I don’t pretend to be cooler than you. Because I’m not, and I know it. When you become a parent, you permanently surrender any claim to coolness whatsoever. I realized that the instant the midwife plonked my small warm son into my arms for the very first time, and it didn’t bother me a bit. So don’t think that I’m trying to put on airs here.
Nevertheless, sometimes and for no virtue of your own, the universe smiles upon you. Sometimes you’re invited to the 2007 International SF/Fantasy Conference in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. Sometimes the warm and generous people from Science Fiction World, the sponsor of the conference, squire you and your friends about town to see the local sights. Sometimes those sights include the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. Sometimes they’ve arranged a special photo op for you there. Sometimes it all adds up to a moment so perfect that all anyone can possibly say is:
Here I am, holding a live panda in my lap.