Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The time my mother almost got us kicked out of Monkey Jungle

This was one of my first posts, and probably my favorite. As most of you didn't know who the heck I was last August, I figured I could re-post it with a few edits and it wouldn't matter.

When I was about 8 years old, my parents took us on a trip to Florida. My father, Horhay, had an old Citroen station wagon that I thought was the coolest car (and still do). It had a hydraulic lift system, and jump seats in the back. It never looked as good as the following picture - it was a dull white, probably spray painted, with a green hood.

In the end, it looked a little more like the following picture. My father never could get rid of a car until one ex-wife or another sent it to the junkyard. He's a bit of a pack rat.

My parents loaded the four younger kids and all of our wordly possessions into the Citroen. My poor sister Bouf had to sit up front and be the map reader. I've done the trip to Florida with my father as his map reader as an adult, and it was brutal. As awful as that job was, there was one that was worse.

Because the trunk was piled so high that my father couldn't see out the back window, they smushed my brother Jimmy in between the luggage and the hatchback door so he could see if it was okay to change lanes. For 3 days down and 3 days back, in the middle of winter, where no heat could reach him.

And what a trip it was! On the way down, Virginia and the Carolina's got hit with an ice and snow storm. Apparently in 1979 they shared one plow and one sand truck between all three states. And no one had ever taught anyone in any of those states how to drive in that shit! I remember hanging on to my mother for dear life in the back seat while my father stubbornly forged on in his trusty and reliable Citroen, dodging cars that were
at a complete stop in the middle of an interstate highway!

I truly do understand that they were woefully unprepared for what turned out to be a devastating storm for them. And really, why would they be prepared for Horhay to be driving through it like a mad-man, not willing to stop until "the next planned stop" on our itinerary, dammit?

He carried around a little notebook, and marked down gas prices and mileage, and how long before we were allowed to go to the bathroom, again. I'm sorry, but a little act of God like a major ice storm just didn't fit in with how many miles we HAD to travel that day.

So we got there, all in one piece, and I think we all actually enjoyed ourselves. My father's parents had a trailer in Jensen Beach at the time, and we visited with them, and did a day at the beach. Then we went on and did Disney, Parrot Jungle and Monkey Jungle.

I barely remember Parrot Jungle. I have pictures of myself and my siblings posing for pictures where they line the parrots up and down your arms. I was actually a little terrified, I had no previous experience with birds, and quite frankly - they have sharp little beaks and are not against taking a nip out of you. Birds have too much free intellect, and are just a different species altogether. Give me a simian over an avian, any day.

I'll never forget Monkey Jungle, though. It was right up my alley. They had many habitats that were wide open, except for nets overhead . The whole thing was amazing to my 8 year old eyes. The best part, however, was that they had people walking around with monkeys. Nowadays, they try to educate you about the animals but don't let you touch them. Mostly for the animal's sake, but also because of liability issues. Back then, however, they were much more interactive.

We came across a man with a baby spider monkey - In A Diaper! I thought I had died and gone to HEAVEN. This was better than any Betsy Wetsy doll Santa had ever brought me. This was a real live baby monkey, and I wanted to love it, and hug it, and stroke his hair backward and name him George. This was my first real estrogen rush, and I could have easily sacrificed every estrogen rush in my future if I could just bring this baby home with me.

Apparently, I was not the only one. Look how unabashedly happy Jimmy looks in this picture.

(And really, good lord, get a hair cut, Mr. 1979 monkey keeper! Barry Gibbs you are not!)

After this picture was taken, the baby monkey kind of crawled up my arm. I don't know whether he was tired, or hungry, or what, but he started sort of suckling my arm. I didn't know what was going on, I was 8. It didn't hurt or anything, it sort of felt like what I later realized a hickey would feel like. Not a big deal, to me. But to my mother, holy crap!

Apparently she thought the wild crazy monkey was trying to eat her youngest daughter. And She Started Hitting It! Hitting a baby monkey in a diaper, yelling, "get off, get off". Which is probably why they don't let their patrons touch their animals any longer.

My mother is probably the only person in the history of Monkey Jungle not to get kicked out for slapping a baby monkey while yelling, "get off, get off". And if anyone is here because of a really dirty Google search - ha-ha on YOU, you perv. Get the fuck off my blog.


Janie at Sounding Forth said...

That last comment cracked me up!

Morgan the Muse said...

Mr. Zoo Keeper? I thought it was a woman! Do get a haircut!!!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Mothers; sometimes we tend to overreact when it comes to our young.

Kelly said...

Too funny! I want a baby monkey!

chaos37 said...

STILL too F-ing funny, thanks I really needed that laugh. I love the re-write. You still got it, babe, hang in there.

JoJo said...

Hey! 1979 was a good year for hair! lol

But honestly, the only monkeys I like are The Monkees. Actual simian animals creep me out big time. Davy Jones, though, not so much.

Gwen said...

Dude. That is one funny-ass story!

Your brother's face is priceless.