(I don't own anything, and we can thank America's Funniest Home Videos for this little plot bunny…)
Berger was sitting on the couch waiting for his daughter to get home from school. They had her in a carpool type situation only it was a walking pool since they lived in the middle of New York. He still couldn't believe that at 34 years old he was in a committed relationship and had a child who was now old enough for school.
When Claude came home from Viet Nam, they decided to give their relationship a steady go just the two of them. Claude told him of the orphanages he'd visited while overseas and how it broke his heart to see so many kids displaced as he put it to Berger, 'You and I chose to be on our own at 17, these kids, the babies they didn't choose anything.' Berger couldn't help but agree with him. It took the couple 3 years to adopt a child, they were chosen by a fellow hippie who was from San Francisco to be the parents. Both men decided due to their mutual love of literature which actually surprised a lot of people about Berger. They named their baby girl Kathryn Scarlett after the heroine in Gone with the Wind, but called her Katy.
Berger worked as a book agent reading manuscripts trying to find the next big thing, while Claude taught literature at the local Jr. High.
"PAPA!" Said Katy barging in the door.
"Hey Sweetheart, how was school?"
"Good, Mrs. Summers said we were going to the zoo at the end of the month and she needs chap…shap…chaperonies."
"Yeah those." The kid was 7 and could amuse him to no end. "Can you and Daddy go?"
"Why don't you ask Daddy when he gets home, but I don't see why not."
"Here's the paper."
"Okay, I'll take a look at it why don't you go change into play clothes and we'll head down to the park when Daddy gets here."
"Okay, but Papa don't tell him 'bout the chaperoni thing I want to."
"Okay, I won't. Now go change." Said Berger with a smile.
When Claude got home a few minutes later the scene that greeted him made him smile, Berger sitting on the couch with Katy showing him her day's creations.
"So what are we looking at?" He asked making his presence known.
"Are we going to the park? Papa told me to change so we could go when you got home."
"Well let me change and then we'll go."
"Okay, but hurry or the swings will all be gone, because of the big kids."
"You got it."
Claude was ready in jeans and a tee shirt a short time later and the family headed to Central Park.
"Can you be a chaperoni?"
"What?" He asked with a laugh as Berger laughed beside him.
"She means chaperone, her class is going to the zoo on the 30th, and they need chaperones I didn't think it would be a problem, but I told her to ask you." Explained Berger.
"I will ask work if I can, but I don't see why not."
"Okay. Can I go play now?"
"Go, but stay where we can see you." Said Berger.
"Chaperoni?" Asked Claude with a smile.
"Hey when she asked me she couldn't even get the word out."
"I'll call Jane when we get back to the house."
"Good cause I don't think she'll sleep without an answer."
The men let Katy play for a couple hours before heading home for dinner and Claude to call his boss.
"Jane, its Claude Bukowski, how are you?"
"I'm good, what's up?"
"My daughter's class has a field trip on the 30th."
"Say no more have a good time."
"Yeah, me, Berger, and 20 hyper 7 year olds."
"You love it." Said Jane.
"You in?" Asked Berger.
"I'm in." He said as Berger signed the permission slip and handed it to him to sign his name.
The next two weeks flew by and now was the day for the field trip.
"Come on! We're going to be late! They'll leave without us!" Said Katy anxiously.
"Katy! Calm down, they won't leave without us, and even if they did we live 4 blocks away, we'll make it." Said Claude starting to lose his never ending patience.
"Plus, you've been to this zoo before many times." Said Berger finishing with his still long hair.
"No buts you heard Daddy."
Katy knew she couldn't win so she stopped and waiting not so patiently for Claude and Berger to finish getting ready.
"Okay lets go." Said Claude.
"Finally." Said Katy.
"Isn't she the one I usually have to bribe out of bed." Said Berger.
"Before or after I bribe you?" Asked Claude with a smile.
"Haha, very funny."
The family arrived at school and were greeted by Mrs. Summers.
"Mr. Bukowski, Mr. Berger welcome I was surprised you both could make it, I usually get one parent from each family not both."
"Katy asked we came." Said Berger.
"Great, well I was thinking I would give you 8 kids, 4 each is that too many?"
"No that's fine." Said Berger used to large groups especially after their times with the Tribe.
"Now I wasn't sure if you guys wanted Katy with you for the day or in someone else's group?"
"We'll let her decide." Said Claude. "Katy?"
"Come here." Katy walked over and looked up at Claude who actually knelt down to her level. "Mrs. Summers wants to know if you want to be in mine and Papa's group or with one of the other parents?"
"Okay, go back and play."
"Okay." Said Katy skipping back over to her friends.
"Great now that all that is settled can you do me a favor?"
"Sure." Said Berger.
"I got a late start today, could you guys make name tags while I get class started?"
"Yeah." Said Claude.
"Great, here is the class list, and can you do first names only?" Said Mrs. Summers handing them the markers and tags.
"You do 10, I do 10." Said Berger.
A couple minutes into the small project which found the guys sitting at the smallest table they had ever seen, Claude noticed you really couldn't read the names on Berger's tags.
"Berger, you can't read any of these." Said Claude with a quiet laugh.
"Yes you can."
"Really? What does that say?"
"You have horrible handwriting."
"Seriously after 20 years you just realized this?"
"Well thank you."
After the other parents arrived most of who were the mothers they all headed to the zoo. They went on a guided tour of the place, which bored all the parents to no end, that by the time they got to the gorilla cage Woof and Crissy had unofficially joined them in walking around. The zoo keeper was explaining what the gorillas ate when Katy noticed them doing something strange in her eyes.
"What are the gorillas doing?"
"Oh…flowers." Said Claude remembering where he was.
"Um, well they're playing Sweetheart." Said Berger. "Hey Jo?"
"Your friends are putting on a show not great for 6 and 7 year olds."
"What? OH MY GOD!"
"Thank you." Said Claude covering Katy and Brian's eyes, while Berger, Crissy, and Woof helped with the other kids in their group."
"Johnny! Sally and Henry are getting it on stop them!" Said Jo to one of the other keepers.
"Yeah right I almost lost a hand yesterday, just move your group."
"Okay, come on everyone let's go see the elephants." All the parents tried to guide their groups away, Berger started laughing as Julie one of the moms was trying to move 4 kids and trying not to look herself that he almost missed Claude walking Katy and Brian into a trash can.
"You okay Claudio?"
"But what were they doing Daddy?"
"They were having grown up time Katy."
"Like when you and Papa lock your door?" That stopped Berger in his tracks and made Woof and Crissy crack up.
"Who called it grown up time when we lock the door?" Asked Claude shooting glares at Crissy and Woof to stop laughing which just made them laugh harder.
"Auntie Jeanie and Auntie Sheila."
"Don't listen to them. They haven't had grown up time in a while."
"Berger! Keep in mind 7 of these kids aren't ours." Said Claude looking at the sky trying to figure out how to explain anything.
Thankfully for all involved the trip soon came to an end and Berger and Claude decided to just go home from the park since Mrs. Summers asked them to. They split their group among the other parents and headed home with Katy. A few hours later they received a phone call from Mrs. Summers.
"Hi this is Mrs. Summers is this Claude or George?" Berger cringed at his first name.
"It's George Mrs. Summers."
"Oh well I was calling to inform you gentlemen your chaperoning skills won't be needed anymore this year."
"What do you mean?"
"Well besides the fact your friends showed up and stayed for a long period of time and your inappropriate conversation at the gorilla cage. The other parents have asked that you guys not chaperone anymore."
"I understand Mrs. Summers. Thank you. Have a good night."
"You too. Good night."
Berger hung up the kitchen phone and joined Claude in the living room.
"Who was on the phone?"
"We've been asked not to chaperone anymore this year, by her and the other parents."
"Why?" Asked Claude.
"Because Woof and Crissy showed up and our small talk by the gorilla cage."
"Our kid asked a question I wasn't going to lie to her." Said Claude.
"Babe, I know. Now who's going to tell Katy we can't chaperone anymore." Asked Berger.
"Auntie Jeanie and Auntie Sheila." Said Claude.
"We chaperoned once for a group of 7 year olds and asked never to again, we are awesome parents." Said Berger.
"Wanna have some grown up time?" Asked Claude. Katy was with Crissy for the night.
"Lead the way, Darling." Said Berger as he and Claude made their way to their room and locked the door.