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I like aquariums. I suppose it is part of the fish tank effect that the all-knowing They describe: fish soothe me. Some of it is the color and sound of water, some the slow weaving of the fish, some the flow of water plants. However, I managed to go to the aquarium here in Baltimore without seeing very many fish at all.

Opal and I went together. Both of Opal’s parents were busy with the conference that Brent came here to attend. We spent a couple of hours in the morning in the hotel pool until near-starvation convinced Opal that leaving the pool would not be a complete tragedy, particularly since I promised we could go in again in the afternoon. Revived by lunch, she consented to visit the aquarium first.

I am not a fan of meta-experiences, but the first thing we did at the aquarium was to sit through the “4-D” film. We were poked in the back, misted with water, and assaulted with strobe lights. Both of us liked the bubbles that floated down on us, but personally, I could have forgone them if it meant that I could skip the poking, too. Sea snakes swam at us through our 3-D glasses, waves crashed, spears pointed. I think there might have been some content, but what it was escaped me because I was distracted by all the stuff, not to mention the screaming of the ten gazillion elementary students who shared the theater with us. I’d give it a miss next time.

The dolphin show, on the other hand, was lovely. There was obvious affection between the dolphins and their trainers. The dolphins seemed healthy and playful, doing some of their show behaviors for fun even before the show began. Opal was captivated by the dolphins who liked to spin in the water just like she does. She doesn’t find it as amusing as I do when the dolphins splash the people who willingly sit in the splash zone seats, perhaps because she doesn’t understand the consensual nature of the transaction; she doesn’t want to be splashed, so how could anyone else actually seek it out? I saw behaviors I’ve never seen before, dolphins playing catch with trainers and dolphins leaping over exercise balls in the water.

Opal looked a little faded by the end of the show, but I persuaded her to go see the jellies with me. She in turn persuaded me that she’d have more fun if she had a snack first, which seemed like a good deal for both of us. I can watch jellies for hours because I find their movements so graceful, but I was content with a quick look, since Opal wanted to hurry back to swim.

In the gift shop on the way out, one of those water toys that are challenging to pick up because they slide through your hand burst all over Opal. The nice man behind the counter says it happens all the time, which makes me wonder why they continue to stock them. Opal was more glittery than before and definitely wet, so we wrapped her up in my scarf and we headed back to the hotel to get wet on purpose instead.



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June 2012
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