Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we must navel-gaze about a very odd occurrence on January 1, 2007.
Only my most dedicated readers know the long saga of the Monkey Man. I guess it quickly bears repeating, the way Carl Hiaasen writes over and over about Clinton Tyree.
1. Four years ago, my daughter The Heir was walking home from school when a man passed her on a bicycle. He was wearing a jester hat, clown pants, and carrying a stuffed toy monkey. In monkey voice, he said, "Hello, girls ... ooo ooo ooo AH AH AH!"
2. For a short time I wondered if there was a Mark Foley in our midst. But The Heir, loving all forms of weirdness, made it her personal goal to find out as much as she could about the Monkey Man.
3. Literally for two and a half years after that, a Monkey Man sighting, or any information on said individual, was coveted like the Holy Grail. It seemed everyone had an opinion on the guy -- everything from the assertion that he lived under the railroad tracks to the assertion that he had grown up in this town and was known and loved by many.
4. Turns out the latter is true. The former is not. He has a house. He used to own the house behind mine. The one that now contains two beastly yappy dogs.
5. Once when the Monkey Man lost his monkey, he gave my daughter The Spare his email address. He also posed for a snapshot with The Spare. (That was proof enough for me that he had nothing to hide. When did you ever see a picture of Foley with his arm around a page?)
6. After an exchange of emails, it transpired that the Monkey Man did indeed know all the neighbors who used to inhabit this tightly-packed block. The neighbors unanimously spoke warmly of him.
7. Nevertheless, the guy is a distinct individual, which is a nice way of saying he wears a jester hat and rides around on a bike with a monkey puppet. He also writes poetry and recites Walt Whitman, who he resembles to a proper degree.
Now, here's the weird thing.
My mother-in-law was visiting for New Year's. That means I had to stage one lavish meal after another for two days. The most lavish of all, of course, was the New Year's feast. Trust me, it rivalled anything they've ever dished out in Whoville, either pre- or post-Grinch.
About an hour before the feast was set to be served, I walked out to my car to go get The Spare from a friend's house. As I looked in my rearview, I saw a bicyclist coming up the street. Then I saw the jester hat. Total, complete coincidence. If I had come out 5 minutes later, he'd have been gone. If he'd been 5 minutes sooner, he wouldn't have seen me.
No one in my family had laid eyes on the Monkey Man in 3 months. And there he was. He said he just happened to ride up my street instead of the one his old house was on.
I invited him to the feast. What the heck?
At this point I'll add that my spouse, Mr. Johnson, is pretty tolerant of my bouts of weirdness. Not many men would take it in stride when their wife got up at 5:30 a.m., drove 30 minutes to a neighboring town, and watched vultures for two hours. (I did that on Friday.)
So we set another place at the table for the Monkey Man -- daughters gawking, mother-in-law highly amused.
Guess what he had been doing in the old neighborhood? He'd taken a Polar Plunge into Dog Poop Pond! His hair was still wet. Even his monkey was a tad moist.
Last point of weirdness.
Mr. Johnson always likes to listen to music during dinner. He prefers Big Band. While we were eating the roast beast, a song came on. It's called "Mairzy Doats."
Simultaneously, I and the Monkey Man shouted: "Oh, my Dad/Mom loved that song!" (His mom, my dad.)
I've never heard "Mairzy Doats" on the Big Band channel before.
Occasionally, as befits an educated Druid, I am given to bouts of doubt on all things spiritual. So I wanted to record this navel gaze for those days when I see the world in that gray Orwellian light. There can be no other explanation for the weird entree of the Monkey Man into our New Year's dinner other than intervention by my dad/his mom, both, alas, gone to the Summerlands.
For those of you who haven't nodded off, here are the words to "Mairzy Doats":
And doezy doats
And little lambsie divey,
A kiddle ee divy too, wouldn't you?
Now if the words sound queer
And funny to your ear
A little bit jumbled and jivey,
Think "Mares eat oats,
"And does eat oats,
"And little lambs eat ivy..."
The world is weird. Who am I to buck it?
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS