We brought Huxley in for his first doctor visit yesterday. Everything was fine. But since we were going to a clinic with an urgent care unit, I expected to see a lot of people with the flu in the waiting room. There is always a lot of messing around in the waiting room, with a two stage sign in process, a need to show ID, sign stuff, etc. etc. and then there would be a wait in the waiting room breathing in H1N1 kooties. My plan was to keep Huxley, who was in the nifty car seat-stroller thingie and well bundled against the elements, in the entrance way of the building or even in the parking lot while Amanda did what we were already told would be extended paperwork attendant to a first visit. Then, I would await Amanda’s signal through the clinic’s window when it was time to go into an exam room.
But that is not how it worked out at all.
I once worked, briefly, with a guy who kept big cats. My interest was research related, and his was in using the cats in movies and commercials, and in following the Ren-Fest circuit. He had one lion in particular that you may know. If you’ve seen the Dreyfus commercial with the lion, that’s him. He also did some work for MGM, so some recent depictions of the MGM lion are the same cat.
At the Ren Fest, people, especially kids, could get their picture taken with the lion. The photograph would show you sitting right next to the lion’s head, with your arm around the beast, lion staring more or less into the camera.
Even though this particular lion was very accustom to humans and relatively docile, there was always a chance that he could turn his head and nom-nom-nom the customer. So here’s how it was done to avoid that:
1) The lion had a collar, not visible under the mane. This collar was attached to a short chain affixed to the platform on which the lion and customer would sit. So, the lion could not move very far, but could still turn his head to the left to nom-nom-nom if he was so inclined.
2) The customer would be accompanied to the lion by the lion’s owner, who would be standing behind the customer like in a Tango, with his left hand on the customer’s left arm, and right arm on the customer’s right wrist, extending the customer’s arm well out to the side. The only way you would move towards the lion would be if the lion’s owner moved you there, and he would the place your arm around the lion’s mane and duck to the side. Since the mane was bushy and the camera in close, the lion’s owner would not be visible in the picture, but if he saw anything even a little funny he’d pull the customer away in an instant, and now and then, cancel the next few pictures and take the lion out back for a little calming down. It was key to keep the customer back behind a certain plane behind the lion’s face. Thus the tight grip and total control over the customer’s location.
3) A big scary guy would be standing immediately on the other side of the lion with a stick ready to jam the stick into the lion’s mouth. Not that he looked like he was going to do that. He just looked like a medieval guy in medieval cloths with a cane. But he was there to put the stick (the cane) into the lion’s mouth if needed.
4) The guy taking the picture was constantly talking to the lion, keeping his attention.
So, the first person in line would be brought quickly to the lion, before anyone … the customer, the lion, any nervous parental onlookers … even knew what was happening, the customer would be planted on the lion, the photo snapped, the customer pulled away from the lion and escorted off in the other direction by a helper while the lion’s owner grabbed the next customer. In and out, in and out, in and out. No time for the lion to bite the child.
So, we got to the clinic and the H1N1 virus was the lion, the receptionist was the lion’s owner, a pediatrics nurse was the big guy with the stick, and so on, as we were escorted instantly past about 25 very sick looking people (including several obviously viral children) instead of showing ID, filling out paperwork, etc. We were escorted quickly and directly into The Elmo Room, where we filled out the paper work, got weighed (well, they weighed Huxley), got seen by the doctor, filled out some more paper work… and were then hustled out of the building past all the plague ridden pheasants, I mean, sick clinic customers, and out into the parking lot.
Phew …. close call….