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.
Friday, August 31, 2007
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That...well, that's just cool. And it's something you can remind your son of when he rolls his eyes at his dad's uncoolness.
That's not only just so cool it is also very cute. And I agree with carrying a wallet sized picture for when your kids rolls their eyes and wails the pained, "Daaadd."
Holding a panda? Permanent coolness!
Pandas are an otherworldly menace. You only have to go to a zoo and see the vacant smiles of thousands of people standing in line for hours, notionally to catch a glimpse of a black-and-white bear, to know that something goddamn creepy is going on. I seem to be one of the few who remain unaffected.
Nope. Sorry. I almost never tell a cynic he's wrong, because he so rarely is. But there's nothing at all creepy about pandas. They're mammals. They're slow-moving. They're self-indulgent hedonists. They don't want to bite you. They're still wild. How often do you get that combination? Pretty much never.
So, well, you're wrong here, Richard. Not that I take any pleasure in telling you so.
And now you point me to Neil Gaiman's description of the same or similar event: you get a year-old Panda placed on your lap. Utter, utter happiness. Better than any number of awards. Makes being a writer completely worthwhile. I suspect that world peace and harmony would come about in weeks if people just got to put pandas on their laps every few months.
Oh. My. God.
There are any number of science fiction stories on this theme, but for some reason the takeover species is usually some kind of vegetable.
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