Navel Gazing under Friday Night Lights
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hope all is well with you.
The more footage and stories that come in about the hurricane, the worse I feel. It's horrible to see so much destruction. I hope that when rebuilding begins, people will think twice about construction right on the beach. But the ruination goes far beyond the barrier islands. We took it on the chin here on the East Coast of the USA. It was bound to happen. The atmosphere and the water and the cold fronts are going to bring stormzillas from time to time.
And then there's the day-to-day living that people do in the danger zone.
Some of you three readers might remember that my best friend in these parts is a street poet that I call The Monkey Man. I call him this because he rides around on a bike with a monkey puppet and is friendly to everyone, especially little kids.
The Monkey Man lives in downtown Camden, New Jersey. Most everyone there loves him dearly. But one evening, as he stood at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge admiring the sunset over Philadelphia across the river, someone (or more than one) attacked him from behind. He was severely beaten, and the assailants threw his monkey in the Delaware River. He was not robbed.
My friend required hospitalization. The story made the newspapers, and that is how I heard about it.
Well, that was a wake-up call for me. I've been so wound up in my own business for months that I have lost track of my local friends, principal among them the Monkey Man. So I invited him to dinner on a night when the Snobville Fighting Wombats had a football game. The Monkey Man graduated from Snobville High and retains a sporting interest in his hometown teams.
Last evening he arrived right on time, and I threw on a pretty good feed bag, chicken cordon bleu, topped off with a delicious red velvet cupcake. He was subdued during dinner. It's usually that way. When confined to a house he's mostly quiet.
Then we left for the game: Monkey Man, Heir, and me. And the puppets. Somehow the monkey had survived a dunking in the river and looked better than ever, like new, actually. The other puppet, Butchie the Wombat, is a fixture at football games.
Once out of the house, the Monkey Man got his game on. All of the curbs here in the neighborhood are piled with leaves. We have leaf collection here, and the sucker truck hasn't come yet. Monkey Man began by jumping in the leaf piles, then entertained the kids at the game better than the Wombats themselves. At one point, Butchie was being tossed so widely through the stands I was afraid he wouldn't make it back to the Monkey Man. But of course he did. The monkey chatted with everyone ... as always.
In Heir's era at Snobville High, most of the students were stand-offish towards the Monkey Man. But this new generation of youngsters are wonderful to him! They all seemed to know him, and one very nice student came up, shook his hand, and said, "Hope I'll see you in church soon." That kid's friends were all so kind and respectful. It was a lovely thing to see.
Of course Heir and I treated our Monkey Man like gold. We have known him more than ten years now. How time flies!
Snobville High basically got their hats handed to them by their opponents, the Blue Collarville Fighting Cacti. The Cacti are always a great team, hard to beat, and this game was no exception. Oh well, our cheerleaders were good.
We walked home to my house -- me, Monkey Man, and Heir. On the way we came to a gigantic leaf pile that we had missed on the way to the stadium. With a fine "whoop," Monkey Man fell over backwards into the leaf pile. I followed suit. It was a fabulous leaf pile! The leaves conformed to my back ... and we looked up at the stars. Heir just stood there staring at us. Finally we coaxed her to give it a try, but she was still hesitant. I guess leaf piles are like everything else -- you love them as a kid, you go through a stage where you lose touch with them, and then in late mid-life you re-discover your inner leaf-pile-jumper.
The only thing that coaxed us out of the leaf pile was the fact that the leaves underneath were damp. Finally we de-leafed, walked the rest of the way home, and bid farewell to the Monkey Man, who bundled his monkey and Butchie onto his bike and pedaled off toward Camden.
I'm so relieved that my friend hasn't lost his groove after being attacked. I hope it doesn't happen again. He lives in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Everyone knows him, but there are bound to be some haters ... some punks trying to get props ... some cowards acting on a dare. But so long as no one out-and-out kills him, his fine spirit will prevail. Camden needs him, and so do I.
Thus begins an intention to reconnect with the friends I have in this region. There's a pudgy cat at a local shop who hasn't gotten enough attention either. Time to venture out again with those I hold near and dear.
Labels: Monkey Man