Have you ever had an irrational fear? I am afraid of monkeys. I can't even stand a monkey sock doll or stuffed animal. People think it's so funny to give me birthday cards with monkeys on them; they don't know I'm seriously afflicted with monkey fear. I don't think that this fear was irrational when it first developed. I blame it on my parents.
Part of the reason I don't like monkeys is because they look so much like people, and I find their little hands and their gestures and facial expressions to be a creepy mirror of human behavior. For example, this is me at my doctor appointment last Friday. Don't you hate it when they make you undress and put on one of those silly gowns?
And I particularly hate it when monkeys wear clothes. That is really too much. Then they look like little messed up humans, and that is also creepy. Remember that Lancelot Link show where monkeys chewing gum acted out the parts, and they dubbed in the dialogue? Oh, I could not stand to watch that. Lancelot looked exactly like George Burns.
Once when my son was about three years old, I left him with my mama and went over to my friend Nancy's house to see her newborn baby. He had been delivered prematurely, and he was this little bitty squinched up kid about the size of a Thumbelina doll. When I came back home, Mama said, "Was he cute?" I said, "No, he looked like a little monkey." The next time Nancy came over to visit, she was carrying little John wrapped up in a blanket. Jaybird tip-toed up to her and whispered, "Can I see your little monkey?"
Once I was in the mall, passing outside the toy store. A battery-operated monkey about a foot and a half tall came dancing out of the store and made a beeline for me. He was toddling along with his little hands raised up at the sides of his head like a baby. In fact, he was wearing a pair of white baby shoes and carrying a half-peeled banana. Before I even had time to think, I just kicked that monkey right back into the store. "Well, that wasn't very nice," the clerk told me. At least they didn't make me buy it.
Look at this little hand. It reminds me of my Dad's hands when he got old. See what I'm saying? Monkeys are just too human.
Now this one is almost cute, and I don't find him all that scary. You guessed it. It's because he looks like a monkey, not a kid.
Now, this is why I blame my parents for my monkey fear. When I was four years old they got me all excited about staying up past bedtime and watching a special movie. Mama popped popcorn and we all sat down to watch The Wizard of Oz. When I saw those evil flying monkeys, I went completely out of my skin. They tried talking me down. Then they tried threatening me. All the time they were bent over at the waist, holding their sides and laughing until tears flowed from their eyes. It served them right that Mama had to poke a broom under my bed and check in the closet and out the windows every night after that before I'd go to sleep.
Here's the kind of mama I am: I did the same thing to my son. We were snuggled up together on the couch watching the movie when the dreaded monkeys came on. I shivered and said, "See? I told you they were really scary!" Jaybird patted me on the cheeks and said, "It's okay, Mommy. They're only little people dressed up like monkeys."
Also, monkeys are biters. There's nothing you can do about it. They're wild animals. It's not their fault that people want to treat them like babies.
For some reason, just in the past few years I've been getting over my fear of monkeys. But I'm still not planning to go to any continent where they run around unfettered. My brother's girlfriend Julia went to India, and she came back with a million stories about the trouble monkeys can get you into. There they run around in packs like juvenile delinquents.
I've recently met a monkey girl I like. She paints wicked little animals that smoke cigarettes and act like humans, but they're so cute that I can't get mad at them. You can visit the Patti Monkey blog and see her little demons here.
Do you have any irrational fears, or am I the only one holding on to my little childhood traumas?