Monday, February 16, 2009

Monkey Business

No, nobody's perfect. And yet, I feel very self-critical when it comes to what I consider my flaws. Take my lack of pity for people who do things that are just obviously stupid. Understand, I'm not talking about the honest mistakes that every human makes. Nor am I intolerant of people who err due to lack of knowledge. No, my full-bore scorn is reserved for people who should know better, but choose to ignore Reality looking in at them, and pretend the world is a different place than it really is.

Example One comes from the series of children's books [also a movie or two,
and now an educational series on public television] about the chimpanzee Curious George, and his guardian, the appropriately named Man In The Yellow Hat. Anyone who's read or watched more than a story or two in the series can predict what's going to happen in each episode; George gets separated from the Man, and has an adventure that usually ends with him trashing a store, house, cake, or party, just in time for the Man to come up from wherever he'd been and say something like, "Oh, Heavens, isn't George a curious little monkey?" I mean, come on! First of all, if this were Reality [with a capital R], the owner of whatever George had destroyed would be screaming [justly, I'd have to say] for compensation from the Yellow-Hatted Man. Then again, I could see Yellow [you don't mind if I shorten his name up a bit, do you?] saying, "Hey, he's a monkey! Why did you let him into your store? Waddya think he'd do, polish your counters? He's a fu__in' monkey!" (I'm trying to figure out which of the TV "judges" would get the arbitration case, and what would be the result. I think George and the Man win from most of them, by the bye)

Case two comes to us from Stamford, Connecticut, home of, among other things, World Wrestling Entertainment [and you can't imagine how desperately I wish I could bring them into this one]. It's also home to one Sandra Herold, who owned a 150-pound adult chimpanzee names Travis. Most animal experts would call that a disaster waiting to happen; it's estimated that a 150-pound chimp at full maturity is three to seven times stronger than a similarly-sized human. Unfortunately, the disaster came to pass today. Here's the story.

Now, I do feel sorry for Ms. Herold losing her pet, which was said to be like a child to her. But, to quote the Man With The Yellow Hat: "He's a monkey!" And, as the CNN account pointed out, Travis had gone, well, apeshit at least once before [the photo is from his 2003 escape and rampage through the streets of Stamford. Granted, he's no King Kong, but he probably did cause a good deal of damage and consternation. Why did the city allow Ms. Herold to have her chimp back after that display?]. Further, I feel badly for Charla Nash, scarred for life by Travis [what was she thinking, getting involved with this mess?]. I feel badly for the police who had to deal with Travis [No, I don't believe it's emotionally easy to put several slugs into a living creature, whether it's life or death or not]. I feel badly for Travis; if he'd been properly restrained, or, better yet, left alone in the jungle that gave him birth, he'd likely still be alive today [The story notes that Travis stole a key to escape his cage. Is this too clear a clue as to the brains of this outfit?].
(A sidebar to the men in the audience: were you as creeped out as I was about that 2005 case in California where the escaped chimp ate a man's nose and genitals? I can kind of picture the scenario and I wish I couldn't...)
Keeping a wild animal as a pet; obviously stupid. What was Sandra Herold thinking? What was Stamford, CT thinking of when they permitted it? Pardon me, I need to go away and calm down...
-Mike Riley