Edmond

Creepy Monkey

I recently found a plastic chimp in the cupboard above the stove.

He’s smallish (key-chain sized), crouched forward with wide, glassy eyes. I found this chimp grinning in front of my cook books and I thought, “Hey. A chimp.”

I find it odd that my reaction was not, ‘HOW THE HELL DID THAT GET THERE?’ But rather, “Hey. A chimp.”

Curious.

I’m not terribly surprised; friends give me things. Over the years, Perry has gifted me disturbing postcards with dead-eyed dolls, actual dolls (because dolls are creepy) and a bulbous-headed wooden creature that defies description as an animal:   dog? Monkey? Is the thing human? When I call to thank him (my voice full of dubious gratitude), he says, “Isn’t it horrible? I wouldn’t want it my house; I don’t think I could sleep with that thing in my house.”

One ‘treasure’ is an aqua-colored creature, distressed, using both meanings: it’s painted and scraped but also when someone comes upon it suddenly in my house, the thing elicits an “OH GOD” of instant repugnance. (I guess that’s distressing rather than distressed.) It’s Egyptian-like eyes and slightly twisted ‘un-smile’ make the thing more sinister than you’d ever think.

It’s a carved, wooden antique, something Geppetto would have burned after carving it, because he wanted a real son, not an undead evil force. However, it was a gift from someone I love, so I bent its stiff wooden legs into a sitting position and the thing now sits on the edge of a dying, potted fern, footless-legs dipped in the dry soil. (Whatever house plant he perches in dies. Weird.)

About nine years ago, my friend Dave borrowed my power sander and I artfully hid the bulbous-headed thing under sandpaper, hoping to give him a good scare.

Twenty minutes after he left, my phone rang and a familiar, angry voice demand, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong?” I said sweetly.

“I found that thing in the bag. The Companion,” Dave said.

“The Companion?”

Dave said, “It’s name is The Companion.”

Instead of laughing, I recoiled, because Dave had accidentally spoken its true name aloud. Of course I had never named it; but I recognize the truth of the name when it lands.

Dave is weirdly intuitive, touching another world with his wonder and unique energy. He often believes the best about people, and then he bends reality to fit this vision. I am honored we’re friends because he’s better than that common phrase, “good people,” he makes me want to be “good people.” He’s practical, too, so he’s not just wide-eyed and dreamy. Yet he sometimes bends the world to work just like he imagines, and I find that impressive.

Now, when house guests recoil in horror and gasp, “What the hell is that?” I am required to sadly say, “It’s The Companion.”

Everyone knows the disastrous first step in Teenage Horror Movie formula is to pronounce aloud the thing’s true name. Three rules:   1) Don’t call the ultimate evil by name/read spells from an ancient book, 2) Don’t be near a secret government lab or accidentally collect ancient talismans, Egyptian necklaces, cursed oil paintings, etc. 3) Don’t be a virgin.

Idiot kids in those movies think, “We probably shouldn’t read from this ancient book, but what are the odds of a government lab and virgin blood nearby, two of the three necessary ingredients to unleash the spell?”

Uh huh.

Personally, I’m not overly worried about The Companion because I do not live near a secret government lab nor am I a virgin. (Well, technically, yes, I’m a virgin. I’ve never had sex with a woman. But, as a gay man, that kind of virginity doesn’t count. Right?)

See where this is going?

My friends are creepy.

They say creepy things and mail me creepy stuff and they torture me by leaving it for me in my kitchen cupboards for me to find weeks later and I think, “Hey. A chimp.” What’s with all these people? I can’t find a common denominator.

I decided my friend Michael (who loves gorillas) is goofy enough to leave me a chimp, so I called and left a snarky voicemail, busting him. Imagine my surprise two days later when Ron said during a telephone call, “Did you find anything in your kitchen cupboards lately?”

Ron works a big job at a big financial institution. He watches the wobbles of our international economy and he may actually have some insight into what happens next. He tries to influence things towards the best outcomes, but the world feels very uncertain these days, so who knows? He’s worried. I didn’t think he had time to plant creepy monkeys in my kitchen.

I love how Ron often surprises me.

Over the phone he described how pressing a button on the back of its head emits a piercing screech and the chimp’s crystal eyes blaze a blinding blue light. When I say blinding, what I mean is “blinding,” because for the last week or so I’ve been testing it with friends, making them peer into the chimp’s crystal eyes and then I say, “Watch.”   I press the button and they jerk their heads away, rubbing their eyes and calling me an asshole.

“I know!” I say excitedly. “It’s surprising how strong that little light is. It really hurts your eyes, doesn’t it?”

That night on the phone, I asked Ron why he gifted me this little creature and he said, “Well, because you collect creepy monkeys.”

I gently protested. I had no idea what he meant.

“Well,” said Ron, “There’s the painted wooden one with the fez and vest on your hutch with all the plants.”

“That’s just one.” I said.

“And the horrible Father Christmas monkey you tried to give away as a prize at your Halloween party but nobody would take.”

Two.

Ron said, “Plus, The Companion. That thing is a monkey.”

When other people experience those “light bulb moments,” I imagine they always see fuzzy, yellow light and feel a soft glow of recognition. My light bulb moments always flash dangerously, an orange-flickering Halloween moment right before my brain and mouth say in unison, “Oh fuck.”

Oh fuck.

“Three creepy monkeys is a coincidence.” I said to Ron. I didn’t quite believe it but now I was getting defensive.  “Three is a weird coincidence, but not — ”

At that exact moment, my eyes caught sight a gorgeous hardwood on the fireplace mantle: a Chinese diety known as  The Monkey King. The exquisitely carved statue came from San Francisco’s Chinatown and is associated with Greg, the best new friend I met in San Francisco during my four months.

Greg and I met shortly after I occupied the tree house and we dated a few times. On our second date, I felt like crap but we really wanted to see each other, so we ate take-out from a health food store on an outdoor stone bench at the intersection of Noe and Henry. I felt like crap and Greg made concerned, frowny faces across from me because he felt bad that I felt bad. I remember thinking, “This is why we go on dates. For moments like this.”

A lovely moment marred by my inability to lean over and kiss him without risking his health.

My sparkling life moments are often tempered by some detail that isn’t quite right. It’s the ying and yang, I guess. Great joys interwined with some creepy detail that throws off the moment.

Although we did not date long, Greg and I developed a sweet friendship that endures. Greg will always have a place of honor in my heart. In fact, I recently bought us both matching Monkey King T-shirts from a cool website because the The Monkey King myth means something special to us. Note: I do not categorize my Monkey King statue as ‘creepy’ in any way, but he’s fierce and intimidating, which others might see as creepy.

Ron knew something had happened. Over the phone he said, “You found another monkey, didn’t you. Did you honestly not know that you collect them?”

I shared with Mary-Scott how ‘Crazy Ron’ absurdly thought I collected creepy monkeys after only four data points. Crazy, crazy Ron. Anybody could happen to have four very unique monkeys in their home and not own a collection. I knew Mary-Scott would agree with me.

“Did he count The Companion?” she said.

“Yes.” I said, a bit testily.

She said, “And of course, Bongo.”

“Bongo?” I said, surprised.

“He didn’t know about Bongo?” asked Mary Scott.

Bongo is my beanie baby I once kept in an office job. He was kidnapped one day by coworker friends, and I only happened to notice this because I was anonymously invited through a fake email address to view photos. I caved to the monkey-napper demands and Bongo was returned safely.

When I saw the Bongo photos on my work monitor, I remember thinking, “Hey. There’s Bongo.”

“HE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BONGO?” Mary-Scott said, laughing. “What about how you send all those chimp emails with their creepy voices? Did he know about that? Has Ron gotten one of those from you?”

I remained silent.

Mary-Scott laughed harder. When she could speak at last, she said, “Surely, surely Ron knew about your Dad’s Monkey Face, that expression he taught you and your siblings. He knows you can make yourself look like Dr. Zaius, right?”

I remained silent.

As Mary-Scott howled with laughter, that orange-flashing bulb smashed itself itself on and off, that Halloween recognition that perhaps, just perhaps, I have a Creepy Monkey collection.

Then while discussing this creepy monkey situation with my brother, I suddenly remembered a beloved limp doll from my childhood, a monkey, (aptly named ‘Monkey’) that I barfed on one night while reassuring him that Mom would help us with this stomach ache. My vomit-stained monkey was never seen again. Talking with Matt reminded me of Franco.

Huh.

Earlier today, I complained to Ron about talking to ‘Crazy Mary-Scott.’ He listened quietly and said, “What about those sexually explicit Curious George cards we traded back and forth through the mail? Did you count those?”

I remained silent.

What’s that first rule in Teenage Horror Movies? Don’t collect a bunch of  creepy talismans that may collectively possess evil powers. The second rule: don’t near a secret government lab. The third rule: don’t be a virgin.

Oh fuck.

Meh. I think it’s okay. I mean, it’s only two out of three. I’m sure there’s not a secret government lab nearby.

Probably.

7 Responses to “Creepy Monkey”

  1. Jeffrey Says:

    Whatever you do. Don’t let the monkeys touch your eyes, ears, or mouth. A monkey did that to the Halliwell sisters on Charmed and one couldn’t see, one couldn’t hear, and the third couldn’t talk. And then a demonic old lady nearly kidnapped the baby of the blind sister. They had to work together (a huge challenge since they were sisters) to save the day. Who knows how that old lady may have changed the world if she’d won. We could all be monkeys in your house.

  2. Edmond Says:

    Now THIS is practical advice.

    Clearly, Jeffrey, you totally understand how the Creepy Monkey thing works. And thank goodness those Halliwell sisters finally overcame their differences to function as a team. (Wait, wasn’t that the formulaic plot of *every* Charmed episode?)

    Nevermind. The important thing is that peace-loving citizens like yourself recognize the threat is real.

    Jeffrey, thanks for your comments, as always. I love ‘em.

  3. squipple Says:

    I warned you before, don’t let the monkey count reach 12! Bruce Willis will come from the future and get you!

  4. Edmond Says:

    Oh crap. You did warn me, Sam.
    Crap, crap, crap.

  5. Pear Says:

    Are the monkeys really creepy, or do they just reflect the darkness of the observer? If I remember right, “The Companion” was actually our son’s, Dylan’s, toy. I don’t think he ever found it creepy. Because he was pure. Virginal in all senses. And I think you have your horror mythology backwards. It’s the stoners and the sexually active that have to fear the consequences of sinfulness. The virgins eventually survive, although admittedly in shredded lingerie. Still they get to survive. But the degenerates. They’re the ones that monkeys crave…

  6. Edmond Manning » Blog Archive » It’s Not So EZ Says:

    [...] (By the way, internet people, please don’t break into my house while I’m gone this weekend. I just bought some seedlings I’d like to plant on Sunday evening in tiny little starter pots and I can’t do that if I’m sweeping up broken glass and filing police reports, trying to take inventory of all the creepy monkeys stolen from my home. Plus, all the valuable stuff is locked up in the garage with the broken door hinge, so seriously, start there.) [...]

  7. Edmond Manning » Blog Archive » The Dandelion King Says:

    [...] I’m a fan of metaphor, symbols, and I know how the universe sometimes uses weeds, creepy monkeys, and free bags of ice to communicate. So, I’m all over the yellow drought flowers. [...]

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