When my son was 17 months old he decided to give the terrible twos an early try and threw a tantrum in which he flung himself to the floor hitting his head on a plastic toy. The cut that appeared over his right brow looked like a third eye socket, minus the eye itself.
My son’s bravery for weathering the ambulance ride and a set of stitches that looked like a miniature railroad track had been installed on his forehead by the Borg, was a gift from the hospital nursing staff: a stuffed monkey, a little smaller than your normal beanie baby.
But at that age my son was more interested in stomping around the house and chasing our dog, and screaming “Gog-ga!” at her over and over again, than he was in playing with the stuffed monkey. So the monkey found its way to the bottom of a toy box, and there it stayed, buried other under things, until just the other day when Snags found it and pulled it out again.
At school, his class has been talking about community helpers, and so Snags decided that he would be a veterinarian when he grew up. He likes dogs, you see, and vets help the community by taking care of dogs. After further consideration though, Snags changed his mind. “I don’t want a dog to bite me,” he said, “a dog could bite me if I was a vet and had to give them a shot.” So now Snags wants to be a dog groomer when he grows up. Because, obviously, what dog in his right mind would bite someone who is wrestling them into a bath and blow dry and coming at them with a humming electric shaver?
Now the monkey has become Snag’s best friend and he is taking care of the monkey. When the monkey “broke his arm and his leg,” Snags fashioned little casts for him out of tissue and scotch tape. He made him a wheelchair out of a discarded Deer Park water bottle. Essentially, he’s taking care of the monkey exactly the way a good dog groomer would.
And to show his deep appreciation and admiration for this excellent care, or perhaps because he has simply nothing better to do, the monkey follows Snags everywhere, just like the little lamb followed Mary. Today, for example, the monkey followed Snags to Kindergarten, hitching a ride by climbing into the left front pocket of Snags’ sweatpants.
The monkey was clad in a pair of overalls that my husband had made him, all because Snags decided the monkey needed a pair of overalls. Snags’ original plan was to make the overalls out of paper, but my husband, Martha, offered up a pair of old Levi’s with which to salvage the denim from, and he offered to design and sew a teeny tiny pair of overalls by hand. He set about this task with the utmost concentration, admonishing Snags and I for distracting him. “You don’t understand how difficult this is,” he said. When I laughed at him he got huffy. “Then YOU make the overalls,” he growled. But I declined. “No, Martha,” I replied, “Remember, Snags was going to make the monkey some clothes out of paper, that would have been good enough for him. Cutting up an old pair of blue jeans to make an authentic pair of demin overalls, that was YOUR idea. So YOU do the sewing.”
A little later, the overalls were done, and monkey was dressed. The next day, monkey moved into his mansion. Snags spent hours up in his room positioning furniture into an old dollhouse we had. “Look, Mom!” Snags pointed. “The monkey is wealthy! He lives in this mansion!” And he’s dressed in overalls, I thought. Just like Jed Clampett. That toy box he lived in for the past four years must have been the mountains he came from before he moved to Beverly Hills…
Later that same evening Snags had dug out another small stuffed monkey from his toy box. This one was made of blue felt and lived in an old house that had previously belonged to Barbie. The blue monkey, Snags reported, was Monkey’s “crazy neighbor”.
As Snags got out of the car this morning to head into school, monkey was sticking halfway out of his pants pocket. I worried that maybe he would lose him, that monkey would fall out, get lost in a hallway, kicked down a staircase, never to be found again. I was relived when I got home from work and found monkey resting on the floor amid wrapping paper and bows and crayons and Halloween decorations pulled from storage. A block letter sign lay next to him. MONKEY MAN, the sign read. “Mom,” Snags said, “will you get your camera and film a movie I am making? It’s about Monkey Man. He’s a SUPER HERO!” I noticed that monkey’s tissue paper casts for his broken arm and leg had been removed. He was out of his water bottle wheel chair. Instead, he had donned a tissue paper cape, held securely in place with duct tape on his back. Monkey Man the Super Hero was ready for action. And Snags the dog groomer has become a helpful community movie director. All this to say, be on the lookout for MONKEY MAN, the movie, coming soon to a theater near you.