Tag Archives: Marine Biologist

Zippy The Changing Man

I’ve seen him laughing, crying and howling. I’ve even seen him dead.

Fortunately, he was only playing dead as part of a film project while away at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Today is the day we celebrate every single aspect of the young man known to one and probably that’s all (known to me, of course) as Zippy the Travelin’ Boy.

Yep. It’s another birthday. This time, my middle not-so-little dude is leaving the teens behind and venturing into his 20s. It’s a bit of a shock to see the literal little handful, who had the most amazing head of thick, black hair when he was born, now grown into a young man who towers over his dad.

Zippy the Monkey BoyZippy the Travelin’ Boy has always been the most mutable of our sons. He’s gone through fashion statements (I’ll never forget the violent 180˚ turn he made from surfer punk to cowboy), loves, hates, political perspectives and just about everything else in his life as if he were in a fire sale at a department store and he needed to try on the clothing before it disappeared.

He’s been a bit of a chameleon, is what I’m trying to say. Oddly, considering he took so long to actually speak both understandably and out loud as a child, he’s probably the most verbally accomplished of the three dudes.

By which I mean that he’s always been the type to try out different accents and verbal tics and patterns, sort of like me. I started out early as well. As a young kid, I lived in England and got teased for being an American. So I developed a deep Southern accent, which came in handy when we moved back to Texas. However, as I grew older and started playing football, my teachers assumed I was an idiot because of the accent and the football so they expected nothing from me.

I didn’t like that. So I decided to drop the Southern accent and did, beginning to speak in a bland, newscaster-ish accent. To me, it was easy, but I learned that other people have a hard time doing that. I thought I was unique.

Until Zippy the Travelin’ Boy came into his own. He began copying the various accents I used when I read aloud to the boys and then doing better at them. He started mimicking the unusual voices he heard on television and in the movies, doing a stunningly accurate Bane voice that always cracks me up.

His latest chameleon turn came when he hit college. Since he was 2 and able to mispronounce it relatively consistently, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy (then known as Zippy the Monkey Boy both for his climbing skill and love of animals) wanted to become a marine biologist. Until he hit campus and discovered he would actually have to work and learn to earn that degree.

At which point, he discovered acting and fell in love. Since he wanted to make a living once he graduated, he decided to major in psychology while minoring in both Spanish and theater performance. It’s been fascinating to watch his ambition and skill flower in this new environment.

Whenever we talk about it, his mother and I are smiling like fools.

Which hasn’t always been the case. As he was growing up, I would only have given Zippy the Travelin’ Boy break-even odds that I would let him live to adulthood. He was the most stubborn kid I’d ever met and almost never used those powers for good.

Fortunately for us all, I was able to restrain those homicidal urges and even filled in the suspiciously shallow grave I dug on the sly in the back yard. He’s still stubborn and more than a little of a know-it-all, but he’s learning to actually listen to people with different opinions and has actually been known to listen to the advice from others without disdain.

All of which makes for a great opponent when I want to have an argument or refine my own opinion by seeing how it holds up in combat. His quick wit and merciless attack posture are the ultimate test of survivability.

As much as I enjoyed snuggling with the little dude when he was, in fact, little, I’m finding that I’m enjoying even more being around the young man he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. We love you!

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Zombie Proof

by Richard

So, here I am on the road again for yet another college road trip. This is my second in two years, which means it’s time to cruise different colleges with Zippy the Monkey Boy.

Naturally, considering he’s wanted to be a marine biologist since he was two (and, no, I’m not kidding), his first, second and third choice of college is the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. It’s where we’ve been for the past couple of days.

He was at the MarineQuest camp, which lets Zippy the Monkey Boy and everybody else at the camp learn about all the different aspects of marine science through hands-on experiments, field trips and classroom time, for the last two weeks. I picked him up on Friday and we’ve spent the last couple of days goofing off in Wilmington while we wait for the college to open again and start giving academic tours.

That’s fine. I get that. He wants to see what the school really has to offer, as opposed to seeing only what he’d see as a fun-time camper here on the campus.

What’s killing me is his criteria for selecting other schools to look at. You see, these are the only schools he wants to go visit and they all have one thing in common: They’re within 1.5 hours, by driving, from the beach. Yes, that’s right.

The way we picked which schools to visit was to sit down with a map of the United States which lists all the colleges. Figure out the distance from the beach and then draw a line at his demarcation zone. Anything to the right of the line he was willing to take a look at. Dudes, I think that’s crazy.

Zippy the Monkey Boy, however, thinks its pure genius. Which is where the title of this post comes in. Zombies want brains. I’m thinking Zippy the Monkey Boy is more than safe. Considering his selection criteria, I’m pretty sure his brains have gone on permanent walkabout. No zombies are coming after him.

Still, it should be interesting. We’re going to be checking out UNCW, East Carolina University (which wasn’t technically on the right side of the line, but I insisted and then lied to Zippy about where it was located ((hey, I’m a parent. That’s my privilege))), College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University and Georgia Southern. So, basically, it looks like we’re going to be taking a tour of colleges located in small(ish) towns with nothing much else there.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a report on UNCW.

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What I Learned Over Summer Vacation

by Richard

A couple of weeks ago, Zippy the Monkey Boy went to a special sleep-away camp at the University of North Carolina Wilmington for budding marine biologists and marine scientists. He was thrilled. He’s wanted to be a marine biologist since he was 2 years old and he hasn’t wavered since.

So, yeah. His mom and I thought it would be a great experience for him to have. He’d get a chance to rub elbows with actual marine scientists, do some actual research and meet other kids with similar interests from around the country.

We expected him to come home brimming with urgent messages, cool facts and an even more burning desire to see his life spread before him off the bow of a boat.

Begin digression. While at the camp the little dudes and dudettes studied a little Linnaean classification. That’s the system by which scientists break down what families and species different animals and plants belong to. You know, mankind is known as homo sapiens, or thinking man.  End digression.

So, that’s what we thought we’d have: a Zippy the Monkey Boy who was bouncing off the walls and eager to learn. When I picked him up, I asked him what was the coolest thing that he’d learned.

“Did you know,” he asked, “that the scientific classification for the mountain gorilla is gorilla gorilla gorilla?”

Me: Um, no.

Him: It is.

Me: What else did you learn?

Him: Ihuengena. You know?

Me: Beats head against steering wheel.

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