Today’s note is about Reservations.

‘Reservation’ is one of those remarkable English words that contrives to have diametrical meanings. On the one hand, the word means a sense of hesitation or reconsideration (“I have reservations about writing this essay.”). With typical linguistic agility, it can also mean securing the time and place to do something (“I have a reservation to write this essay, so you can’t tell me the internet is full.”).

Our time on the island has been full of both types of reservation, especially now as the community tries to open within the bounds of safe capacity. I can now use both meanings in a single sentence (“I have reservations to go to dinner, but I have reservations about how safe it would be to do so.”). I do not mean to make any sort of moral or even scientific judgement. I’m merely pointing out that we are now in the odd intersection of Venn diagrams.

Recently, I was bemused by the news item that the Dallas Zoo is now open for business (I should have saved this essay for my ‘z’ entry). There is nothing striking about that fact or the associated attempt on the Zoo’s part to control the flow of the crowds who are likely to come out, especially with the fine weekend weather we have been having. What I do find comical is the concept that the Zoo will be open By Appointment Only. In fact, the appointments represent time of admission and I presume there will be some guidance as to the flow of passage through the park to limit potential exposure. But in my mind, I picture a tuxedo-clad lion standing at the maître d’ station, checking out names on a list before passing us off to a giraffe for seating. In the kitchen, a rhino is hard at work making soup while hedgehogs garnish the salads.

There is always something subversive about zoo parks. They are not locations where you can govern the flow easily. Patrons want to be able to choose their favorites (I for one would hate to be shuttled through the spider exhibit). They want to sit and make faces at the gorillas (which they should not be doing and which the gorillas in their far greater wisdom generally ignore) or roar back at the tigers (who spend the day sleeping in the sun despite the noisy visitors). We may be forced to adjust for the pandemic, but I have trouble envisioning a zoo that has a turnstile flow like some exhibit at an art museum.

Cancel my zoo reservations for now, thank you. I have far too many reservations about how a rigid structure will change the experience to attend right now.