Thursday, October 06, 2005


Setting out early this sunny morning to freewheel down the mountain to the train station on my motorcycle, I’d gotten up to a good speed as I approached the tunnel under the road when I spotted at the other end of the tunnel a middle-aged monkey just sitting there solo in the middle of my road doing nothing, not scratching, not even eating somebody’s onion, just staring nonchalantly at that big hole with the dark speck inside, increasing in size and noise, that was me.

I revved my engine. He stared. Beeped my horn. He stared. Then I emerged from the dark of the tunnel and he realized I wasn’t part of the big hole, leaped for a utility pole support cable by the roadside and hung there staring, suspended as comfortably as we sit in armchairs watching tv. I wasn’t in an actual hurry myself, really, just one of those artificial hurries I get into when taking advantage of the free gravity, so I pulled to a stop beside him and sat there idling. We stared at each other for a while and thought about things, like a couple of reasonable simians.

He hung there staring casually at my chromy bike, my boots and jeans, my brown shirt and black baseball hat, my orange knapsack and surfer shades, the tilt of his head reflecting a remote wonder at why I needed all this parpaphernalia compared to his trim and time-tested fur coat, low unhatted brow, bright red face, unshaded auburn eyes, all you need for living a good life on no salary. The one trait we had fully in common was the lack of a tail, for some reason to do with shared evolutionary fashion.

He’d obviously been doing well in the forage department, his heft likely due in no small part to some of my missing Roma tomatoes. After I left for my office in the city he’d no doubt get back to work himself, visit my garden for a few fresh homegrowns, then climb into the trees and nibble on a variety of wild fruit and nuts, wash it all down with fresh sparkling mountain water like we can buy in the convenience store, before finding a nice tall breeze-rocked oak to take a nap in.

Just about then my full-time office appeal index fell below zero; but I’m nothing, if not human, so I broke off our little interspecies exchange, left him hanging there and rolled on down to catch the train. In his own way, I'll bet the monkey did the same.

As to the ultimate value of human intelligence, the jury’s still out.


Chancy said...

And I bet Your Happiness Index and the monkey's Index were hovering about the same spot on the chart.

From the NYT:

A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom (Bhutan)

Robert Brady said...

I think you're right, chancy... and thanks for the excellent links; keep me thinking along the truest lines...