Our Monkey Man
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we never ask you to abandon all hope when you enter. We leave that to the great poet Dante at the gates of hell.
Hope springs eternal, doesn't it? I hope so. Tee hee.
This evening, just at dusk, my daughter The Heir and I had a Monkey Man sighting. He was on his bike, crossing our street, just as we were headed to the El.
At one time, a Monkey Man sighting used to put us in a state of awe and wonder from which we would only slowly recover. Who was this odd guy who rode around on his bike with monkey puppets, shaking them at kids and making friendly monkey noises? Where did he live? Was he homeless, dangerous, a lunatic, a pedophile? Or just weird?
One night I stalked him in the grocery store. He had put his puppets in the child seat of the cart.
Today he stopped by our car. I rolled down the window. We greeted him enthusiastically. He had a gorilla puppet with him. He said he was glad to see The Heir feeling better. (We had an Heir Scare about two weeks ago, a real one.) We told him we wouldn't miss the next Pizza and Poetry in Camden, which he runs and leads. We missed the last one because The Heir was sick. (I had to email him that we couldn't make it.)
He was headed about a block up the street to see a drop-dead gorgeous multi-hued maple in all its fall glory.
The Monkey Man doesn't know that there's a Facebook chat group about him, that he's the subject of blog entries and photo essays. He does know that my inner city students recognize him because he lives among them and has taught some of them at the Friends School in Camden. He is less of a mystery to them than he is to the kids here in Snobville.
To us he is no longer a mystery.
Emmm. Well, not exactly. The Monkey Man doesn't give much back story on his long life, except for snippets in his poetry and essays. He grew up in the house behind ours and graduated from the school that The Heir attends. He went to college, worked for awhile as a journalist, and then headed to San Fran at the height of the hippie awakening.
That's all we know. So this is delicious. He's a good friend now, but he remains a mystery. As The Heir noted tonight, there are a lot of years unaccounted for in his past. Not knowing is a form of faith. We love him.
FROM ANNE THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS