Saturday, April 05, 2008


I was driving Echo down to the train station a couple of mornings ago when I rounded a bend in the road and saw one adult monkey sitting in the middle of the way and was surprised, since I had for some time been reveling in the broad delights of monkeylessness.

I was even more surprised when the redfaced roadhog didn’t do what monkeys generally do in such a situation, i.e. beeline asap for the immediate roadside; instead he did what action movie characters on foot being chased by cars always do for the convenience of the action director - even though the audience sees through it immediately every time - the otherwise savvy action star runs straight away from the car when all he has to do is zip right to the roadside and be free, thence into an alley and forget about it, but no: he runs straight down the street at 10mph away from a car going 80mph! Well, this ape must have seen a few action movies, 'cause that’s what he did, very unapelike, against every instinct: he loped off straight down the road, for a long way. And I, an experienced action audience member, in my conviction that this was a mere ape, was none the wiser.

A little sidestep here to touch briefly upon a relevant but much-ignored aspect of our human heritage: along with sapience, morality, conscience and all that other stuff in the attic, living area and basement that makes us ‘superior’ to simians, we inherited a characteristic that, although not often noted as the severe handicap it is, may perhaps be our greatest flaw: the ability to be complacent. Just look around you. Monkeys, in contrast, like all wild creatures, are utterly free of complacency. You have to be sapient to plumb the furthest reaches of ignorance.

Well-- as to that, you see before you the current king of complacency, because I fully believed , and acted upon, what I merely thought! Can anything in retrospect be more ridiculous? (We won’t go into the elections right now, this is neither the time nor the place.) Yes, in the comfortably abject faith that is so easily induced by protracted monkeylessness I had fallen into the habit of harvesting my shiitake as I needed them, letting the small and midsized ones grow a little larger for later etc. Indeed, that very morning I had walked by the lushly sprouting logs and mentally selected the mushrooms I would take at noon for my lunch.

When I got back from the station about 15 minutes after the monkey sighting, I went out to harvest said mushrooms and found that despite the ongoing monkeylessness I had been so sure of, the logs had been tossed by a large party of hairy marauders and every single mushroom was gone. No sign of apefulness around, though, excepting the one in the roadway-- which, now that I gave it some thought amidst the plasma of fungal absence, explained the simian-action-hero car escape nonsense: he was leading me away, as he thought it, while his companions pillaged my fungi!

So it seems that monkeys are getting smarter at a steady pace, which means that soon they’ll be complacent! I’ll be ready for that day. But no matter what, I’ll never run straight away from a monkey at the wheel.


Thomas said...

I love your monkey stories - I think you have enough material by now for a whole book about your life in these beautiful mountains. Have you ever thought of making a book out of all these stories? I'm very much looking forward to the chapter about the monkeys! :)

Bob Brady said...

Thomas, nice to hear from you. Yes, I am assembling a book from all the years, mere candidate excerpts so far (up to the middle of last year-- combing through and printing out is a pain) are several inches thick and rising steadily, so finishing the excerptation and then editing down the whole mass is not a task I look forward to, I've seen it all before, so have habituated eyes and brain (keep it ALL in!)... But one of these days. Another trouble is, I keep writing the stuff...