Fifteen Things to Do With a Llama in New York City

A llama in Times Square, New York City. Photo by Inge Morath, 1957.

1) Take it to Katz’s, ask for a plate of lettuce. When the guy behind the counter gets pissy offer to pay double and then order an egg cream and a pastrami sandwich. Don’t let the llama drink any of the egg cream. Gives ’em the trots. Eat the sandwich. Assure the llama he doesn’t know anybody in the salamis behind the counter. Probably. Be convincing. Llamas hold a grudge.

2) Take him to the Central Park Zoo. Tell him he’d better behave on this trip or you’re gonna sell him to the petting zoo. Be ignored. Llamas don’t speak English, dummy. Buy him a pretzel and an I Heart New York shirt. Don’t make him wear it. He bites.

3) Stop gendering the llama. Maybe it’s a girl. Make the pronoun in the next several entries “she.” Buy the llama more lettuce so that it doesn’t get cranky.

4) Take her on the Staten Island Ferry, point out the Statue of Liberty and tell her all about Ellis Island and how people used to get to this country on steamships. Realize the llama still doesn’t give a shit because she still doesn’t speak English. More lettuce.

5) Stretch this list out because you titled it fifteen before you started running out of ideas.

6) Listen to the guys on the Staten Island Ferry talk about the llama.

“Is that a fuckin’ alpaca?”

“Nah, that’s a donkey.”

“It’s not a donkey. It’s a fuckin’ alpaca. My wife knits, bro. I should fuckin’ know.”

Inform them that it’s a llama. They’ll argue with you and tell you it’s a camel. Tell them it’s really an Afghan hound. They’ll ask you what their grandma’s old blankets have to do with the wild animal who has just stolen an old man’s cap and is running around the ferry with him in enraged, limping pursuit.

7) Get the hat back for the old man. Careful. The llama bites, remember? So does the old man.

8) Take the llama on a cab ride around New York City, tell her to pretend you’re both in a submarine and she’s the periscope. Tell her to watch out for Russian submarines. Tell her all the public buses are Russian submarines. Expect her to freak out about how big the Russian submarines are and how many are on the road with you, but remember the llama still doesn’t speak any English other than “snack.”

9) Take the llama to the Empire State building and suggest you visit the observation deck. Tell the llama the elevator is broken and you’ll have to take the stairs. The llama will snort and toss its head. You’re learning to speak llama. This is llama for “fuck you.” Wonder if the llama is learning to speak English.

10) Realize you’ve made a huge error when you see the police officers at the top of the deck. One of them shouts. Make a daring escape through the building, down stairs and elevators and service lifts, the llamas hooves clip-clopping on the linoleum floors.

11) The police are after you. Find one of them alone and command the llama to take the cop out. Have you ever seen a llama head butt a guy? A llama uses his whole neck and since its brain is about the size of a prematurely born walnut, there’s a lot of skull to hit with. Take off the cop’s vest and his gun. Strap the vest onto the llama. You don’t want your llama getting shot, do you? Keep the gun. You’re going to need it.

12) Storm the nearest bank. Tell people the llama is a camel and member of Al Qaeda and is thus not fucking around. As the people stream out of the bank, prepare to make your stand in the back. Try to pull the llama behind cover, but realize that even laying down, its head sticks up above the counter. Realize that you have a serious logistical problem and move the llama behind a pillar.

13) When the cops line up outside scream “You’ll never take me alive, pigs!” Poke the llama and get it to bray at them. That bray is llama for “Que nunca me toma vivo, puercos!” Perhaps the llama would understand you better if you spoke Spanish. Realize that in this era of globalization, there is no guarantee that the llama is from South America at all. Even if he is, he might only speak Quechua.

14) Scream at the llama, “Stay here, I’m gonna make my last stand!”

The llama will say “Okay, bro.”

In confusion as to whether the llama learned English or you learned llama, run out to confront the police in a hail of gunfire. Get shot.

15) As they’re loading what’s left of you on a stretcher to take you to Bellevue Hospital, overhear one cop say to another: “Is that a camel or what?”

“I think it’s an ostrich.”

Call out, “It’s a fucking, llama!” Expire in peace, your mission is completed.

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