Friday, March 11, 2011

I Heart Monkeys

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with monkeys.

I had a plush monkey collection that could completely fill a black Hefty trash bag to the very top. I know this, because I once toted the entire collection to school for show-and-tell. The teacher told me I had to pick just my favorite to show everyone, but each time I pulled out a new monkey, that one was my favorite. So I managed to show them all by saying, "oh wait! This one is my favorite!"

From kindergarten to about fourth grade, I ran track for a local team that practiced and held meets at Moorpark College. Do you know why I loved going to track practice? Well, just above the track, Moorpark College has a Zoo. It's a teaching zoo for The Exotic Animal Training and Management Program. Bet you can't guess what kind of Exotic Animals they had there? That's right, monkeys. Three times a week I got to peer through the bars and commune with the monkeys. I wanted one for my very own. My parents, being practical, took me to talk to one of the zoo keepers. "Monkeys are dirty, mean, and don't make good pets. They will throw poo at you and scratch you up," said the zoo keeper. It did nothing to squelch my love for the furry creatures or my desire to own one of my own.

In fourth grade my class went to the Los Angeles Zoo. I'd saved up my allowance with the thought of getting another plush monkey to add to my growing collection. Two memorable things happened that day. First, I met Ricky Schroder of Silver Spoons fame who was at the zoo filming a public service announcement. Be still my young heart! And second, I found a bumper sticker that said I Love Monkeys. Which I bought. Because it was true, I did love monkeys.

Now before I go any further, let me tell you a little bit about my feelings toward bumper stickers. I grew up in a No-Bumper-Sticker-Family. Which means it didn't matter if I was elected president of the United States, my parents would not be sporting a "My child is President of the United States" bumper sticker. So when I asked if we could put the I Love Monkeys bumper sticker on our car, the answer was NO. Now I'm a grown up and have owned a whopping total of six cars since the age of 15 1/2, and not a single one of them has ever had a bumper sticker. In fact, when my husband surprised me by buying the Mommy-mobile mini van I currently drive, it had a 25th Anniversary of E.T. sticker on the window, part of a cross promtion with Toyota and E.T. My response? I love the van! With all my heart! But the sticker must go!

When I had my boys, I called them my little monkeys. I still do. Because they are just like little monkeys. Adorable, yet still sometimes mean, and they will scratch you if you don't trim their nails. And although they've never thrown poo, they both have a diaper blowout story still capable of making my stomach turn (I'll save them for another day. You're welcome). When it's time to go, I say "Let's go, Monkeys!" When it's after lights out and they are still awake and goofing off, I say "Stop monkeying around you Monkeys!"  They even climb trees like monkeys!

October 2007: Ben age 4, Nathan almost 7
 When we moved out of our old house and into our current one, I was sifting through old boxes in the garage. And guess what I came across? My old I Love Monkeys bumper sticker. It was like being in a time machine... I was suddenly transported back to the 4th grade in my room full of plush monkeys in our house in Simi Valley, California. It was still in perfect condition, having never been stuck to anything in all these years. I was so excited! I showed it to my husband and to Chris and his very-pregnant wife, Alyssa, who happened to be there helping us pack up to move. Actually, Chris was helping, Alyssa was sitting and trying to stay hydrated in the August heat.

An hour later we all hopped in the van to get some lunch at the air conditioned mall. We had a nice meal with lots of refills of lemonade. We walked back out to the van, and this is what I saw:

My van, with an I Love Monkeys bumper sticker permanently affixed to the bumper. Not just any I Love Monkeys bumper sticker, but the actual one from my childhood. My husband had secretly pulled it from the box and affixed it to the van. I'm not proud of what happened next.

I flipped out.

In front of the boys, my husband, Chris and Alyssa, and a whole bunch of other spectators in the mall parking lot. I totally let Michael have it. "I do not come from a family who puts bumper stickers on their cars! And now I'll be driving around town with a bumper sticker that proclaims that I Love Monkeys!You have ruined my sticker, which I have saved all these years in perfect condition! Even if we remove it, it will destroy it! And it will probably destroy my bumper too! Everyone is going to ask me questions! What were you thinking! Gaaaahhhh!!!!"

I cringe thinking about it, because honestly, Michael and I rarely fight. You'd think that wouldn't be the case, since we're both intelligent, passionate, strong willed, and have deep convictions about things. The potential for us to fight about a dozen different things is there every single day. But we don't fight about those things. No, we (and by we, I mean I) just fight about stupid and inconsequential things like bumper stickers.

Michael just stood there, looking sheepish and perplexed by the firestorm being lobbed in his direction, while everyone else stared at me with wide open eyes. Of course, my amazing husband totally diffused the situation by looking at me, taking my hand, and saying, "But Heather, you DO love monkeys. It's true." And then the boys sweetly spoke up, "Yeah Mom, you love monkeys."

I sighed in defeat. The sticker is still there, proclaiming my love of monkeys for anyone lucky enough to get behind me. And yeah, people ask me about it all the time. But there is a wonderful, silly, and sweet thing that came out of all this.  When Chris and Alyssa had their beautiful baby boy, Eli, their nickname for him was.. you guessed it... Monkey. So yeah, I love monkeys. I even have the bumper sticker to prove it. What 'cha gonna do about it, huh? Huh?

My Monkey Boys meeting Alyssa's Monkey Boy Elijah for the first time, October 5, 2010


  1. I would have reacted in exactly the same way. "Not only did you ruin my car, you ruined my memory from childhood that I want to keep forever." Did you forgive him, or did you choose to live in peace? Ha ha. Seriously, I am feeling your pain. I assume you are ok now since it has been a few months...

  2. I did forgive him, and learned a good lesson: keeping something that meant so much to me in a box doesn't do anyone any good. Either use it and enjoy it, or get rid of it!


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