On our way to Miami we passed a marine animal park called Theater of the Sea. I was still bitter about not getting to go to Animal Kingdom so I asked my father if we could go to Theater of the Sea. He agreed. They offered a swim with dolphins program that I would have loved to have participated in but it cost over $200 so it wasn’t going to happen. The animal performance shows were more reasonably priced.

Let me say up front that it was not without a certain amount of guilt that I went to Theater of the Sea. I’ve seen the documentary Blackfish and I do not entirely approve of keeping marine mammals in captivity and forcing them to perform for humans but damn it, the performing animals are so cute!

The dolphins at Theater of the Sea that danced to music and balanced hoops on their noses were indeed very cute, as were the sea lions that slid down slides and balanced balls on their noses. The reptiles were less amenable to performance. A trainer seemed surprised that an alligator did not come to her when she called it. I would have been more surprised if it had responded to her command.

At the reptile show I learned that a lot of the animals at Theater of The Sea have been rescued and cannot be released in to the wild, which assuaged my guilt over patronizing a facility that was holding them in captivity. There was a turtle that had lost its eyes in a dog attack and a turtle named Quasimodo that had a spinal deformity requiring it to wear a life jacket in order to swim. The trainer told us not to feel too bad for these turtles because they have a happy life at Theater of the Sea. As the names and stories of the reptiles were shared, I found myself annoyed by the male reptiles that had female names and the female reptiles that had male names. Name nerd problems.

At the parrot show the parrots impressed us with their ability to do math and recognize colors and shapes. Many of the parrots were former pets that had been rescued. The trainer doing the show said that she loves the parrots she works with very much and they’re very fun, interesting, intelligent creatures but she would not recommend parrots as pets because they’re very demanding and require a lot of work. They live a long time and are like 2-year-olds that never age. My parents might say the same thing about me.

As we exited Theater of the Sea my father commented that it was a tourist trap. I couldn’t really disagree with him there but it was a fun tourist trap. I told my dad I was hungry and he suggested having a meal of soda, cheese and crackers in the car. At first I protested but when he pointed out that since I’d thrown up the previous night, stopping at McDonalds might not be the best idea, I agreed. It actually wasn’t a bad meal.

The hotel we checked in to on the way to Miami was right on the water and had a lovely view. Once we’d settled in the next order of business was obtaining dinner.Unfortunately for us the grocery stores and restaurants were all several miles away. We were originally going to obtain dinner at a Walgreens but when my father noticed a dollar store next door he decided we might as well get the best possible bargain on our dinner. I was skeptical of his ability to obtain an adequate dinner at the dollar store but he managed to do pretty well for us. Okay, I know most people would not consider yogurt, saltines and popsicles to be an adequate dinner but it was enough to satisfy me at that point. Those popsicles were good. (And let me tell you, on the way out of that dollar store I noticed the strangest looking books I’ve ever seen.)

That night as I fell asleep the moon over the water and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore set a scene of beauty, peacefulness and tranquility. The sound of my father snoring like a chainsaw did not. My father then had the nerve to complain to Gabrielle about her cough, which he deemed to be so unappealing and disgusting. The next morning when I told my father that my Kindle was broken he said it was my fault because I’d left it on the floor and someone must have stepped on it.

I’d had enough of my father blaming Gabrielle and me for our problems so I snapped. I said “It’s a good thing you’re a medical scientist rather than a practicing doctor because the patients that came to you would be blamed and shamed for their illnesses. ‘Hey, patient with a stomach bug, you vomited because you ate too much! Hey, patient with bronchitis, that cough of yours is so unappealing and disgusting! Hey, patient with a broken leg, you shouldn’t have been so careless’!” My father couldn’t help but laugh and acknowledge that I had a point.

Later that morning my father approached me and asked me if he was a good father. “Yes, of course you’re a good father” I replied.

“Then why were you complaining to your mother about me on the phone?”

“Because you have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on. Most of the time you’re Dr. Jekyll but lately Mr. Hyde has been coming out. It would be nice to see less Hyde and more Jekyll from you for the rest of this vacation.”

My father agreed to try to keep Mr. Hyde in check in Miami.

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