I was thinking about monkeys today, as I'm sure you do often, too, and I started to feel a little resentful.
There were two things I KNEW as child that were going to be true when I grew up: I was going to marry Bobby Sherman and I was going to have a monkey. I sort of gave up on the Bobby Sherman thing when David Cassidy came along, but I always figured I'd have monkey. Here I am careening towards middle age (shut up) and I still don't have a monkey.
Now to understand this (actually you probably will never understand it), it wasn't SO far fetched to have a monkey when I was a kid. You could actually go to the pet store and buy one. When my mother would grocery shop, she would send me over to the pet store next door to entertain myself. (And no kids, this doesn't harken back to the simpler, older days when children could roam at will and be safe. Our parents knew all about child abductions and stranger danger, they just didn't care. They had more kids back in those days, and they were tired.) Anyway, I would go over to the pet shop and the man there would let me feed the monkey treats through the bars. It never occurred to me that this was something special. I thought when you grew up, got a house, married Bobby Sherman, you got a monkey if you wanted one. I couldn't wait.
Also, monkeys at the zoo where not as separated from the public as they are now. There was none of this, Lets build a fake jungle and put it behind glass so the monkey doesn't know it's in a zoo. THEY KNOW, PEOPLE. Monkeys were in cages, like respectable zoo animals. They had tires to swing on if they were lucky. I remember one zoo were the monkey had a can on a pulley and you could put peanuts in it and he would reel it in. THAT'S entertainment.
Once, when my older sister went to Fitzgeralds' Fabric Store in Weymouth, she took me and left me to play on the swings outside. (Sisters didn't care about stranger danger in those days, either.) The Fitzgeralds had a little house out back. The little girl of the family came out and played with me awhile, then asked me if I wanted to go in her house. I, too, knew all about stranger danger, but, well...she asked me. So I went in, and the house was FULL of exotic animals. I don't remember too much, but I think there were birds and lizards, and great googly moogly, a CHIMPANZEE sitting on their sofa. I kid you not. It was sitting there like a member of the family. This all made sense to me. They were a normal family who had a monkey, like you were supposed to. ( I know now that chimps are apes, but I was 6 or something, give me a break.) The reason that my family, and for that matter no one I knew, had monkeys was because they were weird. Normal families had monkeys, obviously. When I finally met up with my sister again (I don't think she noticed I was gone.) I don't think I even mentioned the chimpanzee to her. In my little mind, it was nothing special. Of course they had a monkey, that's what you do.
I think I know what might have started this particular neurosis:
My sister gave me this a few days after my third birthday, when I was going into the hospital. She bought it at Liggett's Drug Store, where she worked. I remember her giving it to me. If I closed my eyes right now, I couldn't tell you what I am wearing, but I remember getting this toy almost 50 years ago.
It was my favorite toy. His name was Jojo. I would dress him up in little dresses and use boxes to create rooms for him, complete with beds, rugs, little suitcases, the whole nine yards. I even cut a picture of a monkey out of a magazine, made a little frame for it, wrote "mother" on it and put it on his little dresser that I made out of a shoe box. I figured even monkeys would like a nice picture of family in the room.
He was the perfect monkey. He could hold his banana in his mouth:
|My Monkey's a Genius|
So it was all set. I would grow up, marry Bobby Sherman, get a monkey, dress him in little white dresses and sneakers (the monkey, not Bobby Sherman.) and I would live happily ever after. But that never happened. My dream remains unfulfilled.
P.S. I just looked it up, and apparently it's ILLEGAL to own a non-human primate in Massachusetts. Darn. You can have all the human primates you can produce, but who would want one of those?