October 31, 2008

A monkey on her back

Okay, it's time to tell the story of the Monegasque Monkey Attack. Several of you have indicated a mild curiosity about the tale of the monkey, and Dan even called to beg me to write it.

Actually, that's not true. I called him. But the story did come up in our conversation, and he can at least vouch for the fact that I do have an ex-wife, and that she was (and presumably still is) a very nice person who

a) did not deserve to be attacked by a monkey.

2. did not deserve the irritation that being married to me might possibly have caused.

In fact I'm not sure how one would even go about deserving to be attacked by a monkey.

So there we were in the Principality of Monaco. I was presenting a paper at a conference there. Monaco is wonderfully nice, but not a great place to be a poor graduate student (and, I'm forced to admit, probably an even worse place to be the spouse of one). Since we weren't really the casino, Grand Prix types, we decided to go to this little zoo they had there. It was an old-school, cages with bars type place. The monkey cage had plexiglas screwed to it to thwart their coproshenanigans.

The smear and glare on the plexiglas was such that in order to view our simian cousins we had to get kind of close to it and cup our hands around our eyes, Viewmaster style. We were, at least, on the clean side.

While we enjoyed the antics of the cavorting little homunculi, one of them crept close to the cage and perched over the plexiglas, reached out, and SNATCHED a huge hank of my wife's hair right out of her head, banging her head into the cage as it did so! And then it scampered back to the back of the cage, laughing--yes, laughing--and grimacing, and then shoving all of the hair (and probably some scalp ... this was a fairly brutal attack) into its mouth.

She was in pain and so surprised she could hardly figure out what happened. I mean, who expects to be attacked by a monkey?

Needless to say, this was a sensitive situation. So there were two reasonable things I could have done at this point:

a. I could have given her first aid and attempted to succor her.

2) I could have demanded assistance from the zoo staff, and satisfaction in the form a big payment from the Prince of Monaco (which I would undoubtedly have gone on to lose at the casino).

The third choice, of course, is the one that tells you why, less than a year later, I was living in my hopping East 18th Avenue bachelor pad across from the convenience store, the storefront church, and the Salvation Army (okay, yeah, I'm skipping some of the other life choices that got me there, but fun as they were at the time, they're predictable and trite, so I prefer to blame my divorce on the monkey attack):

Can you guess what I did?

Yep: I. Laughed. My. Ass. Off.

I know, I know. But what was I to do? I'm only human.

Listen, if that had happened to me, wouldn't I have laughed about it (eventually)? Wouldn't I be telling pretty much the same story as I told you here, with me as the butt of it? Even as I tried to stanch the blood flow and effect a debonair combover, I would have been composing the story I would tell everyone when I got back to Ohio and somebody asked me, "How was the trip?"

"'How was the trip?'! I got attacked by a f---ing monkey!"

It would have been awesome. Instead, I have to tell it this way, and it kind of makes me look like a jerk. Still, it's pretty funny though.


Tom said...

I'll always remember your apartment on 18th, Jim, for the former PhotoMat across the street. On the long side (of that very short building) it read "Perfect Pizza and Sub," while on the short side there was only room for "Perfect Pizza."

From the right angle, of course, the two combined unforgettably: "Perfect Pizza and Sub-Perfect Pizza."

I never had the guts to order the latter.

Michael said...

Yes, it was pretty funny, but it'd be even funnier if you made a video re-enactment of the event, with, oh, Angelina Jolie as The Wife and, oh, Billy Bob Thornton as the Husband. I guess we couldn't get them together anymore.

As for why a monkey would attack anyone, see a lost, little-known film from the 30's called King Kong.