VOL. 131 | NO. 141 | Friday, July 15, 2016
To Zoo. Zooed. Zooing.
By Dan Conaway
YOU’VE BEEN ZOOED. That headline is indicative of the last few months. In fact, it’s the indicative present perfect usage of the new verb this city has created.
Infinitive: to zoo. Participle: zooed. Gerund: zooing.
It’s always been easier for me to understand English meaning and grammar when I see the word in use. For instance, when the Memphis Zoo was first allowed to claim any of the Old Forest to satisfy their appetite for new exhibits – without public input – we should have seen that as the first use of the verb in present tense:
To zoo you out of as much of Overton Park as they can get.
When they were first allowed to park on, tear up and deny free public use of a third of the Overton Park Greensward and charge us to do it, that’s an example of the use of the verb in indicative past tense:
You were zooed.
When they claimed doing even more of that to even more public space as their inalienable right and used the might of money and power to manipulate public officials and opinion to that end, that was a stunning use of indicative past tense continuous:
You were being zooed again.
For simpler usage, when Chuck Brady (aka, his board) claimed to need 600 spaces and only for 60 days, when Allan Wade (aka, Council hit man) unbelievably made paying to park on free public land a civil rights issue, when all of the above said they would honor the mediation process, that’s simple past tense:
They were simply zooing with you.
In fact, the refusal of the Memphis Zoo to participate in the comprehensive planning process for parking and park ingress and egress, their roaring hubris supported by phony studies and manufactured numbers, their growling response to the mayor’s more-than-reasonable compromise proposal, and the elephant-size arrogance they trumpet almost daily is simple future tense:
They will be zooing you over and over.
The Memphis Zoo has had a special place in my heart and memory since almost the first of my memories as a lifelong Memphian, and it has come to occupy that same place in the hearts of my children and grandchildren.
That’s why the bunch running it now, and the people they run, are breaking our collective heart and our city’s right now, burning a century of goodwill like a big trash fire on the greensward, declaring their self-interest to be the public’s interest, their paid attraction to be more important than our city’s free public spaces, the green of their monied interests to be our only legal green.
If we allow the mayor’s reasoned plan and the endorsement of the Overton Park Conservancy, Overton Park Alliance, and the zoo’s own representative in mediation to be ignored or molded into the zoo’s image, then, again in grammatical parlance, we will be the subject of indicative future perfect tense:
We will have been totally zooed.
I’m a Memphian, and I say zoo that.
Dan Conaway, a communication strategist and author of “I’m a Memphian,” can be reached at email@example.com.