That’s right . . . I have avoidance issues, and it’s been a weird couple of weeks.
I walked into my office after lunch a couple weeks ago to the news that the artist formerly known as Prince and now known as Prince again had died.
Immediately I picked up the phone to share the news with my husband, who said, “You called to tell me that?”
“I did,” I responded as if it weren’t already fairly obvious since that’s the only thing I had said. “I thought you would be as upset as I am. I mean, Prince helped kill disco.”
When that didn’t help, I began ticking off a frantic list of my favorite Prince songs: Let’s Go Crazy, Purple Rain and all those songs that butchered the English language by replacing words with letters and numbers. Am I right? I was not, according to my man, and I love him regardless.
Following a 24-hour news cycle of all things Prince – like I needed to be reminded – it was back to all politics, all day.
Like I needed to be reminded.
Because of this, I entered the avoidance phase of that news. I’ve started looking for anything but those things, as well as anything to do with the Kardashians or reminders that swimsuit season is “just around the corner.”
And let me tell you, avoidance can be a slippery slope, my friend – it catapulted me into my own version of a Marlin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom-esque trip down memory lane.
During my avoidance journey I first learned about Inky, an octopus being held in National Aquarium of New Zealand. Inky made what is being called a daring escape from his tank through a small gap at the top, then scampering eight feet across the floor and sliding down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that dropped him into Hawke’s Bay and freedom.
It’s not often I can write a story about the liberation of wild sea life that doesn’t involve a child running down the beach pumping her fist.
Nope, Inky the Octopus freed himself with no pomp or circumstance and slipped quietly back into the sea in New Zealand. I have mad respect for Inky and the way he escaped while quietly saying, “you don’t own me.”
Go, Inky, go.
What followed could not be made up.
I was proof-reading the police story for last week’s Iowa Park Leader – you remember, the one that had a report about a monkey bite at a local drive-through restaurant? Yes . . . that one.
Well, nobody said a word to me about it. It was just handed to me to read with no warning whatsoever like this kind of stuff happens all the time in Iowa Park (a town that made it on Hee Haw several years ago, by the way).
As I hope you can imagine, this stirred up all kinds of questions and horrible ideas on my part, not the least of which was asking for the headline “Monkey McBite in Iowa Park!” in the largest type possible on the front page and above the fold. I did not win that fight, which I am calling our biggest editorial flub since we misnamed “disc golf” a couple years back in our paper.
Of course, this is why I don’t call the shots here.
But I found out quite a bit about it and found that the person bitten is really doing well considering he or she did not see it coming when they put on their work clothes that morning, and actually sustained very minor injuries.
The monkey was described to me as a Capuchin monkey that resembles an angry old man. Since I have met several who matched this description, I immediately wanted to meet the monkey.
My inner monkey.
I’m not defending the monkey, but I have felt like biting no one in particular for no good reason on several occasions in my life so we have a little bit in common.
Anyway, it sounds like everyone is fine and the monkey is being quarantined to check for monkey fever or whatever they’re checking for, and I’m sure they’ll find out he was just having a bad day and send him home. Then all will be well.
Except for the scar the employee at the drive-through will probably carry through life that is similar to a finger scar I got after being bitten on the finger by a hamster at the local TG&Y many, many years ago.
The memories came flooding back to the day that I stuck my inquisitive 6-year-old finger between the bars of the tiny cage and the hamster asked me to leave in the only language he spoke – with his teeth. If the verbiage sounds dramatic, it should. Hamsters have abnormally large bottom front teeth.
To my knowledge the hamster wasn’t quarantined afterward, but probably sold to another six-year-old whose mother fed it until its life came to a natural conclusion a couple weeks later.
This week, I found myself talking to a great life-long friend who now owns The Community News in Aledo, and whose father happened to be manager of the Iowa Park TG&Y at the time.
While I wasn’t calling him to help me work through the psychological wounds I suffered as the result of a hamster bite over 40 years ago, the topic did manage to come up.
He told me before their family moved to Iowa Park, his dad managed the TG&Y in Lubbock. In addition to hamsters, Randy told me, TG&Y also sold live monkeys.
I am not joking, because monkeys are something we rarely joke about in North Texas.
You could, in the 1960’s and 70’s, purchase a monkey at a TG&Y, which I understand is a moniker for Toys, Games and YoYo’s (with a side of monkeys).
Randy said that while in Lubbock, his brother Steve was bitten by one the monkeys in the store after sticking his hand in the cage, or “pulling a Kari” as my family now calls it.
While the monkey was not quarantined, it did die shortly after. Steve, who was also not quarantined, is alive and well and living in the metroplex without a pet monkey, I’m told.
I say all of that to say this: Rest in Peace to Prince, disco, the monkey who bit Steve,and all news political and Kardashian. Also – Godspeed, Inky.