Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Shit, not done yet.
On Sunday, the Bride and I (it was supposed to be Bride, Groom and I, but Layla had a Disturbing Tummy Issue, so her daddy stayed home with her) used our Sea World passes to escape the grind - I wanted to get one more use in on mine. They really were a great deal: "Pay for a day, come back all year" - we went last March, before it became too hot to even consider it, so I wanted to get at least one freebie visit in. We had fun. Just wandered, fed stingrays, fed sharks (actually the tarpons were faster and got more than the adorable little spotted sharks we WANTED to feed) and fed seals. Listened to tourists screaming at their kids. It was both hot and crowded - I know the job market hasn't recovered, but a whole lot of people apparently have enough discretionary income to pack an expensive theme park to the gills.
We observed the tourists, people watched, and just wandered, and fed and petted stingrays and petted dolphins. It was a fairly charmed day - we'd just left the whale and dolphin show, which also was glitzed-up and dumbed-down to an aquatic circus, complete with a gal in bird feathers on a trapeze, but not as painfully awful as the Shamu atrocity. The dolphins were still obviously having a blast and the trainers could still get in the water and play with them. That part of the show was great - the rest was crap thrown in from some corporate conference room.
We debated and decided against feeding dolphins on this trip - the line to do so was awful this time - so we bypassed it to just go say hi. While we were there, a couple of trainers appeared and put on a training display. Bridegirl was just musing about how they decide which dolphins get promoted to the serious training for the show, and 5 minutes later they started a "training" session, which we are sure doubles as a screening for "swim around and get petted" vs. "performing". The "class" was put through a few simple behaviors - come to the first trainer, go to the other trainer, go fan out along the wall so the people watching could pet them, do a jump or two. The trainers also trained the audience, lecturing about securing loose stuff like sunglasses and don't whine if you get splashed, and don't touch their faces or blowholes (Trainer: "How would you like it if a bunch of strangers started poking you in the face?") It was fun, and funny, and if I had my career to start over, I'd be a dolphin trainer - or a penguin wrangler.
Purely by coincidence, we arrived the morning after a new baby killer whale was born. This was fun - the now lame and boring "Shamu Show!" was canceled, and the big stadium was turned over to mom and baby bonding. Visitors could wander in at will, sit in the upper tier seats, at a safe distance, and watch as mom and baby swam lazy laps and baby nursed, then get up and leave when they'd watched long enough. Every so often a trainer would explain what they were observing in mom-baby behaviors, and why they were important for the baby's well-being. It was sweet and interesting, and so much more real than that horrifyingly stupid "Believe" show, which was so obviously developed in a corporate conference room and handed to the trainers to perform, like the whales are freaking accessories to a story that was all about the trainer. The entire concept of that show made me want to throw up. Sunday was so much more like Ye Olden Days, when Sea World didn't feel it had to try so freaking hard to be Entertaining.
Isn't it enough that we live to serve by teaching people from landlocked states about the life in the ocean? Do we have to perform with videos and light shows and that weird chick on the trapeze?