There’s a moment in one’s life where one come to the distinct realization that their family might just be a little more different than most.
I was inducted into the Hall of Weird at age 7. Except I thought it was the Hall of Cool. Like, Samantha-is-wearing-leggings-and-pointy-shoes-and-a-neon-shirt-that-falls-off-the-shoulder-and-OMG-did-you-know-she-wears-a-bra cool.
Not unlike finding out from the latest teeny-bopper magazine that your chest is a AAA – which clearly beats out your friend’s AAAA cup – and being oblivious to the wry smiles of everyone each time you brag about your bounty, sometimes we’re the last to know that HoC is really HoW.
I was so oblivious it never occurred to me that carrying around my induction trophy, membership card, and certificate of authenticity (of the Hall of Weird, not my cup size) was maybe not such a great idea after all.
Incorporating spaz-tastic, mads the shits yo, What-Ever, talk to the hand, ‘and a half’, fubared, dis, wicked, totally, burn, and many others into my vocabulary in sad attempts to coolify myself would have been a better idea.
But I digress, I’m a little spazzy tonight.
Cue Star Wars opening credit song
“We’re getting a monkey!”
It’s illegal to import monkeys, but it’s not illegal to own them. And this guy at a local pet shop had this adorable – and wild – young long-tailed chap. And he was coming home with us!
Though my parents and sister visited him many times those 2 weeks he was at the shop all I had were images from my vivid imagination. I was beyond excited and practically ran home from school the day my new ‘brother’ Charlie was adopted.
Charlie – the small, gorgeous, capuchin monkey – was my new best friend. He was still wild when he came home but he quickly adopted us and began to think of himself as human. It’s true! He would scream at you if you uttered ‘monkey’ in his presence; if you served guests coffee and didn’t offer him a beverage, he’d poop in his hands and throw it at said guests. He was one of us, and insisted we never forget. (The time the poop landed in the coffee mug though – that was priceless.)
With peanuts, and juice, and fruits, and tiny little sweat-tarts ‘pills’ we taught him to be gentle. We would put a candy in our mouth and he would then climb up to take it with his teeth. We hid peanuts in our pockets and let him search us. Mom started walking us to school with Charlie on his leash when it was nice out.
Charlie loved kids, and loved people. During hot summer days he’d hang out front in the shaded outdoor cage and the neighborhood kids (and adults alike!) would come chat with him. He was a real charmer – even shaking hands before going all klepto on some poor old lady’s purse or unsuspecting mom’s cleavage.
When Mom and her then fiancée split up we had to leave Charlie with him – we would be moving into a tiny apartment with no balcony and it was no place for a monkey. For years he’d summer with us like the Kardashians summer in the Hamptons. We would stop by after school and go spend time with him.
The last time I saw him, we both cried. The following month I found out my mom’s ex had given him to the Papanack Zoo, where he became a local celebrity.
I never saw him again – I couldn’t make myself go see him. I wanted to. I wanted to call them up, talk to his handler, have alone time with him – not through a cage. But I couldn’t. He would cry. I would cry. Would he understand why I was leaving without him? I couldn’t make myself break his little heart like that.
He passed away in 2005, his handler at his side. I like to believe she loved him almost as much as we did. J-F was showing the kids videos of funny animals on YouTube and there were several like Charlie – same sounds, same little faces…. and he’s been on my mind.
So yeah, I’m the weird girl with the monkey. And that’s a trophy I will forever proudly carry on my back. Cause he was one special little dude.