Friday, May 19, 2017

Living With Monkeys

Here's a bit of madness I wrote many years ago and totally forgot about until just now.

It's at times like this that I am reminded of my time living with monkeys in the Wilds of New Jersey. I traveled with a brilliant team of experts. There was Sandy, the world's foremost authority on the religious writings of C. S. Lewis. Bernard, who held a master's degree from North Hampton Barber College. Little Susie (age 5) who knew an awful lot about unicorns. And Professor Thinkalot, who turned out to be just a cartoon drawing in a book called "All About Monkeys For Kids." In retrospect, it might have been beneficial to invite somebody who knew something about monkeys or, at the very least, had seen one before.

Well, you know what they say: Hindsight's twenty-twenty.

My crack team assembled, we set off for the Wilds of New Jersey. We traveled across vast oceans, sweltering jungles, and scalding deserts before we realized we were going entirely the wrong direction and had to catch a flight out of Africa back to the States. From my seat on the plane, I could see through the window and into the trees, where a tiny creature of some kind was eating a banana playfully. It would be sixteen years before I realized that this was a monkey and that Africa was actually full of monkeys whereas the place we were headed had practically no monkeys at all.

Again, hindsight's twenty-twenty.

The passage from Africa was difficult. Shortly after the flight began, they ran out of peanuts. This was largely due to the fact that I personally had eaten them all just prior to takeoff for entirely valid reasons which I have now forgotten. What with everybody being really angry with me and not wanting to speak to me, it was a long and uncomfortable flight. Of course the full extent of the anger the other passengers felt toward me was not made apparent to me until the engines caught fire and the plane started to go down. You would think that, even after the bit with the peanuts (for which, may I remind you, I had a very good reason even though I can no longer remember what it was), that someone would at least have woken me up to tell me we were crashing. In a way I have to admire their commitment to hating me.

Two years later, I learned what had happened to the rest of my team: Sandy, foreseeing such a contingency, had bailed out with a homemade parachute and made it back home before dinner. Bernard was killed in the crash, but still writes me sometimes. And Susie was fine because, as it turned out, she was never even with us owing to the fact that her parents had not given her permission to come on our expotition. This doesn't explain why I bought so many kids meals and ice creams during the trip. Unless of course had been eating them which, now I come to think of it, is probably what happened.

Anyhoo, I woke up in the smoldering wreckage of the plane. Everybody else had been rescued and were on their way home, but I was left alone on the island. You might think a setback like this would discourage me from continuing on my journey, but you'd be wrong to think that, you idiot! I was determined to live among the monkeys now more than ever.

I was able to live quite comfortably on the island for much longer than I expected. Four days later, however, I was ready to get the hell off of there. It was then that I remembered the airline safety presentation which neither I nor anybody else had paid any attention to. As if from a great distance, the words of the insufficiently pretty flight attendant came back to me: "Your seat cushion may also be used as a flotation device." Remembering this little tidbit of information, and utilizing all three hundred of the plane's seats, I was able to cobble together a crude yet serviceable luxury yacht which, I reasoned, would at least do until I could be picked up by a better ship.

The "better ship" turned out to be a catamaran piloted by a Japanese man who only spoke Polish. I was, however, through crude sign language and the even cruder translation app on my cell phone (with which I guess I could have called for help ages ago, but we've already talked about hindsight), I was able to explain my plight to him and he was more than happy to take me to New Jersey in exchange for my assistance, companionship, and $250,000 (Canadian). In what seemed like a week and four days, we had arrived at New Jersey. I thanked the Catamaranian profusely, turned and ran from the cursed ocean, just making out what I later discovered was the Polish for "Hey, where the hell is my money?" before I lost sight of my rescuer forever.

My victory was, unfortunately, doomed to be short-lived. Having arrived in Newark, I immediately set forth to find the monkeys I had been so anxious to live amongst ever since that guy dared me to in that dream I had after mixing NyQuil and DayQuil that one time. I think it was Charles Nelson Reilly, but I can't be sure. In any case, this is the point in my story when I discovered how rare monkeys are in New Jersey. Was this the end? Was it all for naught? Was my life's ambition to be thwarted by such trifling matters as "logic" and "reality?"

NAY! Nay, I say! I say "Nay!"

For it was while I was lamenting the abysmal decision-making which had led me to this point that I stepped off the curb and into traffic without looking. I was struck almost immediately by a green Hyundai. When I opened my eyes there was a very sexy nurse looking down at me like a slightly dirty angel, smiling as she saw me regain consciousness. "I'm so glad you're feeling better, Mr. Johansen," she said, stroking my hand as she did so. I was feeling pretty good about things when I said, "My name's not Johansen." "Oh," said the nurse. "Sorry, wrong room." And she left, to be replaced by a rather fat, dumpy male nurse who didn't seem at all pleased that I was feeling better.

But luck was still with me at last, because the man who had hit me with his car felt terrible about putting me in the hospital and offered to let me stay with him and his family until I got my strength back. Barely daring to believe my good fortune, I asked what his last name was. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to live among the Monkies (Charles Monkie, Sharon Monkie and their kids, Josh and Aaron Monkie) in the Wilds of New Jersey!


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