Q: Why is this monkey in jail?
A: Because it has no place in polite society.
This is a true story and I told a truncated version of it on the blog around that time, but because I'm not in the same professional situation that led to the monkey encounter, I will now make free to tell the whole, nasty truth about the day a lady brought a monkey into my office.
I was managing a group of lofts in Dallas, and due to the concrete floors, we had no size or breed restriction on dogs and were quite pet-friendly. We generally found that with the large deposit required and the price point of the lofts, most dog owners were of the responsible stripe and not inclined to ruin a home with pet filth, etc, and generally it was a peaceable kingdom when it came to pets.
One day, a woman called and asked if we allowed people with monkeys to rent there. I told her that I had no experience with that, but so long as general pet regulations were adhered to, I could not see any impediment to that, so long as the monkey was sufficiently small and at all times well-contained. She made an appointment to come see the apartment for later in the day.
When she arrived, the monkey was perched on her shoulder and seemed impossibly tiny-- maybe 2 or 2.5 pounds. She sat in the office and filled out a guest card, and we chatted a brief while. She asked had I seen her on the news recently, and I said that I had not watched the local news, and she proceeded to tell me she'd been in a custody battle with the SPCA for her Capuchin monkey, who was designated as a service animal that helped her focus. She said she'd recently been in a rehab facility for her nerves, and had left the monkey with her brother, who turned it over to the SPCA after a day or two, and thus had she the dickens of a time getting her pet back from the SPCA. She said she was convinced this was because the head of the local SPCA wanted her darling little monkey for herself.
For the purposes of this story, I need to give the monkey a name, so I'll call her LucyFur.
As the woman and I chatted, LucyFur was almost instantly all over my desk and into everything. How surreal is that? Emily Post wrote the book on responding to any manner of odd or unpleasant occurrences in social encounters from belches to any myriad other faux pas, but never does she advise how to address the thorny issue of asking a potential customer to control their bloody monkey in your office space.
I am a damned good salesperson, and I had a great track record at closing a deal with people on rentals, but unlike this potential renter, the monkey inspired something quite the opposite of focus for me-- I could not follow the conversation with the woman. I was trying not to be mean to her or the monkey, yet I needed to remove someone's rent check from LucyFur's maw and LucyFur at one point climbed atop my head and proceeded to rearrange my waist-length hair much as one would toss a salad. Many papers were torn, including my desk calendar. Meanwhile, LucyFur's Mommy [LM for short] never missed a beat and prattled incessantly. Fortunately, LM's monologues rarely required a response from me, so I was free to enjoy a sea of crashing waves of WTF about which the monkey buffetted me wildly.
Let me tell you a little more about LucyFur: she is smelly and sports a diaper. She's tiny, and the little black hands boggle the mind. The astonishingly teeny fingernails replete with long nail beds, the articulation of each digit are so like human hands and so impossibly small that I found her hands (nearly) the most disturbing thing about her. Yes, I'm trying at this point to focus on LM, but the monkey's into something else again. LucyFur hugs her body to my iced tea glass and grips it with her thighs and gloms her rubbery monkey lips onto the straw as I sputter to LM that she's drinking my drink! LM chuckled and said "that's okay, she LOVES coke!" as if this would be wonderful news to me. The point was not that I was concerned that little LucyFur would ingest aspertame or upset her little tummy with my carbonation in beverage of choice-- my concern was that her monkey was ruining MY frelling beverage!!! This fact was lost on LucyFur's Mommy, though.
I heard all the things she said to me, and some of them I processed later, but at the time, I was transfixed on LucyFur. Now, if someone came into your office with an unruly child, you would -- at some point-- ask the person to settle the child down - to keep them out of the drawers and such. You might give the child a pen and paper to draw, or perhaps a pack of razor blades, but how do you tell someone to control their monkey? I still don't know, but I hope I am never in the way of needing to know again.
Finally LucyFur, having drooled upon or coon-fingered everything within leash-length at least 3 times and apparently bored, locked her eyes upon mine. I must say I was in a near-hypnotic state, my brain's system completely short-circuited. I didn't bother to wonder what it would do next, I just sat and watched. LucyFur crept closer, about a foot from me, looking intently into my eyes, unblinking. I stared back. LucyFur flopped down on my desk on her right side, never breaking the stare, and shoved her left hand into her diaper, and appeared to be manually addressing herself quite vigorously. As she did so, her mouth went through an arc of expressions from a large open racetrack-oval to a wrinkly sphincter-like little circle, occasionally flashing teeth. Rinse, lather, repeat. [Am I dreaming this? Did someone slip acid in my breakfast burrito?] It was not strange enough already that I had this out-of-control pocket simian going ape-shit on my desk, but now she was masturbating to boot. LucyFur's Mommy staunchly ignored the 800 pound gorilla in the room and kept talking as if nothing unusual were happening. There I sat, lady talking on and on, monkey getting busy with herself on my desk, and I was absolutely reeling. I think my mouth must have been hanging open, thousand-yard-stare style. Then again, I'm sure LM didn't notice this, because this sort of thing must happen to her all the time. At last having talked herself out, LM asked for an application for the apartments and took her leave, and I crossed my fingers that she'd find something she liked somewhere else, because I just didn't know how I was going to deal with an ongoing relationship with such a client. My day derailed utterly, I tried to collect the tattered remnants of my sanity and get on with my work, picking up the pieces, because let's face it: after a monkey spanks itself on your desk, your life is never going to be the same, and you will thenceforth face each new day with a new sense of the possibility of unrealized horrors which may yet unfold in the day ahead.
A few days later, I spoke to a friend who managed other apartments in the area. I told her what a trying week it had been and she said "oh, you think yours was bad? A couple of days ago, a lady brought an insane monkey in here. It drank my coke!" I quipped "but did it masturbate on your desk?" Turns out LM had been visiting a lot of local apartments with her LucyFur, trying to winnow out the attention from the local news story and had dropped into the friend's community as well while making the rounds. Monkey-housing syndrome, perhaps?
SO... I googled LM. I found the news story, but it said not that she'd been in a rehab facility for her nerves, but had been in jail for writing hot checks. Um. Wow. Apparently after a day babysitting, the monkey had been too much for her brother to manage and he'd turned it over to the SPCA in hopes that they could do a better job. I must take a moment here to say that as eerie and disturbing as I found the monkey to be, I think the little devils should never be mistreated, but I do seriously question their appropriateness as pets. And if 2.5 pound of monkey can wreak that much havoc and chaos, can you imagine the challenges of a larger monkey or a chimp? Heaven forbid.
Lingering over breakfast at Blogorado one morning last week, I told the above story with monkey facial expressions and the whole nine yards, and Tam and MattG were practically doubled over with laughter. It IS a funny story, and I still can't quite wrap my entire brain around it, but it is such a singular experience that even though I still don't understand it all, I feel better for talking about it. Just when the laughter was ebbing and everyone felt somewhat recovered, MattG quipped "well, there's one off your bucket list: have a member of another species masturbate while thinking of you." And fresh gales of laughter erupted.