I was on a cruise ship standing next to Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
He was holding the new Dr. Seuss book What Pet Should I Get and looking adorable in The Cat in the Hat’s signature red and white striped hat.
I, myself, was in a matching red and white Dr. Seuss ensemble complete with dress, purse, bow tie and headband I had made just days before. All of my friends were there. Thing 1 & 2, Sam I Am, and of course, The Cat in the Hat.
It was a librarian dream come true. Had Evan’s girlfriend not been standing only a few feet away, it could have been my wedding day. I was that happy! Not because I have a crush on Longoria, but because he read to me. A guy I admire mostly for his athletic skills on the field, had picked up a book, and read it.
Sometimes that’s all it takes…READING!
But this wasn’t just any book or any cruise ship. It was the first Dr. Seuss book in 25 years, and the ship was Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise, the only cruise line with the exclusive Seuss at Sea program. I tell you, for this Rays/Dr. Seuss fan, it was awesome. Now add in the hundred or so kids from summer camp, the rescue dogs from the SPCA and a Green Eggs and Ham brunch, and it was indeed paradise.
I also learned that Longoria doesn’t just read well, he gives well too. He’s giving $100 to Pet Pal Animal Shelter for every home run he hits during the rest of the 2015 season and Carnival Cruise Line is going to match it. Plus the cruise line also donated $5,000 to the Tampa Bay chapter of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), all because of one special book.
Yes, let’s get back to the book.
Like a lot of book lovers, librarians, and Dr. Seuss fans, I had been eagerly awaiting the release of What Pet Should I Get by the one and only Ted Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, a book found in 2013 by his wife Audrey and his former-secretary Claudia Prescott in a box filled with the manuscript and finished line art, and all devoted to pets!
As a former-pet owner, whose black tuxedo cat (creatively named Tuxedo), passed away almost 10 years ago, I had been pondering the idea of adopting a new cat, but as a result of my busy schedule and inconsistent financial situation, I’d been hesitating and obviously making excuses. I just knew if anybody had the answers, it was Dr. Seuss.
Finally July 28th had arrived and I was sitting at my local Barnes & Noble in St. Petersburg with the new book in my lap, three dogs from Reading Paws resting at my feet, and a large audience of parents and kids, excited to hear me read it. As I turned each page after colorful page, I continued to hope that Seuss would indeed speak to my heart through his clever rhyming words, telling me just What Pet Should I Get!
Now I won’t spoil the ending of the book, but I will tell you what truly makes this book special is the information included after the story, mostly about Theodor Seuss Geisel/Dr. Seuss, the responsibilities of owning pets, and the importance of adoption from shelters and rescue organizations. Seeing photos of Dr. Seuss reviewing his manuscripts alongside his dogs is a glimpse at a man who loved animals so much that even after he is gone, the animals he created in his books, continue to bring us joy. He gives back.
And that’s when I knew just what pet I should get.
A giant sea turtle.
No, two. ... Three. Nine!
So, every Tuesday, I am a volunteer at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where I work in the sea turtle rehab department and get to hang out and care for my “pets” Bailey, Stubby, Harold, Madam, Max, Rob, Titus, Ula and Cupid. In caring for these beautiful marine animals, who are permanent residents at the aquarium as a result of injuries that prevent them from returning to the wild, it is an opportunity for someone with limited time and finances like me, to still share my love for animals but without the long-term and often expensive commitment. While I still hope to adopt a cat one day, for now I have a Cat in the Hat standee that greets me when I come home from the aquarium. And he doesn’t require a litter box!
For information and reservations about Carnival Cruise Line and their Seuss at Sea program, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.
To volunteer or visit the sea turtles at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, check out seewinter.com.
To cheer on Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays, visit tampabay.rays.mlb.com.
Meredith Myers, the "Stand-Up Librarian," has a Masters degree in Library & Information Sciences from USF and has been performing stand-up comedy since 2002 after checking out a comedy book from her local library. Binding her experiences in comedy and libraries, she created StandUpLibrarian.com in 2010 to educate and entertain people about the importance of libraries and literacy through literary comedy shows that she performs at libraries and book events across the country. In 2012, she launched Stand-Up Librarian Designs, creating literary fashions inspired by her favorite books and authors that she sells at her shows and Etsy shop. Meredith also works as a cataloging librarian and is a volunteer for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a contributing writer for Creative Loafing Tampa.