Thiele's Vanity Session

Thiele’s Vanity Session

The other day while I was in the chimp kitchen working on a project with the interns, I saw Thiele climbing down the steps to the bottom floor of the Playhouse. On her way down, she came across an old compact mirror someone had donated. She opened it up and stared intently at her reflection, ruffling her brow, pursing her lips, sticking out her tongue. She turned her head to one side and then to the other, held the mirror out to see her whole face and then brought it right up close so only her eyes were reflected. She held the mirror beneath her nose and tilted her head up so she could explore the insides of her nostrils; she bared her teeth and batted her eyelashes, squinted into the mirror and then opened her eyes wide. Then she looked up and realized that all three of us were watching her, staring just as intently at her as she had been staring at her reflection. She shook her head and grunted (her characteristic sign of dismissal), grabbed a blanket and climbed slowly back up the steps. I leaned close to the Playhouse window and looked up to the top floor, and saw Thiele settle herself down, tuck the blanket around her, and bring the mirror back up to her face. I guess I can’t blame her for wanting some privacy.

– Rachel Bronstein, Caregiver