I planned a family outing to the New England Aquarium for Father’s Day. It ended up being a rather stressful trip, at least during the traveling to and from the Aquarium. Originally, we were going to take public transportation, but it was raining hard all day and walking from the T station in the rain as well as lugging a stroller on and off a train wasn’t sounding like a good idea, so we parked in a nearby garage and walked a short way. This ended up being a very wet walk anyway - pruny toes all day wet. The ticket booths for the Aquarium were outside (i.e. in the rain) and as soon as we got in the building they beckon you to the side and take a picture in front of a green screen. A picture they will charge you an exorbitant price to buy. Welcome to the Aquarium.
Once we walked in to the Aquarium itself it was great. Cora loved the large central tank that rose 3 or more stories up the center of the Aquarium. It house three huge sea turtles, rays, a shark or two, and lots of fish. She was mesmerized. So were Pete and I.
However, at the smaller side tanks a stroller made crowd navigation very difficult. It was like chariot racing with strollers, we should have added wheel spikes.
We thought it was busy before lunch, but everyone was just waiting till the afternoon. It got much busier. Cora was getting tired so Toby went on my back in the carrier and Cora rode in the stroller. We saw a few more things, the top of the giant tank was very cool, but we were on borrowed time with the kids. We rushed (as much as you can in pressing crowds with a stroller; wheel spikes, I’m telling you) past the octopus and jellyfish then paused at the stingray touch tank. Cora and I got to be right at the edge and touch a sting ray. Most of them were smaller, 12-18 inch wing-span, but there was one huge leopard spotted ray that was nearly four feet wide!
By the time we left the ray tank Cora was melting and Toby was asleep on my back...and we had forgotten to take a family photo. This is a chronic problem with us, we just always forget until it’s too late. So Pete hands me the card that has our photo number on it and takes Cora to the gift shop to buy a postcard.
I stepped up to the counter.
Me: Can I preview my photo please?
Him: I’ll print them out, then discuss pricing.
Me: No, I just want to preview it, to see if it is any good.
Him: I’ll print them out so you can see.
Me: Fine. (I hear numbers thrown around by the guy next to me, $20, $30, yikes!)
He lays out an 8x10 in a cardboard frame, two smaller loose photos and one smaller one in a plastic magnetic frame.
Him: $21 for the large one, $27 for the three smaller ones, $35 for all of it.
Me: How much for just this one? I hold up the 4x6.
Him: I’m sorry, it comes as a set.
Me: You’re kidding me?
He repeats the pricing.
The guy buying all of his photos next to me leans in and points to Toby: Is that your little guy?
Me: Oh my gosh! Someone pushed their kid into our picture!
Really?! say photo-guy and guy-buying-photos
Me: Ba-dum-ching. Naw, that’s my son. I get funny looks.
Me: So I really can’t just buy this one photo? Come on, after a punch line like that?
Me: What do you do with them if I say no?
Him: We throw them away.
Me: In the trash?
Me: Can I say no, wait a few minutes then throw away this kleenex?
Small smile as he shakes his head.
Me: Five bucks for the 4x6.
He sighs, looks up and does a quick nod. I fish out cash and take my one photo.
At least, that’s what I wish I had said. Instead, my response was a quiet yup, that’s my son, a half-hearted attempt to haggle with the photo-guy and then I handed over my credit card to pay $27 for the pictures of our family - bedraggled from walking in the rain, Pete holding Cora, me leaning in next to them and one lonely hand on the stroller with poor Toby sitting sullen-faced.
Happy Father’s Day.