“NAAAAAAANSTINGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!” I belted the opening lyrics of The Lion King into my dad’s face when he announced he was taking us on safari. At 78, he was hardly a crypt-keeper—no walker with tennis balls, no real aversion to drafts, nary a cataract in sight. In fact, he recently got his first tattoo. But he wanted to see “the big five” (rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, and elephant) with his grandchildren before he hit octogenarian territory, so off to Africa we went.

Two small things: I’m not into sun or animals. My complexion is what some people might call “ass white,” but I prefer “cadaver chic.” And regarding furry friends, I’m no Cruella de Vil, tap dancing on a zebra rug or sporting a Dalmatian coat. I just don’t go ballistic over Nat Geo.