Day 23, November daily post challenge:
I like monkeys and monkey stories, don’t you? Gary of Gary’s Holler Notes wrote a story last week about one that bring these thoughts to mind. It’s about Abner, a monkey who is either a legend or a myth of the western North Carolina Smoky Mountains, depending on which storyteller you hear the story from.
In 1980, during my first trip to India, when I was admiring all the cute little monkeys and monkey families that were just everywhere, a nephew then living in Manipal gave me an altogether different view of monkey cuteness. It seems that a particularly ornery monkey in his village used to steal freshly washed clothing the women spread along the fence and on the shrubs to dry. They would put their heads through the sleeve of a blouse and swing away through the trees when the owner sought to take it back.
Yes, of course it made a wonderful mental picture, but I doubt the woman who had to replace a blouse that went with a special sari was amused at all. Not to mention that a cornered monkey can become quite vicious when he’s pinned down or challenged. So there are lots of problems when people try to make a pet of a monkey just to satisfy some fanciful whim.
I don’t believe in keeping exotic pets in unnatural environments, even though I do understand their allure. There’s something so appealing about baby monkeys especially. They’re intelligent and sweet looking; they remind me of human babies who will never grow up to be a human teenager. They do, however, grow up, and that’s when they either escape or are frequently abandoned.
A quick google research into the number of simians living in captivity in private homes in this country came to 15,000–even though in 1975 it became illegal to import monkeys to be kept as pets into the United States. Humans will always find a way around whatever laws may keep them from having anything they want. To wit, that 1975 law led to a thriving pet trade involving breeding and selling primates in this country from stock that descended from animals brought in before 1975.
It’s easy to understand then, why and how monkeys come to be living–loose and with their lives in peril–just about anywhere humans are gathered and live. It’s how little mischievous monkey stories come to be. And forgive me, I still like them, especially this one about Abner. He seems to have had a reasonably satisfying existence through the human that rescued him. No doubt the two gave each other a degree of what humans often aren’t very good at–companionship.
I love the description of Abner harassing the local hunters’ dogs, how he’d swing Tarzan style through the trees and plop down on the dogs’ backs and ride-em-cowboy until the dog would collapse of fatigue. Then he’d choose another dog and do the same thing all over again. In a way, it seems to me that in that way he was able to extract some revenge of a sort on the hunters who probably hunted him down and sold him into captivity to be mistreated.
Guess we’ll never know for sure if he met his demise at the hands of the hunters who were understandably piqued at the disruption of the hunt–thereby becoming a legend–or if he was only a myth in the first place. Being from the storytelling culture of the South myself, I know the propensity for a good storyteller to get carried away and not being bound by the truth if a lie makes a better story. If you’d like to read Abner’s story and decide for yourself if he’s a legend or myth, click here and read the whole story as Gary wrote it. (If you do, be sure to take a couple of extra minutes and read all the comments too. More good stories are buried in there.)
A friend of mine had a pet monkey and he was cute but mean as a snake. He wasn’t around too long.
That’s the problem. They’re cute ’til they bite. A friend of mine had one too, a tiny little Capuchin, when she was about 14. He got sick and died. That’s the other trouble. They cost a lot of money to feed and they get sick and die anyway. The future is usually not very rosy for them however you look at it.
I also enjoy reading Pureland.com as he wages war against the troop of monkeys that steal his gardening efforts.
Have a great Thanksgiving. What kind of meal do you two share with your family this holiday. Do you mix cultures?
I’ve read a lot of his monkey stories too, Mage. In fact I’ve chided him once in a while about his trying to outdo the cute little critters. I don’t think he listens.
Sometimes it’s quite traditional. Since daughter #1 has taken over the major cooking for holidays (she likes to, I don’t) I let her arrange the menu and contribute whatever she asks me to. One year we had smoked salmon (from the smoker cooker on the deck), but we always have something non-meat as SIL eats mostly meatless too, out of conscience. A beautifully prepared pork loin can still entice him most of the time, however. Our Thanksgiving are generally quiet and mellow though, maybe a nap sometime, and of course football on TV for Hubby Happy holiday to you and G, whatever you do.
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Well, Abner, the monkey in my story is a combination of fact and fiction. Carl Lambert did buy a monkey at the Cherokee Fair and he did vanish into the wilds of the Smokies. The rest of it is pure fiction.
P.S. For what it is worth, there is a heartbreaking article in the latest issue of the Smithsonian about the traffic in wild animals.
I’ll look for it, Gary. Although I can barely make myself read about the mistreatment of animals. If anything makes me depressed, it’s that!!!!