22 December 2010

My Christmas Monkey

“Do you remember Boys' Life?” he asked Chris.

"The movie with DiCaprio and Dinero?”

“No,” he answered. “That was This Boy’s Life and it was a play before it was a movie. I mean the magazine Boys’ Life, the official Boy Scout magazine.”

“Oh, sure…’The Tracey Twins’…’Mark Trail.’ Get it? Mark Trail? Mark trail?” Chris recalled.

“Right. Those were the comics in the middle of the magazine. Do you remember all the ads for mail-order animals in the back?”

“Mail-order what?”

“Mail-order animals. You could mail-order a raccoon or a box turtle or a half dozen fertilized quail eggs with an incubator like an E-Z-Bake oven.”

“You could?”

"Absolutely. Baby alligators, boa constrictors, chinchillas, skunks, armadillos, and flying squirrels. You could also order a ‘life-size nuclear submarine’ but the rumor was that it was cardboard, a cardboard diagram of a nuclear submarine. Anyway, one Christmas, my best friend in second grade, a kid named Marty Bruno, no lie, Marty Bruno, and he’d saved up for like 10 months to pay the $10 they charged to ship a squirrel monkey to any address in the world and Marty, my best friend, had them ship it to me.”

“They shipped you a monkey?”

“Yeah, a monkey in a toilet-paper tube, you know, the cardboard tube that’s left over when all the toilet paper is gone. Christmas Eve, last day of mail until after Christmas weekend or something and my mom thought it was a good idea to just slip the package under the tree with the rest of the presents and I would open it on Christmas morning with all the rest of my presents and I guess that monkey was just perfectly still and just waiting.”



“Waiting for what”

“Waiting for someone to open the tube.”

“Waiting for you to open the tube.”

“Waiting for me to open the tube. Christmas morning, hot chocolate and banana nut bread, some parade on the TV with the sound turned down and guns and robot astronauts and cowboys and binoculars and who can remember what else until I was pretty much down to it and my mom said, ‘Here, open this’ and handed me this cardboard toilet paper tube with a mailing label stuck around it and I took it and I opened it up and something like nine ounces of insane squirrel monkey from the Amazon River regions of South America just came boiling out the end of that tube screaming this insane monkey scream with these tiny white scary monkey teeth and it started jumping and clambering and climbing with its slick black little monkey hands and the whole time it was screaming but it was also pretty much emaciated and weak from postal starvation and dehydrated from lack of water and my mom was screaming and, let’s face it, I was screaming and my sister was screaming and I guess my dad was probably screaming at us to shut the goddamn hell up while this monkey was looking for a place to perch and have diarrhea and the dry-heaves and glare at us all, the screaming family, and blame us all for everything, for being caught in the Amazon River regions in South America and for being sold to an animal wholesaler and for being advertised in Boys' Life magazine and for Marty Bruno saving up his allowances and most of all for the international postal service in which it had passed nearly a week of close confinement inside what was later confirmed as an actual cardboard toilet paper tube.”

“Merry Fucking Exmas.”

“Merry Fucking Exmas for the monkey.”

“Merry Fucking Exmas for you.”

“Merry Fucking Exmas for everyone. My Christmas monkey story has a sad ending.”

“They usually do.”

“Yeah, I guess. Like, really, any Christmas monkey story, mine has a sad ending involving the father, a paper bag from the Piggly Wiggly, and a garden spade.”


“Merry Fucking Exmas monkey. Living in the Amazon jungle, spend two weeks in a cage at some reeking dockside trading outpost, spend another week in parcel post and travel thousands of miles for the Christmas surprise of being beaten to death with a shovel on the garage floor of a house in the mountains of Colorado where it’s fucking freezing.”

“It’s a fucking Hallmark special, man.”

“So, when school started up again and Marty Bruno asks me if I like my Christmas present, I just say, ‘Which one?’ and when he says, ‘You know, the monkey,’ I just say, ‘What monkey?’ and he’s pretty disappointed thinking I didn’t get the monkey he’d saved up for almost a whole year to buy me for Christmas.”