Like most kids, my son loves monkeys. He's got monkeys on his clothes, monkeys in his books, monkey bath toys. He even has his own stuffed monkey, which to my chagrin is named Patrick (more on that in a second). It's funny because since he was born we've been offering up all sorts of sacrificial stuffed animals, wondering which one he’d bond with. Okay, that sounds dramatic, but we gave him all sorts of animals and he never cared one way or another. Then one day at the store with his mom she said he just latched onto this monkey and wouldn't let go. Since then they've been inseparable. Which is fine, but…
We were passing by the monkey cage, and I was pretty excited because what’s more fun than a bunch of monkey’s swinging around a giant cage? If you’d asked me just before we arrived at the monkey cage, I would have said nothing at all, nothing beats monkeys swinging around in cages.
So there we were, with a few other families having a Q & A with one of the staff members. I crouched down to Simon, pointing and laughing at the monkeys doing their thing. His little face lit up and I felt like a great dad because he was getting a kick out of the whole deal while I made funnies and teased, cracking jokes to the other adults about how my kid was kind of a monkey himself at this point in his life.
Being such a comedian, I didn’t notice that one of the monkeys, a Mini-Kong sort named Patrick, was all sorts of worked up. Maybe he didn't like my material, because he started barking and swaying, clutching the cage and showing off a fine set of pearly whites. The staff member leaned towards us, all smiles and professionalism, telling me that uh, well, he was upset with me.
We find that Patrick doesn’t like certain men.
I laughed, smacking my knee. Good stuff, that's rich, lady. But then I looked at my wife and noticed everyone staring at me. And then, as if he hadn't gotten his point across, this guy starts beating his chest, snarling and glaring directly at me. He was really making a scene, hooting and hollering, doing everything short of pointing and challenging me to a loser leave town match.
I looked back to the worker.
Oh, you mean men as in me?
Very good, she nodded. I stood up, blushing and took a few steps back. Patrick grasped his cage and continued barking while my son mimicked him.
Hoo Hoo Haw Haw. Eek Eeeek Eeeek!!!
Great, my son was literally and figuratively looking up to a monkey. Everyone stared right at me. I’m not the kind of guy who likes having enemies. I like to be liked. I whispered to my wife,
I wonder why he doesn’t like me?
My wife put a finger to her chin in thought. Hmm, tall and gangly, with disproportionally long arms….I don’t know why he doesn’t like Daddy, Simon…
With that, we turned and walked, my kid still mimicking his new best friend, upset and confused with why we were leaving the monkeys. Meanwhile, Patrick continued to go ape sh---uh berserk until I was out of sight, leaving the crowd pointing and talking about the guy the monkey didn’t like.
We moved on to the giraffes, where I had much better luck.
So now Simon’s little stuffed monkey has been named Patrick, as a reminder of some closed minded monkey who felt threatened. Now sure, the flip side is that how would you feel if you lived in a cage and people gawked at you all day. Well that's not my fault now is it, Patrick. You know, this has me thinking, I need to make another trip up to that park for a heart to heart with old Patrick. I mean, surely there must be some way we can work out our differences, right?