Most Precious Monkey

“I call shotgun!”
“Aww, come on. I don’t want to sit in the middle again. I had to sit there on the way here. How come I always have to be in the middle?”
It was almost 4:00am and we were piling into Farnsworth’s van after a long evening of celebrating our friend Marcy’s 33rd birthday. Our night began with spicy soups and cheap wines, tasty bread and Cornish hens. Marcy is my friend Dee-Dee’s little sister, and she, Dee-Dee and Natasha lived together in college, which is when I met them all. As we dipped chicken empanadas in spicy tomatillo sauce, we recalled the first time I met Marcy.
It was Dee-Dee’s birthday – over a decade ago – and by the time I arrived at her apartment, the party was already in full swing. Dee and four of her friends were doing shots of Jägermeister, the kitchen floor was slick from beer, and Marcy was dancing around the apartment playing a tambourine with such passion that her hand had an enormous blister on it the next day.
“I can’t believe you let those guys con you into matching them shot for shot, Dee-Dee. No wonder you were sick. Then all your creepy stalkers seemed to crawl out of the woodwork. Funny how being nearly unconscious always made you seem so much more approachable.”
Dee shook her head and laughed, “Yeah, but didn’t you make out with your little hippie poet that night, too?”
“Oh, god – yeah. Yeah, I did. And mid-kiss, he stopped just in time to run and vomit off your third floor balcony. I shudder to think what might have happened if his timing had been off. So then I held his hair.”
“You held everyone’s hair that night. Jenny always holds people’s hair. That’s why you’re such a good friend.”
It’s true, I do. People can always count on me to hold their hair. Although as I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve found that a well placed scrunchy does the job quite well, with far less effort required on my end.
After dinner, we moved on to another bar where six of us crammed into a booth meant for two. We’ve long since traded in the Jägermeister for Pinot Noir, but Marcy still had it in her to drink a shot of tequila, no lime. I gave the DJ a $20 tip and asked him to play Chaka Khan, but we left the bar before it came on. It’s okay, though. It was Marcy’s birthday, I was feeling generous, and he had already played nearly every great dance song recorded from 1984 to the present.
We picked up a companion along the way – a friend of a friend. An energetic young twenty-something who matched Marcy drink for drink, and then passed her up a few times over. It was somewhere around the second lap that we realized he might be one of those drunks. The kind who starts out really funny and adorable, but who might end up crying and hunched over a dumpster in the alley behind a McDonald’s. Fortunately for me, he had very short hair, so I knew my services would not be required that evening.
At our final destination that night, we witnessed him reach the tipping point after a shot of Bushmill’s. Dee-Dee and I were talking to a man we had just met, who saved us from tripping over a broken glass on the floor. Our tipsy friend of a friend wandered over and squeezed in between the man and me, then poked at the man’s arm.
“You’re very… what? Rambunctious! You know… you-,” he swayed back on his heels a bit, and then continued, “You’re really tall. And hairy. What the fuck is your…”
When he said fuck, he accidentally spit all over the tall hairy man’s face. Dee-Dee and I looked at each other, ready to duck from the blows that were bound to follow. As we edged back a bit, I tried to apologize for this friend of a friend, “He’s had a few shots…”
Fortunately, the tall hairy man decided that punching someone on the verge of alcohol poisoning was not necessary, so he just wiped off his face, thanked us for the conversation, and went off to join his friends. This was our sign that it was time to make a getaway. Farnsworth was already outside warming up his van, so Dee and I grabbed the rest of our group and ran outside.
“I’m getting smushed in the middle,” I said, as I squirmed back and forth between Marcy and Natasha to make more room for myself.
Nat held her ground and said, “But you’re in the best spot. It’s the warmest place to be. You’re like the special monkey.”
“The special monkey. I saw this nature show once that said that when monkeys are in trees, they keep their most precious monkey in the middle. To keep her warm and safe and protected.”
“They do? And then does the precious monkey groom them?” I asked, picking an imaginary nit from Natasha’s hair.
“No! They groom her. Because she’s the most precious.”
“So you’re saying that I’m the most precious monkey? I’m the one you’re keeping safe and warm?”
“Yes, Jenny. You’re the most precious monkey of all.”
I smiled as I settled back into the tight embrace of winter jackets, listening to tales of astronauts and garden snakes. These random pieces that build stories that become memories – it was ages ago, it was just yesterday, she still looks 21, occasionally I feel it. These stories carried us through our 4:00am fatigue and ultimately led me to my front door, where I returned, contented in the realization that the basis of love, happiness, and friendship really just comes down to being someone’s most precious monkey, even if only for the van ride home.

21 Responses to “Most Precious Monkey”

  1. mainja Says:

    thanks for that. i like warm and fuzzy to start my day sometimes…
    you are a special monkey…

  2. Sarah Says:

    Oooooh…I love it love it love it.
    I want to move back to a good city and have friends again.

  3. sween Says:

    Uh… Jenny? You’re supposed to make me giggle like school-girl, NOT tear up like a school-girl.

  4. Roy Says:

    Huh. My memories are probably more like those of the guy who almost got beat up by the hairy man.

  5. jenny Says:

    mainja: aww, thanks! right back at ya! :)
    sarah: you should *totally* move back to chicago! but your new daughter might cramp your tequila shot-drinking style… :)
    sween: i’m just picturing you in a school girl uniform right now, and it’s oddly sexy. if you need to cheer up, go to cute overload and look at the cat that adopted the baby skunk – it’s just too much!
    roy: oh no! were you the kind of guy hunched over a dumpster behind a mcdonald’s? say it ain’t so!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    A special monkey you are–to be sure. But though you deserve it, I am not going to try to brush your hair.

  7. sandra Says:

    I don’t know if I’m the monkey…more like the spitter. ;-)

  8. shari Says:

    Mmmmmmmm…. Bushmills.
    What was that? You’re adopting a special skunk or monkey or something for the kitties?? That’s so nice.

  9. dee-dee Says:

    you are the special monkey that always holds my hair and stalkers at bay…it really was a lovely night w/good friends and friends-of-friends.

  10. Dave2 Says:

    Well, you are certainly MY favorite monkey!
    Hmmm… I don’t think that comes across the way it was sounding in my head…

  11. Fiorello La Guardia Says:

    “Precious Monkey”… I love it. Nat was serious, right? She really did see this on TV?
    This is yet another one of your blogs that I feel compelled to copy and save for the ages. Thanks for the day-brightener!

  12. Cee Says:

    Awwww. Warm fuzzies. I wanna be a special monkey :-)

  13. jenny Says:

    vivian: believe me – others have tried and failed!
    sandra: i don’t recall you being a belligerent drunk – mostly just a supermodel.
    shari: i don’t think my landlord would approve either a skunk or a monkey… but a girl can dream!
    dee: well, fortunately i haven’t had to do either for you in years. :)
    dave2: aw, thanks! and i’d pick nits out of your hair anyday… wait. maybe that didn’t come out quite right, either. just don’t let bad monkey hear you say that!
    fiorello: oh, Nat was totally serious. if there’s one thing she doesn’t kid about, it’s nature shows.
    cee: that’s just it – we’re all someone’s most precious monkey at some point. :)

  14. Secret Valentime Admirer Says:

    Will you be my Valentime?

  15. jenny Says:

    I have a secret admirer?! That’s so awesome! And of course I’ll be your valentime, mostly because it totally cracks me up to say valentime. Thanks! :)

  16. sizzle Says:

    aww precious monkey… :)
    i love how you tell a story jenny.

  17. Don Says:

    I enjoy holding the hair of others. I like being the precious monkey, but I like letting others be the precious monkey better. Hm. I think I have chocolate poisoning.

  18. Churlita Says:

    What a great post. It does seem like you need a few more friends with shorter hair, though.

  19. Big Sister Says:

    I wish I could have been there to help celebrate Marcy’s b-day!!! I love that I can check out what kind of mischief DeeDee and Marcy get into when they come to you for a visit. Thanks for the update. I love the “American Girls” story!!!

  20. jenny Says:

    sizzle: aww, thanks, sizz! you’re totally a precious monkey, too!
    don: i think you may have reached precious monkey self actualization. but easy on the chocolate!
    churlita: good point! or maybe they should start wearing hats.
    cheri: omg – if you had joined us, there would’ve been even more mischief! bring money for bail! :)

  21. chantel Says:

    Jen, I just heard about your Tequilathon in PDX next month from Neil’s site. I live in Portland and would love to be included on the list if you have room.