Maybe I haven’t been to the zoo enough, or maybe I’ve just seen Night at the Museum too many times, but it made me feel sad and sorry that these animals weren’t living anymore. 
After the feeling passed, we found a small door that led to a darker room.  They called it the “Gem Room”, and I was instantly captivated.  As a collector of exotic jewelry, this room was mesmerizing because it was chock-full of the most vibrantly colored rocks and stones that I’ve ever seen.  Glass case after glass case of geodes and minerals and stones lead us to an even smaller, darker room.  And there, before my eyes, I saw it: the most beautiful diamond I’ve ever seen.
There it sat in its own glass case, all 5.05 carats of it, it its fiery red glory.  It was a ruby-red colored diamond.  It looked like a cherry jolly rancher, except clearer.  I pictured the platinum setting I would put it in, and how much attention I would gather from its beauty. 
“Let’s go now, Cass,” my mother said, pulling me out of my red diamond induced coma.  I still can’t get it out of my mind, almost 2 weeks later. 
“Dinosaurs,” she reminded me, and we were off to the second story in search of my favorite fossils.
I cannot really describe the rollercoaster of emotions that unfolded in the hour following the Gem Room.  We got to the second story and found a T. Rex—a single T. Rex that was still in boxes—yes, boxes, and behind a glass window.  Live paleontologists were slowly twittering about behind the glass.  One was looking through a microscope with what looked like a dentist’s hook (the kind they use to scrape the plaque out of your teeth) and whittling away at some unidentified piece of Thomas the T. Rex. 
The name Thomas brings me to my next disappointment.  They found this dinosaur, millions of years old, and they name him Thomas.  Thomas the T. Rex?  They couldn’t come up with a better name like Leviticus, or Chantal, or Schwarzenegger?
“This can’t be it,” I told my mom.  We walked across the hall to the bird collection—a nightmare in the title.  A field trip was taking place in there, and it was crawling with two busloads worth of second graders.  Second graders are the worst for one reason: they want to show that they can read everything, and they do.
In the midst of all this, there was somehow still hope in my mind that I would find the dinosaurs buried deep in the bowels of the bird collection.  I crossed the bridge into the rainforest room, and I couldn’t decipher animatronic bird calls from second graders reading the signs.  The noise grew louder.  After I stood on the scale and had my bone weight read (22 pounds), my mom and I made our way back to the first floor.
“Just ask someone where they are,” she urged, her patience wearing thin. 
I asked the lady at the front desk where they were hiding the dinosaurs. 
“Oh…the dinosaurs?” She asked.  “The dinosaur exhibit has been closed since 2006.” My heart stopped beating. “It won’t reopen till 2011.”
I sauntered away, thinking that the only thing to soothe the bitter disappointment of no dinosaurs would be the gift shop.  The gift shop was just salt in the wound: a vast majority of the “gifts” were dinosaur-related.  When we made it back to the car we were silent for a while. 
“I guess it was a lot better when I was a kid,” I told my mom.
“It always is,” she said.
[This was what I turned in as my 2-page analysis of a museum for extra credit in one of my classes].

1 comment :

  1. when did ostriches become northamerican mammals?
    its sean by the way
    i love you


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