Wednesday, November 16, 2005

That's My Opinion, So Zoo Me

In the summer after 8th grade, I went on a bus tour of the East Coast with about 30 other kids my age. In Washington, D.C., we visited the National Zoo, where we saw the two giant pandas Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling (both of whom are now dead).

On a wall inside the Panda House, I saw a collection of letters to the pandas written by children. All the letters were on the same kind of tablet paper, and all began with the words “Dear Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling.” These were clearly not letters spontaneously composed by panda-loving children across the nation. Apparently, a first- or second-grade teacher in Maryland had taken her class on a field trip to the zoo and then assigned her students to write letters to the pandas.

Most of the letters were entirely panda-focused, consisting of expressions of admiration (“I think pandas are really neat!”) or questions (“What does bamboo taste like?”). But one letter stood out from the bunch. It said:
Dear Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling,

I liked the hyenas best.

[kid’s name here]

I don’t remember the kid’s name, but I remember thinking to myself, “Someday this kid will rule the world.” I imagine he pleaded with his teacher to let him write a letter to the hyenas, but she insisted he write to the pandas instead. So he followed her directions verbatim, while still saying what he wanted to say.

I’ve often wondered where that kid is now and what he’s doing. Of course, he’s not a kid any more; he’s probably about 28. And it suddenly occurred to me last night that this newfangled Internet-thingie might help me find out what happened to him. Hey hyena kid, are you out there?


JB said...

"Someday rule the world..."

Sure you don't mean become a libertarian and have very little influence whatsoever.

(Said as someone who's frequently been remarked as one who "marches to the beat of his own drummer.")

Jeff Brown said...

What a terrible comment, by someone with my initials.

JB said...


I'd likely have done the same thing, but let me tell you I readily concede I'm not at all likely to rule the world someday.

I like the sentiment don't get me wrong I agree with it, but my point is that's just not the way the world works.

Glen Whitman said...

I'm going to have to side with JB, Jeff. My prediction that Hyena Boy would someday rule the world stemmed from my naive 8th-grader belief that individuality gets rewarded with leadership. Now I know better. Individuality has its rewards, but leadership is rarely one of them.

And sadly, as JB notes, libertarians have very little influence in real-world politics.

Jeff Brown said...

Pardon me. I thought Z had identified unprovoked hostility; I must have been mistaken.

Jeff Brown said...

By "Z" I mean "I".

Cris Sullivan said...

Hyena Kid said what he wanted to say while still prescribing to the rules... This seems to fit into, if no other paradigm of leadership, that of a politician.

Of course, with politicians, its often what their funders want them to say moreso than what they "want" to say--but they do want that funding.

But hey, here's hoping Hyena Kid is a libertarian and not a politician.

JB said...

Surely, humor doesn't usually convey well in a blog comment, and I can see why you might think that Jeff. I tried to make it clearer by noting that I myself tend to be such an independent spirit, but I can see how you would think my comment was mean-spirited.

Anywho, it's all cool (at least on this end.)

RanDomino said...

No, your mom!

On said...

wow tooooooooo cute!!! I would like to take a look of the Pandas as well.

I love Panda... and just bought a Panda Bag from the following Blogshop:

Nice to meet you.